I spent some weeks in Australia in 2005 but also took another trip to Europe towards the end of the year. I visited the places that I had been to in summer and this time my brother Yashendu and one flute player were with me the whole time. I had until then entirely left any remainders of my previous guru life but of course, people whom I met the first time didn’t always know this. I had several experiences that later on made a friend of mine joke that he should publish a manual or ‘User Guide for Swami Balendu’.
I admit it might have been and may still be a bit confusing for some people, especially for those who have been in the spiritual scene for some time and know many gurus, to meet a person who likes his wide, unsewn and traditional clothes – but is not a guru, even if he had previously been exactly that. So one of the first points in this manual could have been:
– Don’t judge a book by its cover. He is not a guru – so don’t treat him like one.
Do not: worship him, bow in front of him, wash his feet or expect him to initiate you
Do: hug him, treat him like a friend and talk normally with him as you would with every other person
It really happened that I reached the home of organizers and they had consulted an Indian priest on how to welcome a guru. The result was that they put flower petals in front of my feet, sprinkled water on them and had prepared a small altar in their living room with my picture on it. Such a strange feeling, especially when it was western people whose culture and natural behavior was so very different! Once I had cleared such doubts however, they were very relieved and we could have a normal conversation and relation to each other.
There were however some more things that I did differently from the lifestyle that people imagined I had and when we were laughing already, my friend said I needed to add them in the field guide as well:
– He doesn’t like incense sticks. So don’t try to ‘purify’ your whole house and especially his bedroom in this way before he comes – it could cause a sudden need for ventilation, even in cold winter.
I never liked them. I believe I get breathing problems when their heavy smell is all over the room. Unfortunately in the scene I was working in it was all too common – I had to open a lot of windows in homes and yoga studios throughout the years.
– Give him a room with blinds on the windows – or he will take tape and black cartoon paper and decorate your windows.
Yes, Yashendu and I did that. Our friend was fine but the neighbours didn’t like it – they thought strange things are going on in that flat. 🙂
And last but not least:
– Try not to close your car door with his one-meter-dreadlocks partly outside, especially at bad weather. He might not notice during the ride but they get dirty and washing them takes lots of effort and time – and drying them takes even longer!