The other notable thing that was happening during that time was the newfound adventure of spiritual discipline. Aided and abetted, of course, by the introduction into my life of an actual living Indian Guru--for whom I will always have David to thank. I'd been introduced to my Guru the first night I ever went to David's apartment. I kind of fell in love with them both at the same time. I walked into David's apartment and saw this picture on his dresser of a radiantly beautiful Indian woman and I asked, "Who's that?"
He said, "That is my spiritual teacher."
My heart skipped a beat and then flat-out tripped over itself and fell on its face. Then my heart stood up, brushed itself off, took a deep breath and announced: "I want a spiritual teacher." I literally mean that it was my heart who said this, speaking through my mouth. I felt this weird division in myself, and my mind stepped out of my body for a moment, spun around to face my heart in astonishment and silently asked, "You DO?"
"Yes," replied my heart. "I do."
Then my mind asked my heart, a tad sarcastically: "Since WHEN?"
But I already knew the answer: Since that night on the bathroom floor.
My God, but I wanted a spiritual teacher. I immediately began constructing a fantasy of what it would be like to have one. I imagined that this radiantly beautiful Indian woman would come to my apartment a few evenings a week and we would sit and drink tea and talk about divinity, and she would give me reading assignments and explain the significance of the strange sensations I was feeling during meditation . . .
All this fantasy was quickly swept away when David told me about the international status of this woman, about her tens of thousands of students--many of whom have never met her face-to-face. Still, he said, there was a gathering here in New York City every Tuesday night of the Guru's devotees who came together as a group to meditate and chant. David said, "If you're not too freaked out by the idea of being in a room with several hundred people chanting God's name in Sanskrit, you can come sometime."
I joined him the following Tuesday night. Far from being freaked out by these regular- looking people singing to God, I instead felt my soul rise diaphanous in the wake of that chanting. I walked home that night feeling like the air could move through me, like I was clean linen fluttering on a clothes-line, like New York itself had become a city made of rice paper--and I was light enough to run across every rooftop. I started going to the chants every Tuesday. Then I started meditating every morning on the ancient Sanskrit mantra the Guru gives to all her students (the regal Om Namah Shivaya, meaning, "I honor the divinity that resides within me"). Then I listened to the Guru speak in person for the first time, and her words gave me chill bumps over my whole body, even across the skin of my face. And when I heard she had an Ashram in India, I knew I must take myself there as quickly as possible.