In May 1998, I had been a disciple for four years. The restaurant was doing ok, but I was very tired physically and emotionally. The restaurant was draining my energy. I was stressed. I would send this stress to my workers, and of course get it back. I was in a kind of vicious circle and I could not find my way out. I was not at all in a good shape to live the events that followed.
H. was the Paris Centre leader. He was a close friend. An older brother. A bit of a spiritual guide too.
In May 1998, H. had not been to a centre meeting in three weeks for professional reasons. I was a bit judgemental about it. But mostly, I was missing him. Centre meetings were way less fun when he was not there.
Chinmoy was traveling to Rome. Someone was trying to arrange a meeting with the pope for him. In his striving for name and fame, Chinmoy was using a team of chosen disciples to arrange meetings with world celebrities and leaders. He would then use photos of the meeting and quote what the celebrities said about him for his own promotion. In many cases, the disciples were allowed to come to see Chinmoy on those trips. We would have evening functions with him and sometimes events or functions during the day too.
I went to Rome. On the morning of the second day I was there, I got a phone call from the centre leader of another French centre, saying that Chinmoy wanted to see all the Paris disciples who were in Rome. It was sixteen years ago and I cannot recollect all the details. I went to Chinmoy's hotel. I think it was sometime in the morning. We were ten to fifteen disciples from Paris who had come to see him in London. We sat around him in a hall of the hotel. The situation was very special. This kind of collective interview with him was quite rare. It could happen sometimes in New York during the celebration, but on a trip like this it was very unusual. Chinmoy used his charm and the love we had for him to give us a very strong message. It was a scolding. Chinmoy said that everyone in Paris had lost their aspiration. According to him all of us had descend spiritually. We had to change the situation ad go back to our height or he would disband the centre. Then he told us we could ask all the questions we wanted to. It was a quite rare opportunity to ask him questions directly. For many among us, it was the first time. Even though the scolding was very hard to take, we were feeling very blessed. The first questions were asking for spiritual advice about how to regain our spiritual height. Then a disciple who was working in my restaurant, S. asked about our centre leader H. There were a few questions and complaints about H. Chinmoy said that if we have some criticisms about H. we should have told him. Not having done it was according to him a spiritual mistake. Chinmoy said that he was not happy with H., that he had lost his aspiration. It was quite an unusual thing for Chinmoy to criticize openly a centre leader. He asked Patsy to write a report about the interview and to read it at the next centre meeting.
We all went back to Paris. Told the disciples we saw or had on the phone who were not in Rome what happened there. At the next centre meeting, either at the end of the meditation or before, I don't remember, Patsy read her report about the Rome interview. She did not mention what Chinmoy said about H. It seems to me today very understandable that H. and Patsy decided not to include the nasty comments about H. At the same time, it was a mistake, because this is exactly the reason Chinmoy used to disband the centre. Chinmoy could easily guess they would not do it. The game was done.
The next day, I was not feeling comfortable about the report, feeling that something was wrong with the fact that the report did not mention Chinmoy's critics towards H. Got a few disciples on the phone who were not feeling well about that too. Later that day I was meditating on Chinmoy's transcendental photo, the one we were supposed to focus on in our meditation. And I switched. I decided that H. was betraying us. I called Chinmoy's main secretary in New York. Chinmoy already knew about the missing part in the report. Some other disciples already had reported this. Chinmoy's main secretary told me that he will mention my phone call.
Later in the evening, the main secretary called me and told me that he mentioned my call but that it was too late. He then told me: "The Paris centre is dismissed. Everyone is out. A few people may be taken back, but later.
Chinmoy had five other people called that evening, but not the now ex centre leader H. Some time later, He said he would never take back H. and Patsy.
Then started a very dry period of two months, were we had no centre meetings and no contact with any disciples who were inside. We only had a phone call once a week from the Montpellier centre leader who was kind of in charge of us. Things evolved slowly. Some of us were just waiting to be taken back. I was in this category. Some others did not know. And as time was passing, more and more gave up the idea of coming back. It was quite strange at the restaurant. For our customers, we were still a Sri Chinmoy restaurant. We could not tell the real story. Telling it would somehow mean we would give up the idea of coming back and protecting the image of our guru, who, I had no doubt at this time, knew exactly was he was doing. Well now I still think he knew exactly what he was doing. But I can see how much it was one of his nasty manipulative tricks. He just wanted to get rid of a still quite independent centre leader who still had some common sense, and at the same time ultimately keep as much as possible of the Paris centre and its restaurant.
The next two months were very difficult. Towards the end of this period, we started getting some signs from Chinmoy that he was considering taking some of us back. I was myself quite sure I would be taken back and I did not examine any other option at all. But some members of my team had decided not to come back, and it was getting obvious that soon we will have to do without them.
After two months, around July 22nd, Chinmoy took back about half of the people, but not me. I was again in such a shock. I was so sure I would be taken back. Just imagine the situation, I was owning and running a Sri Chinmoy restaurant and I was out of his path. Plus, many of my workers were back and those who were not were on their way out or already gone. I think Chinmoy said something like me and other disciples were not ready, making it quite clear that taking us back was still in his mind, but not giving any indication about when.
The situation had just got worse for me. It was one of the worse times of my life. I was in agony. I was examining a few other options like selling the restaurant. There was no way I could see myself keeping running it in such an emotional state without my team. I would have had to change all my team and starting from zero again. I was trapped.
It is only a few days now that we started putting together our memories bout this episode with some other exs. But it is already clear to me how much I was in a situation were I was getting abused and still running after my abuser. A very similar situation to what an abused woman is going through. I was finally taken back a month later, during the August celebrations. I took the first flight to New York, in a desperate need to run again in the arms of my abuser.
He had totally broken my free will. The memory of the pain would remain for many years and I knew that if I would do anything serious that would not please him I would end up with the same pain. It took me almost another eleven years and him dying to regain my freedom.