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For many years I wanted to buy a book for my mother — a book that would explain everything: what I hadn’t or couldn’t explain since I had been old enough to notice my mother wasn’t all that happy and, Lord knows, I wanted my mother to be happy and if not “happy” per se, then at least aware of what it was that made me, her son, happy — the “thing” that for so many years she thought was a phase I was going through and, even worse, some kind of heartless rejection of her and her way of life.

book of heartsYes, I wanted to buy my mother a book that would explain it all — the whole “New Age thing,” the whole “Guru thing,” the whole “it’s OK that I don’t eat your veal parmigiana any more because I’m a vegetarian thing.” Somebody must have written it. Somebody must have noticed the market niche of “mothers over 60 who worry why their high performing sons have gone “spiritual”.

And so, I went looking for this book. Like some people look for God. And though I never found it, I did find some reasonable facsimiles. Cleverly titled books displayed by the check out counter, conceived by marketing geniuses who somehow knew my need — the need a son has to make his mother smile and nod her head approvingly. The book that would keep my mother company during those long nights when her husband was working late and her children were asleep and there was nothing good on TV. The ultimate self-help book that would remove her worries, her doubts, and her exponentially growing fears of thinking her son had gone off the deep end for “receiving Knowledge” from that young boy from India.

I wanted my mother to know how beautiful life was and how simple it could be to experience that beauty. I wanted her to know there was something timeless within her, something beyond the stress of aging and the clipping of coupons. Maybe it was selfish of me, but I wanted to buy my mother a book that, like the tooth fairy, would deliver some proof that love was the name of the game, and that (bite your tongue and spit three times) the act of knowing inner peace  was as natural and healthy as chicken soup.

A year ago my mother died from a four-year bout with emphysema. During my six-day stay with my father after the funeral, I discovered the books I had given her all these past years. Most of them had never been opened. Like some strange mix of Stonehenge rubble, they lay in piles all around the house, on her night table, on her desk, stuffed behind cookbooks, in the garage. Some, when you opened them, still had that new book crackling sound. All of them had this fortune cookie like quality — like no matter what page you turned to, some kind of bite sized wisdom was waiting. I don’t think I was sad she didn’t read them. Just disappointed. Or maybe it was more like resignation — the kind teenagers feel when they realize their parents just don’t get it.

Looking back, I realize now that no book would have been sufficient to have given my mother — even if she lived long enough to read the book that I will eventually write. No. I wanted her to have the experience the books were describing, not the description of the experience. As it’s been said many times, if you are thirsty, you need water to drink, not the description of water.

Ultimately, that’s what Prem Rawat’s offer is all about: helping people find the water — the naturally occurring well of well-being inside us all. It’s something my dear, sweet, canasta playing, veal parmigiana making mother would have definitely appreciated.