Since meeting Gurudev, the last 40 years have been the best years of my life.
I’ve learned so much from Gurudev; even the way I met him was miraculous. It was 1966 -- a time
of psychedelic experimentation among the youth and Yoga was virtually unknown in America. As an artist,
I was on a creative retreat, experimenting with new modes of expression through the medium of collage.
Before I became an artist, I had almost chosen a career as an astronomer, having had a strong fascination
about the universe -- planets, stars, galaxies, novas, nebulas, and the vast distances in space. One day I
decided I was going to try and find out what the universe and life was all about through my art and decided
to create a large collage of the universe in my studio in New York’s Upper West Side. I worked on a
large table that was about five feet square and began assembling photographs. I worked on the collage for
almost 16 hours a day for three days.
When it was complete, I wanted to be able to see the whole image, hoping it would give me a perspective on
the universe and what life was all about. But it was so big that in order to see it, I had to climb up a
ten-foot ladder and look down at it. There I was, at two a.m. in the morning, climbing a ladder up to the
ceiling. When I looked down at my collage creation, however, I didn’t really see anything that was a
cosmic revelation; I was hoping to see something that was beyond belief. I was very frustrated and
disappointed, especially since I had worked very hard on it.
I reached my arms up to God and wanted to scream, but suddenly realized that my wife Liz and our baby son,
Adam, were asleep in the next room. So, instead, I did a kind of dry, silent scream while I closed my eyes
and wished for an answer to my quest. Suddenly, with my eyes closed, I envisioned a cloud that opened up
and a man with a white beard appeared through it and said, “Relax, everything is okay.”
I felt a new sense of peace and began to relax as I descended the ladder. It was now three a.m. and as I
was about to go to bed when my phone rang. Who could be calling me at that hour? I picked up the phone and
a man said, “I’m so sorry. I’m calling from Paris and forgot the time difference. My name
is Conrad Rooks.” He told me that he was making a film in Paris and somebody had shown him a brochure
of my collages. He loved them and asked if I could come to Paris and give him some ideas for visuals and
color treatments for his film.
“When do you need me there?” I asked. He said, “I’d like you to come
tomorrow.” I said, “I’m sorry, I really can’t. My wife just had a baby.”
So I said goodnight and went to bed. As I drifted off to sleep, all I could think about was the vision I
had on the ladder of the man in the white beard. The next afternoon, someone knocked on my door. I opened
it and a man who was wearing a Zorro hat and a black coat that hung down to his ankles was standing there.
“Hello, I’m Conrad Rooks, the man who called you last night,” he said. “What are
you doing here?” I exclaimed. “I thought you said you were in Paris!” “When you
said you wouldn’t come, I decided to get on the next plane and here I am,” he declared. I
invited him into the studio and when he saw my collages on the wall, he let out a loud “YAHOO,”
throwing his hat up to the ceiling and letting it fall to the floor...