On the April 26, 1992 Satsang, Robert started off stating "Chanters you are not."
He and I loved Satsang, but it was difficult to get our group to chant. Part of it was we had no musicians playing instruments, but had only tapes from various sources such as Self-Realization Fellowship or old Muktananda tapes. Robert especially loved Yogananda’s "Oh God Beautiful," which strangely enough, was the first chant I ever learned. Both he and I started off our official spiritual careers through SRF.
Robert then goes on to explain why we should chant. He says Jnana—knowledge—without Bhakta, is dry knowledge. He says there are many Jnanis who he called "Cold Fish" at times as they had no Bhakta. He said you had to have love or your wisdom is dry and you are dry. He says if you practice chanting you will notice a dramatic change.
He even tells the story of one chap who would only observe Satsang, and who felt chanting was ridiculous. I don’t remember whether this was at Ramana Ashram or elsewhere. He did this abstract observing week after week and felt superior to the chanters, but also he was not attaining freedom.
Robert repeatedly suggested that the guy do chant, and he did one day. According to Robert, he soon attained freedom.
You will see the difference for yourself even if you just chant along with a tape, or even more dramatically, if you chant at Satsang. Chanting soothes the mind and you automatically go within.
Robert also talks about taking a walk every morning. His walks always led to a small park a few blocks away. He always took his dog, Dimitri. As he said, and as I saw him do, Dimitri walked him not the other way around. Indeed, that is what it looked like; he trailed behind Dimitri with a very slack collar. This is how he was with some of his students too. They would take him by the hand to show him something, and he was like a two-year old following his mother or father.
It was in this park that he met his first students in the late 1980s, and where I now take people who want to know of his being and teachings.
This Satsang had the format of so many others: chanting, his talk, a reading from the Ashtavakra Gita by me, more chanting, Darshan and then food. He used to joke that no one would come without the cookies.
On Sundays, the food layout could be quite elaborate, with hot dishes and various juices. The Pershad family would bring various Indian foods and sweets. I would bring my own favorite, chocolate chip cookies.
Robert would not eat anything unless everyone else was served first. Usually Mary, Kerima or I would prepare his plate, but he would not eat until everyone else ate.
While people were loading up their plates (or cookies on a slow Thursday night), we would have Darshan, consisting of going up to the guru, prostrating in Indian style, then talking to him about whatever. Often people would bring him gifts, such as food, some potion meant to treat his Parkinson’s Disease, or a medicinal magnet or some such to hang around his neck, wrist, knee, etc. Robert indulged everyone.
One time, as was his way, he did the entire Satsang with a powerful medicinal magnet under his shirt. When someone brought him his plate of food during Darshan, as usual, he put the plate aside. However, this time he took a fork and stuck it to his chest, and all during the rest of Satsang, he had the fork glued to his chest to the great delight and laughter of the group.
Unfortunately, most of the tapes available on the Internet (now mp3's) were recorded by me. When anything happened except Robert talking, I turned the tape recorder off so that I was sure there was enough tape to catch all of his words. Therefore, most of the chanting parts of Satsang are missing as are Mary or my own recitations of the Ashtavakra Gita or Robert’s own The Jnani (also called The Jnani Oath or Confessions of the Jnani).
Sometimes during this digital mastering, I included some of the chanting, or my recitation. I stated before, that Robert’s Satsangs were an entirety and that hearing his talks alone was maybe 50% of the overall impact of Satsang. This is far different from Balsekar for example, where the tapes are sometimes better than the Satsang itself.
As you can hear on many of the tapes, on Sundays the birds were always talking to us. It was a very sweet and wonderful experience which I dearly miss. I was so fortunate to be with Robert and I am afraid my spiritual thickness at the time prevented me form truly appreciating how extraordinary Robert and his Satsang was.