BOOK REVIEW

Rainbow On My Heart - a Memoir of the Early Years of the Mission of Sant Ajaib Singh Ji by Kent Bicknell, 328 pages, 13 color photos




Pathi Ji, Chris Bicknell, Pappu and Sant Ji
From left : Pathi Ji, the author's son, nine-year old Chris Bicknell, Pappu and Sant Ajaib Singh Ji, just outside the simple meditation hut used by Sant Ji in 77RB.

Dear Friends, I have just had the opportunity of reading Kent Bicknell's book, Rainbow On My Heart. It is, in short, a very special gift; one that I believe is intended for us to receive at this particular time. Whether you are a long time initiate or a disciple that came to the path later in Sant Ji's mission, this very readable, very inspiring story will reawaken many sweet memories of being with the Master physically and will surely ignite new sparks of enthusiasm and motivation.

The book begins by taking us back to the painful time of transition, when Master Kirpal had left His physical body, and many of us were filled with the hope of a true Successor, yet not knowing exactly who that was to be. Through Kent's narrative we receive news of a Gurumukh disciple in the deserts of Rajasthan and we experience what it was like to be among the first visitors to His small ashram.

As it says in the introduction, "Suddenly we were flying: priorities righted, destination reaffirmed, the overwhelming reality and joy of darshan experienced once again. " The beautiful cover photo that Kent took during an early trip shows Sant Ji standing in a doorway, illuminated by a simple kerosene lantern, giving darshan to yearning souls. That was a special time and it has been wonderful to relive those days through Kent's words.

Portions of Kent's tale capture the flavor of an initiate just back from India, reading from journal entries. While progressing through the book I found myself reminiscing/remembering glowing faces trying to communicate experiences too big, too profound to fit into words and syllables. Whether told in private or in Satsang, such accounts would most commonly be accompanied by an aura of sweetness and love so present and so real it was as if the Master Himself was physically in the room. It is my experience that it doesn't take many pages of reading Rainbow On My Heart to once again be surrounded by all these memories and to be immersed in that exact same aura of sweetness and love. Clearly, the tapestry of Kent's experiences is much more than the sum of the individual parts.

However, this is not simply a collection of inspiring anecdotes, and it would be wrong to think of this work in that way. First, and foremost, it is a complete story of one disciple's personal transformation. As we read Kent's story, we move through a remarkable tale of personal growth. The story takes shape and unfolds through an orchestrated progression of much needed lessons. At one point the author wonders, "How many times will Sant Ji have to send me yet another lesson of exactly what I need ?" At another place, "I realized that it was wrong to assume anything... that I really did not know much of anything, and that, as Baba Sawan Singh had said, the Guru can get work out of anyone even from the stones. I brought nothing special to the task. "

As we move from year to year we see moments of levity often followed by difficult and sobering discussions, which in turn give way to love filled interviews. Thanks to Kent's willingness to share all of the experiences - not just the blissful but also the difficult - we are able to witness the Master at work, molding and shaping the disciple each step of the way. As his relationship with Master evolves, the reader is afforded insights into the various ways Sant Ji encouraged, admonished, rebuked, forgave, and, ultimately and completely embraced Kent.

The story concludes with Kent having to face a huge personal obstacle. Despite his best efforts to be spiritually disciplined, a complication had set in that threatened to totally block his further progress. In the chapter "Spiritual Surgery" we see the Master at work over a period of days lovingly, yet firmly, correcting the situation, at the conclusion of which Kent relates:

"Words fled me. I was stunned and shaken. The arrogance and pride ... crushed under the weight of my humiliation... Sant Ji repeated that it was far better to be rebuked by the Master than to be praised in public... A glimmer of hope came over me. No one could deny He had just rebuked me - so perhaps there was a bottom to all of this. He continued to gaze at me, with great love and compassion flowing from His physical frame. No words were spoken for a short time. Then a new feeling entered the room. It felt as if a skilled surgeon had just completed a particularly difficult aspect of a delicate operation - and time was needed to see if the patient would accept or reject the results. "

In the last chapter we experience the fulfillment of the healing process as Kent and Pappu are immersed into the daunting collaborative task of translating Kabir's epic poem, the Anurag Sagar. It is both an interesting and moving account.

These few paragraphs do not do the book justice for there is much that I have not been able to convey. Let me conclude by suggesting you give yourself plenty of time to read about this particular rainbow. For it is one that is full of many little treasures that are best absorbed at a relaxed pace. Take your time, step through the window and relive that happy period, full of promise, when little bowls were being turned upright and then filled to the brim. As Kent says, after one particular session with the Master, "As much as I could comprehend had been given to me. " It seems that what is given through Rainbow On My Heart is very much along those same lines.

- DON MACKEN