A few days after completing my end-of-year exams in medical school I flew over to the U.K., and was warmly welcomed into one of the sangha (Sanskrit for community) houses of Andrew’s students in Totnes, a town in England’s picturesque South Devon region, where Andrew was staying.
A few weeks after arriving in Totnes, I spent one evening after satsang (Sanskrit for being in the company of a guru) with Andrew and the people who were living with him. The next day I received a message from him that he wanted to talk with me, so I went over to his house. As we sat together in the living room, Andrew laid out for me the full picture of my psycho-spiritual makeup. He said that on the one hand, he found me an exceptionally warm, trusting, serious and committed man, and felt a deep connection with me; but on the other hand, he felt a heavy presence of ego in me, and he and the other people with him had been very aware of it during our meeting the night before. He said it was rare to have these two extremes co-existing in the same person. Then he said: “You want to become as light as a feather, and this may take a few years. I suggest that you forget any plans you may have other than being with me. Think of yourself as a wandering monk. This means you should completely forget about your medical career.”
That was a lot to let in, and Andrew saw that and got up to make coffee for both of us. During the few minutes that he was in the kitchen, I decided I was going to follow his advice. Instantly, I experienced a change in my attitude. When he came back, holding two cups of cappuccino, I told him: “Andrew, something completely unexpected has just happened to me. Only a few minutes ago I was dreading the possibility that you would suggest that I completely discard my medical career, and now I feel like I’ve just dropped a few sandbags, to help my takeoff.”
And so it happened that I ultimately and irrevocably discarded my plans to become a medical doctor, and never looked back.
But my meeting with Andrew that day also marked another significant turning point in my life. Until that day I had never liked coffee, and under any other circumstances I would have refused it, but when your guru makes you a cup of cappuccino, you drink it. I drank it—and to my utter surprise, I loved it. That day I became a coffee lover.