Shri Mataji held up the index finger of her right hand and twirled it and I swear I could see a bright glittering disc whirling round.

"As long as that discus is there," she said, "America can never be invaded."

"Could that protection ever be withdrawn?" I asked.

Shri Mataji shrugged expressively, and raised her eyebrows high. "Perhaps," she said. "If the land of diplomacy stopped being diplomatic, the land of communications communicated bad things, the land of sweetness turned bitter, then yes. Perhaps Lord Krishna might withdraw the protection."

Suddenly she laughed. "On my tour I shall tell everybody how to stop that from happening." I asked Shri Mataji if she was visiting North America just to sound such a warning.

"There are seekers of money, seekers after power, seekers of physical gratification," she replied, "and then there are people who have done all those things and are now seeking the truth, seeking their spirit, seeking God. There are many, many seekers of truth in America. Great, great seekers. Oh so great. I want to meet them. Show them how they can get what they have been looking for, probably since ages, lifetimes even, their self-realization."

"What is that exactly?" I hadn't yet asked one question from my carefully prepared list.

Tea arrived. Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, the spellbinding visionary, turned into Mrs. C.P. Srivastava, the attentive hostess. Did I have the right amount of sugar and milk? Would I have a biscuit? (Which turned out to be a cookie.)

"Self-realization," said Shri Mataji, "is the yoga, the union. The joining of the microcosm to the macrocosm, you could say. The raising of the energy in each of us called Kundalini. There is no English word for it. You should invent one. There is a good job for you. Invent a good English word for Kundalini. The linking of that energy with the all-pervading energy of God, that is what self-realization is."

"What exactly does it do?" I felt a fool at the naivety of the question.

"It brings about a change in awareness. You feel it as a cool breeze, cool vibrations, you could say, on the top of the head and on the hands. It is an actual happening! Not self-certification. Not saying 'I am born again!' or 'I am this or that!' You actually become! If you desire self-realization and you get it, then you become collectively conscious, truly sweet and truly diplomatic. A true blue American, you could say." And the joyous laughter flowed into every corner of the room.

I asked Shri Mataji if she was the only one who could grant this self-realization. "Oh no," came the reply, "once you have it you can pass it on to others."

"But it all seems to start from you," I said. "Why you?"

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