I met U.G. in California in 1989. By happenstance, a book by U.G., or rather a book about him, Mind is a Myth, was in the window of a Carmel bookstore, Pilgrim's Way, the very day I went looking for a copy of The Mystique of Enlightenment, an earlier collection of U.G.’s conversations, a book I had come across and been astonished by a few months earlier.
I raced into the store, opened Mind is a Myth, and found a card tucked into it, as if a bookmark. It was a note by Dr. Narayana Moorty, a philosophy professor from Monterey Community College. He gave his telephone number in case the reader was interested in knowing more about U.G.
I called Dr. Moorty right away, and he invited me over to his house to talk and to borrow some audio tapes. U.G., he said, might appear in Seaside any day and he would let me know when he heard from him.
Sure enough, the next day the phone rang and Moorty told me U.G. had called from Mill Valley. He had just arrived in the Bay Area, and he would be in Seaside in ten days time for a flying visit.
Moorty asked me if I would like to meet U.G.; without hesitation, I said yes! And so it came to pass that on April 30, 1989 I went to lunch at Moorty's house in Seaside, California along with ten or fifteen others, and made the acquaintance of the man who was to play the most remarkable role in my life from that moment on.
My first impression of U.G. was of a small cat-like man with a disarming way about him, utterly lacking in pretension or guile. Yet an immense power emanated from him as he talked. I heard him as from a great distance, as though my brain had suddenly ceased to function. The only thing I remember thinking was that I want to spend more time with this man.
He told me, when I said I was from New York, that it was his favorite city, that he particularly liked the energy around Times Square. I went to see him a few times in Mill Valley and broke all ties with my spiritual teacher after the first visit. When U.G. said surrendering to a teacher was surrendering your self-reliance, and that not one of them had anything to impart, it somehow resonated.
I returned to the East Coast and spent the summer in Maine; from there I phoned U.G. in Switzerland and offered him the use of my apartment in New York if he should come in the fall.
At first he said no thank you. But on his arrival in New York in September, amazingly, his rented studio apartment having fallen through, he took me up on my offer, insisting only that I not move out (which I had intended to do), and that I give him the maid's room as he only felt comfortable in small spaces.
It was my 49th birthday. Strangely, it did not strike me as unusual that he would arrive at my door with his small bag and minimal possessions and simply move in with someone he barely knew.
I began keeping a journal from the first day. Somehow I felt his visit was going to be unusual, perhaps epic, and I wanted to remember details as they presented themselves. The journal continues somewhat sporadically to this day and it depicts a story that seems to have no definitive end.
I have taken journal excepts from the first year, the year I went twice around the world with U.G. I have not changed anything, though things look different to me now, over ten years later. Many of the photographs are extracted from video footage, thus their grainy, fuzzy quality—the others are original photographs.
To say U.G. is unknowable is an understatement. He doesn't even know himself. I can only tell what happened to me, someone who unexpectedly fell into close contact with the most inscrutable, extraordinary of men.
My thanks to all the people who have helped me so faithfully with this book.