Faith Put to the Test

I Want You to Teach Me: Nikhil Jain and Donna Crisafulli

First Recorded

June 18, 2015


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When Nikhil Jain moved to the United States from India, he began teaching meditation, and the experience deepened his spirituality and gave him confidence in the existence of God. In this conversation, Jain discusses with his friend Donna Crisfulli his difficulties following his father's suicide, and his resulting decision to leave and eventually return to teaching meditation.

This story was produced by StoryCorps.

This story is a part of the American Pilgrimage Project, a conversation series that invites Americans of diverse backgrounds to sit together and talk to each other one-to-one about the role their religious beliefs play at crucial moments in their lives. The interview was recorded and produced by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity‚Äôs stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. 

Nikhil Jain and Donna Crisafulli

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Nikhil Jain: I always felt that there is God, but the way it was defined to me was not really making any sense to me while I was growing up. That is something that I picked up much later after I got introduced to meditation and my spiritual master. And he's someone who's really taken me from being a believer with no faith, to a believer who has complete faith in God.

Donna Crisfulli: Do you remember a time then when your core beliefs, in terms of the spirituality that you've learned and come into through your mentor, was there a time when that was put to a test?

Nikhil Jain: Yes. In 2011, I decided that meditation has brought such a big impact to me. It has made my life so much richer that I'm going to become a meditation teacher. Things were moving along really nicely. And I was feeling very good about everything that the practice of meditation had brought to my life. And one day it was a Sunday morning, and I was coming back after meeting my meditation group. And I got a phone call from my brother-in-law in India telling me that my father had passed away. He committed suicide and I was just shattered. I also felt very empty from within that something that I had developed so much passion for, could not even give me the strength to help my own father. I knew he was going through depression. I knew he needed help. And I had broached this topic to him many times, and he would just completely ignore or not really care about what I was offering.

And it just didn't make any sense for me to continue on that path anymore.

Donna Crisfulli: So you lost faith at that point?

Nikhil Jain: I saw that it was benefiting me. So it's not like I lost faith in the whole concept as such, but the idea that I could do something about it as a teacher or as a facilitator, that I could really progress anymore on this path. I just completely gave up on that idea at the time. And eventually something very beautiful happened one day. A friend of mine who I'd known for a few years as a very cheerful, happy person, one day called me andsaid that I need your help. Things are not going too well. I feel like I have everything, but I have lost the ability to enjoy what I have. And I was like, why are you calling me?

What do you think I can do to help you? He's like, I always knew that you have been meditating for these years, and I want you to teach me. And I told him that I've stopped doing that. He said, no, I really want you to do this for me. So I was like, okay. The first session that he went through and the smile on his face and the tears in his eyes, I tell you that combination is super powerful, when you see someone go through such an experience.

And I immediately knew that the experience I had had was not for me to lose faith, but to start seeing the responsibility I have. After that day, I can say that I started seeing that in every heart that is crying for help, there is my father making me go and take two steps more towards them. I started seeing that his spirit stays alive with me, and gives me so much more enthusiasm and so much more courage to go beyond my own boundaries, to go beyond my own mind that limits me, that restricts me. To go further and just offer that helping hand to anyone who needs it.

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