There was admittedly a certain fascination (for me) with seeing Nephew of the Universe.
The Indian spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy, whose meditation center, one of many, was located in Queens, NY, was well-known during my time in late 90’s NYC. (I even partook in the Sri Chinmoy runners snack table during the NYC Marathon one year. The stop was kind of funky but everyone seemed nice, in a friendly cultish sort of way, and I really needed that browning banana at mile 13.5!)
But certainly no one knows this elusive guru better than Rob Brunner who spent is young years under Chinmoy’s wing as close family and most loved disciple, thanks to his aunt Esther who helped sponsor Chinmoy’s move to America.
Rob Bruner is an innocent kid, looking for a father figure and finds one, at least a dependable one in Chinmoy. But no matter how many privileges, or pep talks or decrees issued to curb his (and every disciple’s) ‘vital’ – his normal sexual desires for women, and his natural ambitions, he just can’t stop finding either thing attractive or longing for a normal life or wanting really badly to become a rock star.
Rob’s story is really no surprise. Boy, boy’s mother and siblings, get dumped by dad who re-marries and moves far enough away to have barely any contact. Mom decides on a radical change and joins uber spiritual sister who just happens to be promoting the next new holy man much like Beatles favorite, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or even Sri Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Integral Yoga. Boy gets the attention and for all intensive purposes, fatherly love. Boy devotes entire purpose of life revering said paternal replacement and gives up pretty much all normal teen and young adult experiences in reverence to devotion. Boy becomes slightly disenfranchised over time with the whole experience and wants to move on. Guilt. More guilt. Inexhaustible guilt. Then, boom! Breaks free. FREE!
It’s a sweet story, filled with silly tales, a famous buddy and musical interludes, which thankfully include no sexual violence or creepy weirdness, just a lot of confusion and frustrated teen hormones.
Really easy humor. Bruner is a natural and gifted storyteller who puts a positive spin on a part of his life that could easily be told in a different extreme.
Everyone gets a second chance. Rob gets a cat’s life or at least an extra fare.