86th Street and Central Park West, Manhattan.

Fast moving, hustling crowds, taxis blaring, high fashion struttin' in style.

It's 1972.

In the midst of the frenetic high-paced action is a calm island of tranquility as a crowd gathers around a skinny, bearded young man wrapped in a paisley tablecloth, in lotus position, staring at his nose and radiating peace to the seekers who gravitate to his vibes. A guru, a swami, here in the Big Apple! Even hardened New Yorkers were bemused.

He gives interviews to the media, in a hand-sign language so as not to break his meditative silence, the eastern techniques he has followed with unswerving discipline to bring him to this state.

He cashed out of the business and joined the Sixties' seekersSwami was not raised in a Himalayan enclave, but in a typical Jewish American home. His name wasn't exotic either, just Gil Locks, a nice Jewish boy. A stint in Japan with the U.S. Marines was the first chink in Gil's worldview of Western materialism. He was fascinated by martial arts and the Buddhist detachment, but headed for college and the road of business success upon returning to the States.

Soon, Gil was living the American dream with a designer home, luxury car and executive status. But the emptiness gnawed at him. "When I make even more money, will I have to buy a bigger house? Is this what I'm in the world for?"

Barefoot hippies caught his eye. He cashed out of the business and joined the Sixties' seekers for a deeper and encompassing truth. Hitchhiking through Northern California, seeking organic life in Mexico, he pushed beyond society's conventions and expectations. Gil ran into an elderly yogi who showed him "an amazing movie of her guru in India."

Off to find the ultimate, Gil was soon on a plane headed to the guru's ashram in central South India. He absorbed the Hindu teachings and devoted himself with zeal to reaching the spiritual heights the path promised. Long years of deep meditation and extreme practices "brought me no joy, just a stronger and stronger desire to find the Eternal."

Over time, he saw the guru's discrepancies and perversions that contradicted their spiritual pretensions. He returned to America "where I spoke the language and could help someone."

Meandering through raucous travels and adventures, Gil attracted other wandering souls. "They said they got a special feeling from me. Something radiated from me that elevated them to think about G‑d." The free spirits followed the wind and a feeling of guidance, leading them across the country to a bench outside Central Park. Gil sat to rest, and felt magnetized to the spot. Others gravitated to the mellow energy, and the NY Times reported on the "Central Park Guru Grooving on the Grass."

Fast forward a decade. Our intrepid idealist transformed his persona, becomng a passionate and devout Jew who now resides in the Old City of Jerusalem, a short walk from the Western Wall, How did guru morph into gefilte fish and graggers?

Guru Trip Wears Thin

"I was meditating 23 hours a day. The highs were ecstatic and the lows were painful, with lows more frequent than the highs." Gil wondered, "Why have I been stuck all those years in my chair for the little bit of good I am doing?" He ventured into Christianity, but recognized its fallacies. He decided to "try the Jewish commandments."

Hmmm, well, there is a commandment to put fringes on the garment corners. The Sages explain this means tzitzit, but Gil only knew the original verse in his Bible. Purchasing yarn for tassels in the local yarn shop, Gil earnestly tied one on each corner, including his shirt collar, shirtsleeve, and top of his pants. Looking like a couch cover, Gil proceeded to try more mitzvot with innocent devotion, and made his way to Jerusalem. Through the ensuing years of humorous and poignant adventures, Gil grew into the deep, grounded and true Torah spirituality.

Through the ensuing years of humorous and poignant adventures, Gil grew into the deep, grounded and true Torah spiritualityToday, Gil's intense devotion and drive to seek Oneness has found fertile ground where it can embed its deep roots to face any wind. From his apartment in the ancient Old City, Gil goes to commune with his Creator at the sunrise minyan at the Western Wall. He shares his inspiration with students throughout the world, through his writing, mailing list and website. Innovative graphics illuminated with Chassidic teachings illustrate the aspect of G‑dliness that brings the multi-faceted creation into being. He also teaches an online course in Jewish Meditation for the Michigan Jewish Institute. After many arduous years of struggling to find unity through the multiplicity of Eastern and Christian paths, Gil is especially attuned to this deep core of Judaism.

Gil has penned five books. He compiled a book on Gematria, the numeric mystical meaning of the words of the Torah. His autobiography, "Coming Back to Earth," is an entertaining recollection of his spiritual journey, especially informative for seekers ensconced or entranced by Eastern paths, as are his other works, "Taming the Raging Mind" and "There is One."

Gil is well-known at the Western Wall's Chabad Tefillin Booth. With humor, warmth and love, he helps thousands of Jews, tourists, seekers, cool Israelis, soldiers, visiting politicians, to try this mitzvah. Making the experience personal and meaningful, he asks the person to "picture everyone in your family, one at a time. Try to picture them with light on their faces and smiling. Pray for their well-being, and for everyone you love. Pray for all of us. Don't forget our soldiers, Jews in dangerous places, and those in the hospitals hurting."

Sharing lessons learned the hard way, Gil gives hope and direction to many. "Why did I have to go through these long and torturous steps before I came home?" he muses. Though he usually describes his days wrapped in a tablecloth with his hair tied in a knot on his head with humor, "It was not really much fun to sit there in my hut in the woods, holding my hands clenched until they cracked and bled. Nor were those many months of having demons torture me during times of great joy." But when called in desperation by a worried young man whose Buddhist meditation started turning into voices and a wrestle with evil forces, Gil was able to guide him as only one who knows the terrain can.

Rather than walk away from his past, its unique and crazy lessons are utilized to help others. Gil's mission now is not to "escape the movie and come to a place where the world just doesn't affect you anymore," but to live up to what he has found to be the highest teaching of the Torah, encapsulated in the words of the Rebbe Maharash, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch: "One ought to know the route to the supernal chambers, though it is not necessary. All you need is to help your fellow with a complete heart, to take pleasure in doing another person a favor."