In many ways, Surya Das, 58, remains Jeffrey Miller, the Jewish, three-sport high school letterman from Long Island. Miller enrolled at the University of Buffalo in the late 1960s and like many of his friends with college draft exemptions, took part in the demonstrations against the Vietnam War. He got tear-gassed in Washington. He survived the mud-slicked bliss of Woodstock.
The anger and frustration over the war culminated for Miller in the clash between students and the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University in 1970.
Allison Krause, the girlfriend of one of his best high school friends, was one of the four students shot and killed by guardsmen. Violence, he concluded, was not a path to peace. And trading a bachelor’s degree in psychology for a job was not a way to contentment.
“Those were heavy times,” he said. “I was looking for something different. I was always a questioner, following my heart and sniffing around with my nose for a way to find peace, to become peace. I headed east.”