She is young, beautiful and an Indian pediatrician, living among the Yellow roses of Texas.
I received a friend request from her on Facebook. This was quite some time ago. I was standing at the edge of the sea in the ocean of my mind. I was looking at the vast expanse of waters under the summer sun of India. I thought it would be prudent to accept her request. She was reaching out to me from the American continent. It was a touch of the sun.
I thought we are all souls. We are neither men or women. That part comes later. It only complicates our lives. It is an offshoot of being born in this world. It is a later day development or grossness. It develops as we live in this world. We become aware of our body parts. And become defined by them into being men and women. Not that there is anything wrong in that. It is just that we become conscious of our bodily differences. The difference becomes of overriding importance. We lose sight of the fact that we are souls. If only we remained focused on the common link. The bodily differences would lose their importance. We have to rise above our bodily differences.
We need to remember we are not bodies. We are something more than just that. But we get fixated on that. And, we lose touch with our real selves. We begin our fall. Likewise, we get stuck with so many things in our lives. It could be our caste, our complexion, our status, our society, our country and our race. Even if, we don’t, we fall in line with the thinking of most of the people. We find comfort in numbers.
While thinking the above, I clicked on her picture.
I wanted to see what sort of a person she was. I am wary of women who send me a friend request, dressed as if out for a kill. I have become alert all the more of abhyasis, especially who are on the wrong side of fifty. One would expect them not to take interest in these women. They befriend them. These women use this to send a friend’ request to you. In the photograph, her hand was cupping her face. Or you can say her chin was resting on the palm of her hand. She had a nice smile with a sparkle in her eyes. She had even more sparkling white teeth. She did not come out to me as strong. She seemed a gentle soul.
I wouldn’t be able to tell you if my heart missed a beat on seeing her picture. My doctors say my heart is already missing too many beats. They tell me I am suffering from arrhythmia. I am too cold to care whether I live or die. Didn’t Chariji say in Germany that life is a time for preparing oneself to go back home? I have done my bit of preparing for my journey back home. Though I say this, I can’t understand this concept of going back. If we are only going back, why did we ever come out in the first place? If I had a choice, I would have stayed back there. Even now, I mostly stay at home. I let others go round and round in circles until they drop dead. Didn’t Khalil Gibran say in whichever direction you go, you are heading back to the place, you come from? Our Earth is round, isn’t it? If only one would stay in one place. The people meant to come into your life would still do so.
Didn’t she show up on my doorstep? I didn’t go in search of her or anybody for that matter. People have come into my life on their own. It is people who have befriended me. When they have done that I keep them for life even if they leave me.
I believe that Chariji was right. He said that human thinking has not changed for eons. It has remained much the same. People take birth. They grow up, get jobs, marry, have children, and help them grow up like the carbon copy of themselves, become old and die. They have been doing this for centuries. In the process, they have given meaning to a life that has very little meaning. J. Krishnamurti, often, said this in his talks and lectures.
We have had Ram, Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, Prophet Mohammad, Lalaji, Babuji, and Chariji. They have come and gone. Even I myself am not too well now. (Did I hear somebody sniggering?) I am listing myself among the greats not for nothing. If we want to become like Master, we have to learn to act like Master. How can we become Master, if we don’t behave like one? That is one of the reasons why so much power is being given to preceptors these days. If preceptors don’t start behaving like Master how will they learn to act like him? It is up to them to maintain their condition. They have to do their abhyas regularly. The same goes for abhyasis, too. But we have we not learned anything from any of the greats named above? We just pay obeisance to them.We have not learned to live in peace with one another. We are still men and women, rich or poor, white or black, yellow or brown, aren’t we?
We all are seeking immortality through our differences. I am better than or superior to you in this or that. It is our egos that are at work all the time. It is never the teachings of those great saints. If their teachings did, the ego would die or vanish from the human existence. We would then live in less conflict but more in harmony with one another on Earth. But do we really want to die? No, I don’t think so. We cling to our egos. We seek immortality through our work and names. If not through these, then by giving birth. We think we would be able to live forever through our children, and our children’s children, and their children. We are afraid of oblivion.
In oblivion, there is no name, no ego, and no individual souls-just one soul. Like all rivers, losing their identities when they merge with the ocean. One can’t be immortal as an ego. Your ego dies with you. Actually, it doesn’t. It gets passed on into another life with your divine or impure consciousness. If you are a miser in this life, you will be one in the next life, too. That trait would get passed on into another life if you have not done anything to get rid of it. It has become so much part of your divine or impure consciousness. You will die again and again until you get rid of this impurity in your divine consciousness. Is that the way you want to live forever i.e., by dying again and again? Or by seeing yourself as a soul-less soul? If you saw yourself as that, all other impurities would drop off. You would become deathless death. There would be no death after this death. There would be no life either to die for. To live you have to die. Just as you have to die to live. Tricky, isn’t it? But if you look beyond the waves, as Osho used to say, you would come to know that which was never born, never dies.
I saw in her an endless soul.
I accepted her request. Then, I forgot all about it until recently.
I posted on my Facebook page. She liked it enough to comment on it.
“There are so few with whom we can scream and shout insults within a ‘safe space’. Lovely story, thanks for sharing,” she said. The safe space she had referred to was one in which my friend and I could scream and shout at one another. The shouting bouts did not affect our friendliness in any way.
I wrote back to her.
“I wish (her name) I could shout thanks to you from across the seas but it would get lost in the noise of the world,” I said in my message.
I did say I was in the ocean of my mind?
I think few people read my posts. Fewer still comment upon it. I wanted to welcome her to the fold.
On hearing it, she exclaimed, “My God, that’s so beautiful. Who ARE you?”
It seemed she had already found a safe niche in me. She had already begun shouting at me. One can’t get louder than that on the internet? Otherwise, I wouldn’t have heard her, this side of the Suez Canal if she hadn’t. I too may have looked harmless to her as she did when I accepted her request. We could not harm one another. If worse came to worst, the vast expanse of water would stop us from punching one another. But her loud question did leave me wondering what I could tell her? I don’t know anything about myself. I thought I was honour bound to answer her.
I wrote back to her.
“I thought the story was introduction enough,” I said.
She was one of her kind.
“So well-played,” she rebuffed me. “I love a guy that knows how to play.”
Her reply flabbergasted me.
My God, she thinks I am playing with her, I thought. Is she cynical? Does she think all men are the same? They see a woman and they start practicing their lines on her. She doesn’t know I have only been a bystander all my life. I have never played games. I have only watched them from a distance.
Or was she behaving like a true pediatrician?
By taking care of a grown up man as she would a child? That is bringing him to heel without hurting his male ego? Does she know that a man is always a child, only his toys keep on changing? When he grows up, he starts playing with dolls like her. But, then, as I always tell people, I am not a man. I never had a childhood. I never played with toys. How could I learn to play with women or their emotions or anybody for that matter?
Grow up, man! I keep hearing that from people.
Grow up to what? Accepting things as they are? When you do, you become part of a world. It is full of lies, deceit, hypocrisy, corruption, drinking binges and immorality? Maturity is the death of an individual in man. One hands in the towel and joins the horde of masses. This has become a norm in our society. Somebody commits a crime and spends time in jail. Then, it is business as usual. No boycott or ostracism of him or his family by the people. Their children continue to mix with the criminals’. They pick up some of their habits and attributes. Then, the conflict begins in their homes. How come they have that and we don’t? This conflict is more so in Government flats where people of the same rank and pay live together in a colony. Some people flaunt their ill-gotten gains. They want to show that they are different from others. That is how we live.
I didn’t have to prove anything to her or impress her with.
“Sorry,” I apologised to her. “You have it wrong. What I meant was the story gave all the information about me. I am an old abhyasi and a cantankerous one, who is trying his hand at writing. The word ‘play’ has an evil connotation. There was a time, I did want to become a writer. Sometimes pieces come out of me from somewhere. I share these with people.”
Basically, I told her that I was a raconteur. I was looking forward to more readership. Otherwise, what good is any writing if there is nobody to read it?
“I got it all right then,” she said. “I figured you for an old and cantankerous fellow with a lot of hidden art to share. If you ever want to write a piece you want me to see I would love to share it on my blog. I say ‘me’ because my blog doesn’t have a big audience but it matters to me and gives me joy and satisfaction.”
She was coming out as a tough woman.
She was not ready to let me off the hook that easily. She wanted to keep on tenterhooks. If I acted fresh again, she could throw the aberration in my face. But at the same time she didn’t want to hurt me. She may have thought I could be unaware of what I had said. She offered me a large readership.
I tried to buy myself out of a difficult situation.
“Well, you can share the piece if you like. My pieces are for everybody I have my blog too on word press. It is www. whyraj.wordpress.com,” I said.
“I didn’t know you had a blog,” she said. She had really begun to talk. Her fences were down. Mine were up still.
It sounded to me as if she had known me a lifetime or several lifetimes. People meet in life either to settle accounts or clear them off. When they don’t have anything outstanding against one another, they don’t ever show up in each other’s life. The learned people call that a zero experience in some spiritual organisations. Is that why she had showed up so late in my life? What could be the reason? It is no fun not knowing what you are being rewarded or punished for in this life for something you had done in a previous ones.
Her voice had travelled to me over the sound of the waves. One always has to scream and shout to get my attention. My mind is always tossing on the ocean. My friends and relatives tell me that I need shaking up to become part of the world.
“I read some of the articles and found them poetic and fascinating. ‘La Maestra Hermosa’ was nice. The only thing is that you stop short of telling us something essential about yourself.”
Am I supposed to lay myself threadbare for everybody? Are writers not entitled to some privacy of their own? I tried to hedge and hem out of a tough situation with some high-flown stuff.
“The day I do, I will let the world know,” I said. “But I am afraid that day, I will also discover that it is nothing worth telling. Everybody has something in him or her. So why bother to tell.”
I say this to my friends often when they tell me I don’t tell them anything about myself.
She saw through my game.
“Well I don’t know about the world but you could at least tell me,” she said. “Whatever it is would be beautiful to see. Your cynical tone is a pretense.”
Do I make myself that obvious to everybody? I pretend to be pretentious? But that is what happens. When you say you are a charlatan, nobody believes you. But that is their tragedy-not my sorrow. I don’t want to become a victim of their fraud. But one thing I have never understood in my life. Why have women been curious to know more about me than men?
Men’s reaction has been either it is my business or I am an idiot who doesn’t know what I am missing out on in life?
My boss’s wife asked me once why I never got married. It was a media organization that had its office at my boss’s house. He left early morning to work in a daily newspaper only to return late in the evening. Before me, he had never hired any man to run his office at home. It was young girls or women. He always said that his house had a homely atmosphere. He had a lot of women visitors and relatives coming to stay at his when on a visit to the capital. Then, a journalist asked me to help him in organizing an international conference. After it was over, he wanted to break the rule of having no male employees in his house. He wanted to hire me. I was not doing anything. I accepted his offer. Many people who frequented that place told me that he never hires men-only women, how come he had hired me?
It made me wonder if my boss thought I would not run off with somebody from his household. Or worse still nobody from his family would want to run off with me. Or better still he trusted my middle-class morality and looks. None could persuade me because of it.
One more instance would be a young colleague. She walked into my cabin in an anti-child labour organization.
“Mind if I ask you something,” she asked.
“What,” I said in turn.
“It is something personal,” she said. “Are you sure, you won’t mind.”
“Why would I,” I assured her.
“Why did you not ever get married,” she said.
“I will tell you,” I said. “But, first tell me how my non-marital status concerns you.”
She was not able to give me a convincing answer. She walked out in a huff muttering to herself that I didn’t want to answer.
Then it was the turn of the Yellow Rose. Where was the need to know me? She had read the piece. She could move on to another. Or she could do one better. She could write a story. There are stories waiting to be written in the world. But she wanted to stay with my story. She wanted to know more about me. I was not willing to tell.
I wanted to tell her, “I’m large, I contain multitudes,” to put her off. I didn’t want to tell her anything. Even my closest friends have told me that I don’t tell them anything. But in her case, a Hindu philosophy stopped me from saying it. It says, “If you save somebody’s life once, you have to save it, again and again. If you don’t, it is of no use having saved it the first time.”
My theory is different. If I didn’t want to field her questions, I should not have accepted her friend request or posted my story on Facebook. One kind of takes on the other person’s sanskaras on oneself when one does that. This is what Master also does. He too takes on our sanskaras upon himself and then cleans them off or keeps them with himself to keep alive. If He had no sanskaras left, He would leave this world. Strange isn’t it how things work?
I told her what I had to.
“I am pretentious,” I said. “In my lucid moments, I call myself a charlatan. I pretend to have knowledge and skills that I don’t have. I say this so blatantly that nobody wants to believe. But that is their tragedy-not my sorrow.”
After I said that I thought what was there to hide in that? I had made a heavy weather of it.
“Your description of yourself is what I feel about myself but I couldn’t have worded it so well,” she said. “Daaji made me a prefect but I hang out here like a leaf blowing in the wind. I have no idea what I am doing but I have to tell people something so I make it up. It is easier that way. It would take too long to explain the reality and I am too lazy to spend so much time on it.”
We are two of a kind. I don’t know what I am doing. I make up things as I go along. Am I not doing the same thing now? I am making up things to make them acceptable to her and people? The reality is so hard to explain. It is all the more so when, I, myself, am confused. But reality needs to be explained. If one doesn’t, the people would go away.
Was she a fraud, too? Self-confession not followed by change is a game, a manipulation. I confess many things. I don’t try to change them or myself.
I don’t stop being pretentious.
“I know Daaji a little,” I said. “I knew he would have made you a prefect. The thought came to me today.”
I hardly know Daaji. I have never met him after Chariji left for the ‘Brighter World’. Nevertheless, I go on mouthing learned things.
“A leaf tries to hang on to its branch. The leaf doesn’t want to let go of its relationship to the branch and the tree. Let yourself be blown away in the wind. Don’t bother about knowing what you are doing. You are a conduit. Let Daaji do the work through you. Enjoy the sensation of drifting (read the feeling of lightness) in the wind. And let yourself go wherever the wind ( read Daaji) takes you. The branch or the tree restricts your movement. They want to keep you tied to them. Let go both of them to experience the freedom and exhilaration of being free. Remember the famous lines of Carson McCullers of ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ fame? “Who has seen the wind neither you nor I. When the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by.” When you are revering Master, you will know He is flowing through you. And don’t get impressed by charlatans like me. We are a big distraction. There are too many of us out there.”
The plaintiff returns with a “I am afraid” plea.
Is she afraid of oblivion? Outflows my long chain of thoughts.
“When the River Ganga runs into the Bay of Bengal, it loses its identity and even its sanctity or purity. The Bay of Bengal is a dirty sea or an ocean. No wonder, nobody can drink water from it. The sea or the ocean accommodates all the ills of the world in it almost like Master. Likewise the good or the bad in man is of no use. He has to leave everything not to be born again. It is only then he can go to his original home. Doesn’t she understand this? Like a leaf, she wants to cling to its branch. And through it to the tree and through the tree to the material world but more importantly to herself or better still to her identity.
I wasn’t done with her even then.
I did warn you, I am pretentious. When the floodgates of heaven open up, the deluge follows. My verbosity is a spillover from earlier lifetimes that needs to be got rid of. If not now, I will be born again to complete the job. So here I go again with all my rubbish one more time.
“The Ganga may merge with the Bay of Bengal or the sea or the ocean. If a straw still clings to its identity after floating on the surface of the Ganga, then it has not merged with the river. It is only polluting Ganga or the ocean in the end. It will continue to float on the surface of the ocean. In time, it would wither away to merge with the ocean to become one with it. Your ego is that straw that stops you from merging with the ocean. If you go on meditating, your ego would wither and disappear into the absolute.”
She tried to stop the deluge from me.
“And, don’t worry,” she said. “It takes more than a dry wit, a self-deprecating sense of humour, brooding eyes, egalitarian nature and a poetic nature to impress me.”
I felt relieved. She could take care of herself. But my mind was working overtime. It always does at the slightest provocation. It always reads too much even when there is not much to read.
I had half a mind to ask her if she was saying she was thick-skinned. If she was, it wouldn’t do. In Sahaj Marg, one had to be vulnerable and pliable. One couldn’t be rigid and inflexible stubborn, hard-headed and obtuse. If one was, one would not stay open to suggestion from Master in a particular direction. One would be stuck in one condition. There would no progress for one. One has to be open-minded and accessible. Yet one has to be alert all the time to choose the good from the bad. As if one is on sentinel duty 24 x 7. Hasn’t somebody said the price of freedom is eternal vigilance?
But we don’t want to be vigilant. We want others to be vigilant. For example, we want the watchman in our housing society to vigilant; we want the policeman to be vigilant. We want the politicians to be vigilant. We want our administrators to be vigilant. We don’t want to make them vigilant by keeping an eye on them, holding them accountable for their actions. Our motto is let us live in this moment. We will take them to task tomorrow or day after. That tomorrow never comes. In life, it is always today. The only thing is we don’t know it. This is one of the reasons why we always drop anchor in the here and now. That is the only reality we ever know.
This is my family. This is my society. This is my community. This is my caste. This is my religion. This is my race. This is my country. This is my world. The moment you say this is my life, you create conflict everywhere. You are creating a world of your own. You are out there alone in the world. So we settle for doing things others are doing. Didn’t somebody say we find security in numbers? More, the merrier! This is why we have not been able to break this cycle of births and deaths. Everybody dies and gets reborn. Why should I do something different?
We are still stuck with the so-called sin of Adam and Eve. If it was a sin, why then do we go on repeating it? It is something like people writing about somebody in obituaries. The deceased had loved the good things in life. It is a euphemistic way of saying he was a debauch. It shows confusion. Considering something as good but not practicing it. Your heart believes in something. The mind thwarts it. The fear of what people would say haunts you. A man is a bundle of contradictions. No wonder he is in conflict all the time.
Any wonder then why meditation becomes important. It takes conflict away from you and restores singleness of thought. This is why the cleaning process in our abhyas becomes imperative.
By now, you might be wondering all this is fine but what I am doing with a beautiful, young woman whom I call her the Yellow Rose of Texas, who is almost half my age? Nothing. I don’t even know her. I only know I penned down something that I experienced in Ashram-Chennai. She reached out to me from across the seas or at least her words did. I just responded.
It was something like the sea of life had thrown a mermaid up my beach. I tried to put her back into the sea. God and Master can’t be present anywhere. They come in forms of people, ideas and what not to change the course of our actions. I changed only her direction towards our common Master. This is why Babuji tried to see his Guru Lalaji in the form of all human beings. He did not see any good or bad in a man. He performed surgical operations to remove both. It was not enough to remove the bad in man. The good would also keep him coming back in life to enjoy the fruits of the labour of being good. It only exposes us to the danger of our falling like Adam and Eve. Their own forms felt good to the touch. Their arms did not run through their bodies. The bodies felt warm and solid. They then touched one another’s. The man’s body felt muscular, strong, and hard to woman, and the woman’s soft and curvaceous to man. The fall took place. One always seeks in the other what one does not have.
What was she seeking? I wouldn’t know. All I know from one of her posts she wanted to break this cycle of births and deaths. Was she afraid of the possibility of being born again in not so well off and privileged family? One sees so much in life that one begins to think of life as a game of dice. You don’t how it would land. You could be born in an impoverished family in the next. This is why Chariji used to emphasise that spirituality was all here and now. You couldn’t leave anything for tomorrow. You can never be sure of if there is a tomorrow for you. Is there going to be a tomorrow for me too? I don’t know. All I know is that I am already at the end of my spectrum.
“If you do, it’s ok. I will write about the encounter we will have in Kanha.”
What encounter? I am not interested in encounters. I am only interested in an exchange of ideas. In this nearness or physical proximity is unnecessary. Thoughts and ideas can float across in air like so many waves in the ocean. She was one thought that I had picked up. It developed it into a long piece. This output might shock her into saying, “I appreciated only his post. Where did all this come from?”
I don’t know. All I know is that human beings are not computers. You provide stimulus. You can’t expect the viewer to give you an exact response. We do live in a world of hard disks, mother-boards, keyboards, and monitors but we are not robots. We are not as cold as them. You pound on the keyboard. You get an exact response on your computer screen. We tap somebody’s point. Eyes can be one point. Touch another, hearing one more. And out comes a response which may not be to your liking. Then, you complain. Men are beasts.
They could be!
When you drive, you obey traffic rules for your own safety. You don’t want anybody to bang you from any side or you don’t want to bang anybody. Yet, accidents do happen. Either it is your mistake or of others. But you don’t stop obeying rules, do you? There would always be a few drunk and careless drivers in the world. The same way, the women have to be careful in the way they dress and speak in the streets and their homes.
Chariji once said that the world has progressed when women have not given off themselves that easily. They have held societies and the world together if they have been strong. The tragedy is more and more women are joining the ranks of men. The adage, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, seems to be ringing true. The world is sliding into a bottomless pit.
Besides, I am a dying old man. I am more interested in finding out if Master will come to take me when I die. Isn’t our abhyas a preparation for that? In life, I could never meet him. I never wanted to fight my way to him through a horde of abhyasis and his security guards. I was so much disciplined. I never got to see Chariji’s house because of that. Every time I planned to go when Chariji was staying there, the powers that be made announcements in Ashram- Chennai that abhyasis should not visit him. I used to drop my plan. I even remember when the Yellow Rose talked about the time when Daaji had asked young abhyasis to meet him in the hall in the auditorium block. She had gone there against the diktat. I, too, was there in Ashram-Chennai. I not had gone though my heart had said I should. Not that I have anything against her for doing that. She had followed her heart and gone. But it made me think. When people say follow your heart, who actually decides that? Just think! It is the mind which decides that. So actually both the mind and the heart have to work in tandem for one to be successful in anything. Why are we being derisive of our minds so much? Even Babuji and Chariji have said that the mind can be a good instrument for change if used properly. In my case, it has always been the mind that has ruled the heart. If somebody said no to something, it meant no to me. For instance, I have seen some abhyasis exhorting others not to crowd around Master and not to trouble him. All this before Master shows up. When he does, it is like every man for himself and let the devil take the hindmost. Would Master let the devil take me? I have always found myself hustled to the periphery around him all the time.
In the end, if you ask what has all this to do with her? Nothing! The world in itself is a harsh place. I saw a yellow rose standing up to the harsh light of the summer sun. I watered the flower with words. As Osho used to say, “Once your mind is engaged with words, you are available to me; your heart is available to me.” When you talk to the flowers and plants, they grow more lovely. So, the real work (read Master’s work) was being done through words. She served as a peg for me to hang my/my Master’s ideas upon. If it had been only me, would you be reading this? A woman always adds romance or availability to anything.
The Yellow Rose could be right about one thing though. Remember she said, “Well, played.” As I said earlier, I am not a player. Master is the real player. We are tools in his hands. He exposes us to various situations. Through these, He chisels us as he thinks fit. Let him play. Amen!