Part 1, chapter five
Occasionally I was lucky enough to run into a kindred soul who was passing through Delhi for a short spell, and, upon meeting and becoming acquainted, we would enjoy each other’s company for a few days, which allowed me the necessary respite of communion, before we inevitably said our goodbyes and I was yanked back into my solitary labors.
One fellow I met in a dirty little restaurant in the old city, was a long-haired Brit who had come to India for a number of reasons, one of which was to seek out a venerated astrologer living in the area. This Brit, Thomas, had read a few books by the astrologer, but had not considered visiting him until a month earlier, when, back in England, Thomas had the inspiration that he should go to India. Although he was penniless at the moment of his inspiration, circumstances worked in his favor- as they do when providence is at the wheel- providing him, within little more than a month, enough money to undertake the inspired journey, and there he was.
He and I spent a number of evenings together, sitting on the rooftop of the Camron Lodge, drinking rum, and discussing the subtle forces and subliminal fields which create the conditions of one’s life and destiny. Thomas had a wise carelessness about him, which made him a pleasant companion, though this unconcerned disposition of his was largely due to the fact that he had fatalistically given himself over to impervious powers, which were in control of his life today and forever. It was this acceptance of his powerlessness which gave him such apparent equanimity and poise. However, one day he came to my hotel room a broken man. He had just come from seeing his astrological idol, who had read his charts, and failure was written all over Thomas’ face.
Apparently the highly respected star-reader had told Thomas that he was on the completely wrong path, and that he should give up his metaphysical yearnings, return to England, go to a trade college, and learn some sort of useful workingman’s occupation. Thomas was devastated. And not only that, he was in full confidence that this guru was correct.
I was in disbelief, although I can see now that Thomas’s seemingly unshakable nonchalance and inner peace were merely phantoms easily extinguished the moment his idealistic beliefs turned against him. Which is to say that all was well and good with him when he was a seeker, a wanderer, and man of the spirit, but it all turned sour when he became a ditch-digger or an electrician, which were the types of fate that he now seemed reluctant and yet determined to accept.
Well, I gave it my best shot to convince him that this astrologer was a charlatan- as all ‘experts’ are charlatans, no matter what their faculty- and tried to persuade him that there was only one voice worthy of listening to- his own. I’m not certain how well I succeeded, however, because when a person has given their power away, and wants to give it away, there is little chance of helping them win it back.
Thomas and I parted a few days later, and off he went to whatever demoralized destiny he had finally accepted, and off I went to the one I had accepted.
A number of weeks later I was again granted a brief respite by the appearance of a middle-aged Australian vagabond named Arnold, who had been to India many times before, but had returned this spring not out of personal desire, but instead to search for his older brother, who had disappeared without a trace a number of months earlier. I was glad to have Arnold’s company, but sad for him because of his almost certain loss. He and I spent a few days together, going around to travel agents, shopkeepers, and government offices, distributing his brother’s photo and description, though we both had little hope that the search would turn out favorably. For the most part we simply hung out together, and found communion in that foreign land from which neither of us had any idea when we would leave.
Arnold was a brilliant talker, when his mind turned away from its sorrows. He was the type of guy who had read so much, thought so much, and conversed so much, that he was a neverending wellspring of fringe concepts, obtuse understandings, and esoteric tales. And it was a fabulous treat for me to be amongst a member of my tribe, and to sit back and listen to his assimilations, evocations, and conclusions about life and why it is the way it is.
And yet, of all the things about which he spoke during our days together, the stories of his brother were the most interesting to me, because, from Arnold’s point of view, his brother was no less than a mukta- a God-knower. Albeit, his brother was a God-knower who had earned his daily bread by smuggling a half-kilo of hash out of India, rolled up in five gram balls, wrapped in cellophane, and swallowed into his stomach, every time he ran out of cash. But he was a God-knower nonetheless. And although I never met Arnold’s brother, and cannot confirm his spiritual constitution, I can declare, from Arnold’s descriptions of him, if nothing more, that I was hearing about one of a rare breed of individuals on this earth. Which is to say, I was hearing about …a man. And by that I mean, I heard of an individual who lived without fear, without shame, without guilt, and without self-denial. And such descriptions in Arnold’s stories about him kept me ever present in our lengthy conversations.
Half a year later I had returned to Canada, and had lost Arnold’s address, which was very disappointing to me because I not only enjoyed his company, and hoped to see him again someday, but I also wanted to find out if he was ever successful at uncovering clues as to his brother’s whereabouts. Luckily the spirit runs thicker sometimes than others, and connections intended to be made are never lost. In this case, while I was in Canada, Arnold ran into my father, who was in India at the time, although they had never previously met nor seen pictures of each other. They happened to be in the same area, in a town in a northern Indian valley and Arnold “Just picked him out as a traveling Canadian”- as he wrote to me later- at which point he approached my father, and asked if he, my father, was who Arnold thought he was- and through their serendipitous, implausible meeting, Arnold and I were reconnected.
These types of magical non-coincidences happen, though generally for reasons beyond our ken, but to be sure, the universe is alive, and conscious, and fully aware of every grain of sand in the cosmic ocean of life.
One of those grains of sand also washed up on my barren shore in Delhi that winter, in the form of a beautiful and wise young Canadian woman, who to this day lives close to my heart, and close to the core of the Mother.
I say such things because there is no better way to say them, though I do not in any way lay claim to understanding nor clarity, but when a person stands before me, and I can feel the core of their essence, and later have dreams regarding the nature of their being, then I make statements like I just did, for the only other option is silence, which may arguably be far more lucid and applicable than words, though still I cannot help but imperfectly groan about this miracle of life which is so far beyond me.
Anyway, before heading on to Darjeeling, which was where I had decided to flee when the chaos of Delhi had finally become unliveable, this aspect of the Mother, and I, had a couple of charming days together, sharing words and feelings, and basking in the spirit of Mother India, which culminated, the night before I left, with her and I sitting on the rooftop of the Camron Lodge, and witnessing the most ethereal, and beautiful pink dove go fluttering over our heads and then land on a nearby wire. To the materialist’s mind it was simply a bird, but to the spirit eye it came as the holy ghost. And we received the descent of that heavenly gift, as the deep red sun sank beneath the Indian horizon. And in the morning I was gone.