by cheri block sabraw
Our lives away from our work are quiet here at the Rancho. We like it that way.
Few people and few distractions to spoil a lovely passing thought.
An old fence, put up in the 1940’s by the previous owner, surrounds our property to keep out mountain lions, coyotes, and wild boar.
No religious solicitors or shoe polish salesmen, selling their brand of Jesus, guaranteed to save your soul and your sole.
A perfect place to meditate on the meaning of life and its daily challenges.
Several years ago, Life provided us with the perfect meditative scenario.
Judge Blah was studying a tome entitled The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo for a class he was taking in New Mexico the next weekend. He was behind in his reading and concerned about being unprepared for a Socratic seminar. Up until his reading of that book, he had no knowledge of the Hindu texts or of Hinduism.
Cheri, did you know that Hinduism, per se, is not a religion?
No, I didn’t know that.
The next day, at Borders, I bought Hinduism for Dummies.
Judge Blah had also been to Borders on the way home from court. In his strong hands were The Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita from several different translators, and some smaller texts on Aurobindo.
I need backround information, he said.
Why don’t you read Hinduism for Dummies just to get your bearings, I suggested.
My God, Cheri, that’s a sacrilege, he answered.
OK. What do I know? I asked rhetorically.
A lot, I answered smugly to myself, a Walter Mitty-ish habit I have perfected while living with a judge.
Not much, he judged. At least about Hinduism. And in this final statement, he was right.
We go to bed early on Sunday nights because we work hard all week and need the rest.
The lights had been out for an hour. The croak of male frogs, hoping for a one-night stand in the watering trough, echoed down from the park district property.
The moon was bright and full through our blinds. Male crickets rubbed their wings together in a pleasant friction that would continue deep into the dark.
We were One connected (in sleep at least) to the Divine Source.
The phone rang in a short set of bursts and scared the Hell out of me.
Someone was at our gate buzzing us.
Who could that be? I asked.
Hello, stated Judge Blah. Who are you?
We are three, came a soft voice in a thick Indian accent.
Arjuna, Krishna, and Sanjaya, I thought, having turned off my light after reading a summary in Hinduism for Dummies about the Bhagavad Gita.
An old man, a young man, and a boy. We are lost, came the voice, which Judge Blah now had on speaker phone.
We descended the mountain and must have taken the wrong trail. Where are we? The voice continued questioning.
My mind now was fully back in my bed, away from the Divine Source, away from that place free from fear and earthly limitations.
Tell them we will call the police for them, I suggested to Judge Blah who was sitting up in bed now. You are not going up to the gate at this time of night. What if those men are up to no good? What if they mug you and then come down here and get me?
I’ll be right up. Judge Blah put on his jeans and got into his chariot. Full of courage and Truth, he drove it up to the gate. The only item missing was his quiver of arrows.
There were indeed three Indian people—a boy about ten years of age with big brown eyes and worried look, a man in his 40’s with a back-pack, wearing a Sun Microsystems jacket and carrying a canteen, and a very old man with a long white beard and a walking stick.
It was a scene right out of The Life Divine.
Except it wasn’t.
Judge Blah called me from the gate. Cheri, I am taking these men to their car down at the college. They are lost, indeed, but not really, he said. And that was that. It is as it is.
Several weeks later we received a book in the mail entitled Irreverent Spiritual Questions, A Young Skeptic Confronts a Vedantic Master. Akilesh Ayyar in dialogue with Swami Bodhananda.
In it, Swami Bodhananda, the wise old man with the walking stick, in town for a speaking engagement, had inscribed the following to Judge Blah:
In the darkness
I saw the light of humanity.
21 July 2005