circa 1985, h.p. india.

circa 1985, h.p. india.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

a small leap of faith.


a lovely, somewhat intimidating lady recently asked if i knew what was the meaning of life. i told her i didn't know, so she said: "then why should i come to you to teach me meditation?" of course, i told her she absolutely shouldn't. i suggested that she should find someone who knew what the meaning of life is.

the problem, in that case, would be having to take the person's word for it, wouldn't it? that's a bit tricky. personally, i would have a hard time with that. i would go so far as to get on an airplane without knowing how the whole thing works. i would have that much faith. i would eat in a decent restaurant without being certain of how the food was prepared. i would be that trusting. but, i still would probably be a wee bit skeptical of someone who claimed to know the meaning of life. i would not jump on that plane. i would not bite into that sandwich.

i have an acquaintance who refuses to get on an airplane at all, and i can't really blame the guy. i was once on a flight from bhuntar in the himalayas down to delhi, with an unscheduled stop along the way, during which i concluded my faith may have been misguided. my lower extremities since then, frankly, tremble at the very thought of flying, although i still do it from time to time. i was once about to dig into a plate of vegetable curry when i spotted, just in time, a lifeless cockroach staring up at me with a shocked expression, as if to say: 'oh crap. i zigged when i shoulda zagged.' obviously, i still eat in restaurants, although not that particular one.

during a nasty monsoon season, many years ago, i was summonsed to canada immediately because of a family emergency. the road washed out around pundoh, a trecherous stretch of gravel at the best of times. the routine, when rock-slides made the road impassable, was to walk over the landslide and take a taxi stuck on the other side. in effect, you would switch cars with people heading the other way.

unfortunately, the driver of the vehicle i ended up with had been driving for days and over-tired. he actually kept nodding off. but, even after almost sending us over the cliff, he would not let me drive and insisted he was fine. he kept wagging his head and repeating his mantra: "if it's god's will." i basically had to sit close beside the guy all night and swat him every time he began to lose consciousness. we reached my hotel in delhi around 3:00 a.m. i grabbed the keys so he would sleep for a few hours saying: "it's god's will."

faith and skepticism are not mutually exclusive qualities. but, in regard to meditation, the fact is it doen't matter. the days of blind faith are done. the days of learning from each other and thinking for ourselves: those days are very much upon us. as well, meditation is not a religion. thankfully, you don't need to know the meaning of life. one needs only enough faith to give it a try, a small leap of faith. the landing is worth the flight.

'skepticism, like chastity, should not be given up too readily.' george santayana (1863-1952).


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