gatineau morning.

gatineau morning.
photo by douglas mcarthur.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Excerpts from my book: Unprotected Sects.

Silence 2, circa 1985.

In the middle of a busy day in New Delhi, I realized I had lost my shoulder-bag. Having also been in the gold and silver market that day in Chandni-Chowk, the bag not only had thousands of dollars in it, along with about one-hundred thousand rupees, it was full of gems and jewellery and, oh yeah, my passport too. Basically I was screwed, completely irrevocably screwed.

In my mind, there was no doubt I’d left the bag in the last scooter-rickshaw I had been in. But, trying to find it was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack and I knew it. I tried, of course. Eventually, however, close to tears, I retreated to my usual room at the 'Gandhi Guest House', sat down on the bed and put my head in my hands.

Perhaps as a last resort or out of desperation, I just sat still, silent. It wasn't meditation exactly, at least not formally. I was just sitting. And I kept on sitting for quite a while. I didn’t often feel as though meditation was very good on those business trips. Of course I knew one shouldn't label any specific meditation as good or less good, but that one, that one, while just sitting and not meditating, that one took me somewhere kinda special.

I had been to that place before, a place that’s not a place, a place that’s not anything and, gratefully, certainly not where I had been. I was quite conscious, very alert, but I had no problem, no bag was missing, my life as I knew it was not ending because it had not begun. There was a kind of bliss and a kind of freedom.

Then, strangely, from out of that space of un-struck sound, a thought occurred to me. I recalled briefly being at the 'Western Union' office in the 'Imperial Hotel.' My next thought was that I had had my bag after that. Nevertheless, I slid off my bed, with virtually no hope, and shuffled listlessly down the street to the hotel.

As I walked into the 'Western Union' office, there was a large crowd around a bag, my bag, all staring down at it. I immediately realized that they thought it might be a bomb, although in that case you gotta wonder why they were all crowding around it. I also realized the police would descend upon the scene within another few minutes. I wound my way through the crowd, grabbed the bag and quickly left the building.

I was elated, relieved, thanked the creative intelligence, my lucky stars and any deity I could think of for that thought, which came from out of silence.

“Silence and solitude is in the mind. One may be in the thick of the world and maintain serenity of mind. Such a one is in solitude." Ramana Maharshi.

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