Meeting Hanuman. Meeting Love

“…you don’t want to be a sannyasin, you just want to be happy.”

Little did I know at the time, these words would have an affect on me that only months later I would begin to notice.

But, let’s not jump to end.  As with many stories it’s best to start at the beginning:

I didn’t know what to expect or why I was so excited about the idea of the event—being that I didn’t know who the speaker was or what the topic was about—the only thing I heard was the Krishna Das was suppose to be there (even though his name was not on the event flyer).  And being that many hours of my life have been spent listening to his music I thought it would be worth the attempt to show up,  although I was skeptical of that information.

But the event itself was free, so there was nothing to lose, other than an hour of pay from work being that I had to leave early.

It was a crisp summer evening.  Those summer nights where we cherish the slightest of breezes.  

Going to the event space I was surprised how small and how few people had shown up. Could not have been more than 12. Only two rows of seats in front of a small table whose only occupants were humble flowers and a picture.  At the time I had no idea who the picture was of but I assumed it must have been related to the topic of the event.

A book signing.  A book I had not read or owned (being that but it was new).

I showed up, in part to see if the rumors of Krishna Das showing up were true and to support my former boss (and now close friend).  He manages a small humble spiritual bookstore in the heart of Union SQ.  

He seemed so excited about the event despite it’s small size that whatever it was to be about I was positive that it would be good.

I took my seat right up and center.  Might as well have the best seat.  The were unoccupied anyway.  

After the casual greetings with of those I have recognized from my former job I saw my former manager, eyes a lit like a young child face to face with their childhood hero.  He came into room after a small elderly India man, who although wearing dentures, had the sweetest and softest face I have ever seen.  There was a gentleness to him and a natural humility that is rarely seen in our day and age.

Afterwards (and during the course of the talk) I discovered that he was known as Krishna Kumar Sah. (More affectionately: KK)

After KK. walked in Krishna Das.  So unassuming was he that for a moment I doubted it was him.  For an internationally recognized artist and performer at the grammys, the simplicity to wish him and KK walked into the room filled me with awe.

In spiritual communities humility is a trait that is highly valued, yet, unfortunately, being so highly valued false humility is what too often gets presented.

Like a cheap knockoff of the real thing.
Those gimmick products so often found on shady parts of town.

Taken by Agnisattva day of the event

But here was humility.  A virtue so rare that it fell on me like seeing a one of a kind painting at a museum.  An unfortunate rarity of human existence.

The talk began.  Nothing specific, or planned.  Just two long time friends reminiscing about their Guru. (Only the following day did I realize that they were referring to Neem Karoli Baba. For they spoke of their Guru affectionately as Maharaji).  

Yet, hearing the stories of love, hearing the tales about this being whom I knew nothing about (or who they were even talking about) soften me.

Then something shifted.  Unexpectedly and without the slightest sense of a cause there was another presence in the room.  Hard to tell from where it arose.  Or if it was always there but previously veiled from me.  Yet permeating the room now was this other worldly sense. (Other worldly to me for never before has this been felt).  But a great peace descended on me.  As the presence became more acute the thought arose in my mind: Hanuman.

I don’t know how to explain such a thought.  But there was no doubt.  It was as clear to me as seeing my reflection.  Although my logical and rational side tried to fight this idea, deep down it was clear:  Sri Hanuman was in the room.  

The sheer size of the presence, how to describe?  The only words I can muster:

where was this presence not…?

Much later I learned that devotees of Neem Karoli Baba considered him an avatar (incarnation) of Hanuman.  

The talk was completed and KK opened the line to begin signing his book.  Not having one I quickly got one from my former manager; after such a profound feeling of peace the least I wanted was a memento. 

I waited intently as KK allowed those before me who were getting their books signed ample time to ask questions and to spend just a few more moments with him.  As if at that moment the only thing that mattered in the whole of the universe was that person who was before him. 

As the flow of eternity continued I had my moment to be with KK.  Handing him my new copy of the book he, in the sweetest voice imaginable, opened the book and, pen in hand, asked for my name. 

Slightly hard of hearing it seemed I had to repeat my name several times before he caught it.  What appeared an paper was of course a misspelling of my name where one letter became transformed into another. 

Yet, with such beauty and gentleness was my name misspelled that there was no need or urge to correct.  For what is a name but a collection of sounds superimposed with meaning.     

Receiving my book back I held his frail hands in mine and mustered the only words I could think of:

“Thank you.” 

Although at the time I was not sure what I was thanking, yet as the days passed on I realized that my “thank you” was coming from a deeper place, for the transformation that took place after that event has changed me in ways I never could have imagined at that time. 

 I bowed my head to KK and left the line to allow for the person behind me to have his moment.  At this point there were few people left.  I saw Krishna Das talking with someone and waited beside him hinting that I too wished to greet him.  

Usually for such gatherings I tended, in an attempt to seem spiritual, dress in all orange.  The color of the Swami and the renunciant, a means to remind myself of the practice of inner renunciation and to stay focused amongst the ever change dance of existence.

Seeing me in my spiritual garb Krishna Das began pulling at my shirt adding:

“What is this? What is this? Are you a Sannyasin or something?”

“No,” I responded shyly, “I wear this to remind me of my practice.”

“hmmm…who’s your Guru?”

“Amma, the hugging saint.”

“Ahh, very nice” he added with a nod of approval.  Then after a slight pause he looked at me and said, as if letting me in on a special secret:

“…you don’t want to be a sannyasin, you just want to be happy.”

Taking day of event

I intuitively nodded in agreement.  Although the words themselves were simple, and could easily have been passed off, they buried deep within my consciousness.  Everything that I have ever done in spiritual life, everything I thought I was looking for: Enlightenment, spiritual experiences, the whole nine yards, was just using another language to describe happiness.

What good is spiritual experiences, what good is even finding God if our days remain in misery and pain?  Regardless of the philosophy, regardless of the endless books that tell us that our pain is self inflicted and self created is not always enough to free us from it.

As the great Paramahansa Yogananda has reminded us:

You do not have to struggle to reach God, but you do have to struggle to tear away the self-created veil that hides him from you 

Sometimes this veil is also philosophy and fancy ideas.

Some years ago, I was in Detroit for a retreat with Amma the Hugging saint.  Because of the large crowds it is not always possible to be able to ask Amma a direct question.  But this year, by her grace, I was chosen via a lottery system (among ten others) to be able to address the Divine Mother directly.

A mere intellectual understanding of philosophy is not enough…for the journey to be made is going from the head to the heart. ~Part of an answer given to me by Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi  

 How I spent years avoiding this teaching.  Although I asked for the teachings, I asked to be able to see God, I only wanted to hear the answers that would allow me to stay where I have always been.  I would have preferred to have all the intellectual answers, would have preferred to have moved to the mountains and sit in a cave for the rest of my life.  Yet, that was just an urge, disguised as spirituality, to avoid looking at my own stuff.

“…you don’t want to be a sannyasin, you just want to be happy.”




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