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Lonely, completely blissful, he was lost in a harmony. The hermit, whose name no one knew, but was lovingly called as Guruji with utmost reverence, was in his usual trance – his eyes were mesmerized staring away into the infiniteness of the blue sky – he was dissolved in an iteration of sky meditation. Very few knew about the real him, but many knew him as a master of spirituality. He had discarded material desires and had renounced his illusionary world. Except for a rosary of beads that embraced his neck (no one knew why he wore that, as he never used them ever), and a little clothing to cover his bare body, the hermit was an ideal prototype of an enlightened sadhu.
No sacred ash, no sacred books, no sacred scriptures, nothing at all that seemed holy was a part of him. He never prayed, never did anything so-called holy, but would get into a transcendental world of meditation once in a while. While some concluded that he was no better than a madman or a hippy, the majority had taken him for a divine soul – a messenger of God transcended onto earth. The hermit solved the predicaments of humanity with utmost simplicity citing day-day living examples. He has achieved mastery in that he could convince any human and always saw that no one turned disappointed after having met him.
Having transformed from within, the hermit had chosen a place far away from the hustle-n-bustle of humanity: it was a mountaintop where only a few farmers lived in huts. He had chosen a place next to a small river that glittered with spotless sanitary water. The periphery of the river was a benediction of nature’s own paradise – thick Mango groves, mulberry bushes, loaded danglers of grapes, multicoloured clusters of tulips and roses and a vast ocean of velvet grass ingrained below them. The thick encapsulation of fauna and flora blended well with the vast envelope of splintered mountains that imprisoned the little world. Thick Bluish-White landscapes extended on either side of the mountains. The melody of tens of sweet singing cuckoos and minas, the soft and soothing fresh air that glided the atmosphere around was heaven’s answer to its own definition. There was a divine effervescence that smoked all over the place; it was a poet’s destination to reach his peak of emotions.
So much so that the hermit indeed was a transformed soul, there was always natures own bewilderment in its own way; strange were the ways of life – while the hermit had renounced the so-called material life of pleasures – he had chosen a place of nature’s own paradise, which in itself loomed a very colourful illusionary world. While his very roots of spiritual thinking wanted him to be away from the material world, nevertheless this nature’s paradise exhibited its own Maya. While on one hand we could never comment whether the hermit chose the place accidentally or intentionally, one thing was very evident – the hermit loved the place. Very few could really ponder over this contradictory nature of Guruji.
Many approached him to get their material resolutions solved, but their Guruji never asked for anything in return. A couple of healthy fruits from the overlooking paradise, a bowl of water from the river and the thick fragnance of the fresh air around, made his living. With so much of austere renouncement of the world, the hermit still longed for some fruits and a bowl of water at the end of day. Though there were these little dependencies, nevertheless, the hermit had crossed the thresholds of humanity and desires and bondage. Though the hermit always felt he was still a victim of maya, for the ordinary – he was God.
Of all the ecstatic things that floated around the hermit’s vicinity, one thing impregnated his being and consciousness deeply – an empty boat, as small as a fist, probably crafted by little children at some godforsaken hour and launched on the fresh waters; the yellow coloured boat which appeared to have been crafted with some card or plastic paper, sailed incessantly on the blue waters, tossing, whirling and playing its own games at the nature’s expense. The boat would glide swiftly along the Western current of the river with great balance and equilibrium and then would hit a boulder whence it couldn’t sail further; it would then take the down stream towards the South, and then further follow the turbulence of the hauling waters towards the East where the river stream flowed further down and steep.
Finally the boat would trace up North and would be struck at the neck of a shallow tree that sprang from the waters. It wouldn’t be possible for the boat to further break the upstream and continue to glide West again – unless a plantain leaf that overshadowed the shallow tree would sway it and gently push it again into the Western current; else the boat would be struck for a while in one of those open wedges of the shallow tree. With a little lift from the plantain leaf, the boat would continue glide back to the Western current to complete the circle; it would go round and round on the periphery of the small river with nature’s own force and will.
A cuckoo that popped from an opening on top of a Mango tree would get thrilled at this God made vehicle and would singsong melodiously whenever it saw the boat glide with great pride and ecstasy. To add to the companionship, a multicoloured butterfly would sit on the edge of the boat and would take a ride at times. It was a chirpy scene of blissful grandiose. The yellow boat, the blue waters, the plantain leaf, the singsong cuckoo and the multicoloured butterfly would make a complete blissful world in them, so harmoniously communicating and floating in natures own glory. An intimate communion had germinated between them and a divine synergy prevailed in their being. The hermit had taken this to be a masterpiece of symphony and harmony that spoke of life and desires in depth.
“Can you please help me revered Guruji. I do not know what’s come over my being; I have this little son and even a small bruise on him kills me. I know as a parent its natural, but this sentiment is too much for me to bear. Please help me” someone would confront in the hermit.
“This is all because of bondage. You come out of it and you can live peacefully”.
“But how Guruji? Please guide me”
“Look at that empty boat,” the hermit would continue. “The boat is blissful without any bondage, yet, is involuntarily dependent on the others like the waters and plantain leaf for it to glide. But the empty boat is blissfully unaware of the whole happening. The boat has divorced any kind of bondage that nature can give it. The same is the case with the plantain leaf. Absolutely unaware of the happenings; it just pushes the boat onto the other side of the stream whenever a little breeze embraces it; it cannot even understand that its giving life to the empty boat to glide and continue to sail. That’s the state to achieve. You must be unaware of your bondage. The moment you are into it, you are lost. Drop the bondage and glide with life. Accept life moment to moment and rejoice the present. Don’t build any bondage, any desire. You are like the cuckoo that sings whenever it gets excited about the gliding boat. You are like that lovely butterfly that is bonded to the boat to take rides. Drop the bondage and you will see enlightenment”
And another day someone else would approach the hermit with another problem: “Guruji I need your blessings. I have lost everyone in my life – my parents, my wife and I have no children. I feel very lonely, I feel very empty. I feel vacuum in me”
“Ah! Dear one, I think this is the time to awaken” the hermit would console. “ It is in this state of loneliness many have got enlightened. The emptiness is a gift of nature; there is amazing power in it. Capitalize on it. Try to meditate in these lonely transients of life; you will reach God like a spike. Infact you are God, its just that you will discover the real you in these emptiness. In fact, nature is so beautifully designed that it’s in the emptiness, the utility is always seen.”
“Can you explain me Guruji?”
“Take the example of this lovely little empty boat,” the hermit pointed at the eternal vehicle and continued. “The real utility of the boat is not because of its body; the utility comes from the empty space that encompasses the body of the boat. Without that emptiness, how can anyone make use of that boat? Take an empty cup – the utility is not because of the porcelain or the body; on the contrary, the utility comes from the empty space that encompasses it. How can one have coffee in that empty cup unless it contained that emptiness? So I tell you dear, go and meditate. Seek the vacuum and accept it gracefully. Fall in love with the silence and the enlightenment shall dawn on its own accord”.
Another day a woman came running to the hermit and exclaimed “Guruji I am broke. We had a flood gushing into our little home that massacred all our personal belongings. I am not able to digest this disappointment. I need your guidance”
“Never mind dear. Everything in this life is transitory. Just like the so-called good times were transitory in your life, so will these so-called bad times be. Everything is just a wave on the ocean of bliss. One wave comes and goes. Another wave comes and goes. What is important is to acknowledge that the wave is transitory, but the ocean is eternal. All waves germinate and culminate into the ocean. The wave is only a temporary form; the real divinity is the ocean. Seek the eternal God in you; discard these transitory things. Look at that empty boat – whenever it’s struck in that wedge of the shallow tree, it never minds. The boat accepts both positive and negative gracefully. It has no sorrow, no suffering because its struck in that wedge. It accepts the state wholeheartedly. And when the plantain leaf gives a lift, it accepts even that gracefully; and glides with the stream. Be like that empty boat. Take life as it comes. Accept the transitory changes gracefully and you will see how transforming life can be”.
And the hermit would go on and on about the empty boat. For him, the empty boat was a divine force of nature, a spiritual monument of wisdom and truth. Anytime anyone approached with any issue, the hermit would involuntarily point at the empty boat and would weave a story around it. He had such perfection in illustrating reality of life with the concept of that empty boat – not a single soul turned dissatisfied having met their Guruji. The empty boat served as a divine omen and the hermit was either in a trance of sky meditation, or would gather wisdom through the empty boat and its companions. The empty boat was a benediction into the life of this hermit and served as a continual beam of celestial energy.
As times changed and seasons rolled, one silent night, the breeze was thick and the rustling sound of the air penetrated the thick fauna and flora. There was a rumbling sound of the hollow air and the trees and plants swayed left and right like a pendulum. The cuckoos were into their nest for the night and the velvet sky was bedecked with the gleam of the full moon smiling blissfully. The empty boat was in its usual trance delightfully lost in the harmony of the waters. Other than the subtle melody of the moving waters and rumbling breeze, the ambience was tranquilized. The hermit had chosen the moment into yet another iteration of sky meditation. He had dropped his mind and his eyes gazed far away into the cosmos; the hermit was in an absolute odyssey of blissful state. As the boat streamed and glided with the usual equilibrium, the breeze rose thicker and thicker. A jet of thick cloud of heavy twister rolled into the area and hit a Palmyra tree; the tree was uprooted and was sucked into the gravity of the twister; there was a ghastly roller-coaster of the tree whirling and somersaulting and finally ended like a mace – landing on the waters; a bark of the tree penetrated the empty boat and tore open its body. A massive bunch of grapes swam in the wild current of the breeze and crashed onto the tattered boat; the boat was no more a boat; the form was lost and the little worn out pieces of card paper hit the shores and sunk into the soil. There was reverberating dynamism in the roaring breeze and the twisters. The storm continued for several hours and then gradually stopped.
The morning Sun peeped between the mountains and the warmth infiltrated into the area where the hermit was still sitting, as he was the previous night. A few people came to see how badly the place was smashed and how badly the glory of the place was murdered. A few searched the boat but in vain; the cuckoo was lying dead on the banks of the river and the butterfly was never to be identified. A few men approached the hermit to ask how he managed to stay through the night.
“Guruji, we are sorry to disturb you from your meditation; but may we ask how you managed this dangerous play of nature. We were worried about you. We couldn’t even come out of our doors, but you have managed so blissfully. Do enlighten us with your amazing power”.
The hermit was stand still; not a single movement; his eyes gazed beyond the sky and beyond the cosmos as usual.
“I think Guruji is in deep mediatation; lets not disturb him. Lets leave him now and talk to him later” a few like-minded individuals agreed and dispersed the place. After a while another gyration of a thick cloud of breeze budded from no where and pierced though the waters and the surrounding area; a cloud of thick force of rumbling air hit the hermit and the hermit fell like a stone. There was not a single movement; neither was there any sign in his consciousness nor in his breathing.
One thing was evident - the soul of the hermit had left the body. What was not clear was the cause – it was hard to justify whether it was his meditation that made him leave his body or the shock of the dead boat. Some days later many even believed that in trying to preach that “bondage” should be renounced, the Guruji himself had developed a great bondage involuntarily with the empty boat. Some even concluded that when the boat was crushed, Guruji died of a mental shock. Reality was difficult to decipher.
Though many believed that the hermit completed the wheel of life and that this was his last birth, a few enlightened souls disagreed on that; they believed that Maya had played the trick even on the hermit, in the most subtle way. They concluded that the empty boat was an object of material attachment to the hermit as long as he lived. Only one thing was certain – both the boat and the hermit had left this material world for once.
Guruji Sanskrit word meaning “Master”.
Sky meditation One of the ancient techniques of meditation practiced by Sufis, in that the mediator witnesses the emptiness of the sky and gets into a trance to drop the body and mind.
Sadhu One who has renounced the world
Maya Illusionary world (the world we live in)
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