The Airplane Game


When Madhuri quit the game…

After the Ranch, Subuddha and I lived in a communal house in Laguna Beach, California. Subuddha always wanted to get as rich as possible as quickly as possible; and was willing to work very, very hard for this. But his choices were sometimes strange! We all tried to talk him out of buying from a concrete-driveway client of his an entire library of out-of-date legal books which he thought he could sell for a nice profit; we said the books would just end up stacked to the garage ceiling for months. Subuddha, however, was deaf to influence in all things; and so the books, unsellable, piled and remained exactly as prophesied. Later there was the famous Exploding Beer Caper (later in Poona he decided to make and sell beer. He lived in one of the big houses in Koregaon Park, where he aged many bottles of the beer under the stairs. Need I say more?)

Madhuri and Subuddha

For the first nine months of our Laguna life we all put our earnings in a pot and they were shared communistically. It took me that long to realize that since Subuddha and I made far more money than anybody else it would be nice to keep it and just pay rent! We argued our case and at that point the whole house decided to go Capitalist, so it was okay. He did concrete work; and I did readings, cleaning, and strip-o-grams (often all three of these in the course of a day and evening.)

As soon as I could keep my earnings my bank account swelled, and I was happily aiming towards an India trip. This was enough for me – getting-rich-quick ideas reminded me too much of my brothers’ ever-doomed but always joyfully optimistic schemes to outwit the casinos in Vegas with their superior brains.

One day Subuddha came home very excited about a sure-fire way to make tons of money. There was, he explained, a pyramid deal called the Airplane Game, where the earlier you got a ‘seat’ the better: you could exploit more people under you, and eventually become a (very wealthy) ‘pilot’. He wanted to enlist me in this dodgy enterprise, and I resisted and resisted – my tummy told me right away that this was not for me!

But Subuddha was my Great Love, which just means I was ga-ga nuts about him, and so finally, just to have some time with him, since he was always fleeing my emotional incursions, I agreed to accompany him to a meeting at a big house in Los Angeles.

There a toothy hoppy shiny guy told us how rich we were going to be if only we could convince enough people to buy ‘seats’ from us. Subuddha, being a Brit, wasn’t used to that sort of character and believed everything he heard! I knew this was just another California smiley-ass con. But to keep the peace and his attention, I then tried hard to convince a few people they ought to join.

I chose people I didn’t really like, whose friendships I wouldn’t mind losing. There was a red-haired prissy stripper I knew from work, where she undressed rather in the manner of a prim housewife folding (or unfolding) towels. I phoned her up and badgered her, just to do my best; until she became very cross and told me she was not interested.

And then suddenly, three days later, everything changed inside me. I hit a sort of wall; I could not do this anymore; could not go out and could not badger poor innocent people! I immediately gave both my ‘seats’ to Subuddha, went into my room, closed the door, and did Kundalini meditation. My god, how good it felt to go in after all that grasping and grabbing and pushing outwards! As soon as Kundalini was finished I rewound the tape and did it again. Then I lay down on my futon on the floor and picked up a book by Ram Dass, where he mentioned something about not being the body. Then I put the book aside, lay back, and fell asleep as twilight deepened.

Sometime in the dark wee hours a very odd thing happened. The mattress under me sat up! I had to sit up with it! I was terrified by this, and I leant and leant back against it, using elbows and hands to try to make it lie down again. Finally it did. But then it suddenly began to tremble and flop. Then something came and got me and pulled me up off the mattress, so that I was floating in the air, up under the ceiling. I looked back down and in the deep darkness could just see the pale skin of my face and arms down there. Then I looked up, there was a twitch, and I passed through the roof and was outside in the foggy silent air… all around me the suburban neighborhood lay still in sleep… nothing moved at all.

I hovered there, scared out of my wits – until I had a thought about my body. And instantly I re-entered it; and then lay amazed and exalted, scared and triumphant, all at once. Because in those few minutes, my life changed forever; now I really knew that I was not my body; that I was free.

Next morning too I felt just… different. And, I reflected, I had quit the game, and I was the one who got to take to the air and be a pilot!

MadhuriMadhuri is a regular contributor

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