Chinmaya remembers events he escaped unharmed from danger, and learned from them what trust means.
A couple of days after my daughter Koyal’s birth in November 2009, I decided to get out for a drive. There was a storm brewing but it didn’t look anything out of the ordinary.
I headed up the coast from our village of Assagao, near Mapusa, past Arambol to Querem. The beach there was bleak and windswept, so back at Arambol I parked up on the edge of the village. The wind was growing, so I didn’t even get out of the car, just turned it around on the packed sand track and decided to roll a cigarette before heading home.
As the tobacco nestled into the paper I watched as if in a dream, a big tree slowly topple across the track a few metres in front of me. In the same moment behind me I glimpsed, as a whirlwind of leaves and debris hurled itself against the windscreen, a grove of coconut palms tilt and hit the ground. A roof flapped off somewhere ahead and a smattering of plastic tarpaulins and corrugated iron sheets collapsed into the road in front of a row of shacks.
It was all over in a minute. A chilling feeling of total unreality hit me as I looked up to see blue sky overhead. All I knew in that moment was that I wanted OUT, back to Naveena and our newborn baby as fast as I could make it. Who knows what had happened elsewhere? Maybe the main road would be blocked? Perhaps there was another freak tornado on its way?
The only way out lay behind me and over the low dunes to the beach. The fallen palms blocked all but one route and I meandered the car through them to find a low concrete wall running right across my escape route. Clearly my only choice was to try driving over it.
The underside of the car scraped over the wall but once on the other side it was plain sailing. I soon hit the firmer sand of the beach and careened back into the village. There was no sign of damage, Arambol’s slow pre-season life seemed to be going on as normal; and it dawned on me that the tornado had only clipped a narrow path on its way out over the ocean.
The biggest shock, even beyond the ‘I could so easily have been killed!’ thoughts that tormented me all the way home, was that I could no longer afford to take risks – that I wasn’t prepared to take risks any more. Life for my partner Naveena and Koyal would be so tough if I suddenly disappeared from Planet Earth.
A couple of months later, on 13th February 2010, it was the same message. The aftermath of the bombing of the German Bakery in Pune saw me racing through empty streets, grey with fog and with a sense of the day after doomsday hanging in the air. I had only one thing on my mind: to drive back home to Naveena and Koyal in Goa as soon as possible. I’d had a few hours fitful sleep and hit the road at 4am, giving the crime scene a wide berth, swerving past barriers and using the wrong side of the closed-off roads. Only once I was out of Pune on the Expressway for the start of the nine-hour drive, did I dare to breathe. Our safe little spiritual nook in India had been thrust into the world of terrorist atrocities. I was terrified of my own desperate need to stay alive for their sakes.
A third experience, three years later, reinforced my anxieties but provided an inkling of the trust in Existence that Osho has shown us to be the only way out. I was up in the low hills above Assagao, perhaps only twenty minutes easy walk away from houses and roads, but far enough that a shout for help would be useless. My wandering took me through the usual mixture of abandoned cashew plantations, recently-planted eucalyptus and wild shrub, with tumbledown walls, thorny pits and rock outcroppings the main obstacles. Hills like this are almost totally unvisited these days as Goans concentrate on making a living from tourists in the valleys and beaches.
On this occasion, my head in the clouds as usual, I stepped onto the foot-high remains of a wall. Something made me look down in that moment and my blood froze as I saw, nestled right beside my foot, a coiled Russell’s viper. Once again a sense of total unreality set in as I watched myself calmly remove my foot and step back a couple of paces as, equally calmly, the snake slithered off into the undergrowth. Seconds later my mind exploded: a Russell’s? The snake with the fastest strike from a coiled position of any snake in India! Its venom deadly unless treatment is received immediately! I would have had no chance of making it down to the village if it had struck!
Such thoughts overwhelmed me as I stumbled back home to Naveena and Koyal, my heart pounding. But the trace of another awareness lay under them. Nothing happened. What could have happened is just a thought process with which I am unnecessarily disturbing myself. In fact, reflecting on the moment of our encounter, I saw how both the snake and I had been utterly relaxed and had known exactly what to do to protect ourselves.
Something much deeper than my everyday mind had in fact acted from what Osho named ‘trust’. It stands in immediate opposition to fear and anxiety as a choice that can be made. Trusting is a choice I have to remind myself again and again to make as I fall repeatedly under the spell of the conditioning around parenthood: the worry of responsibility for another human being; the anxiety around optimally performing the protective and providing role of the husband and father; the fear my death would be an abnegation of responsibility.
Trust as antidote as the stakes get higher.
A quote from Osho
Trust is a mystery
Pune, 13 February 2010 – Chinmaya remembers the bombing of the German Bakery in Pune, India, a popular meeting point of sannyasins, and his Jhuni Benefit Concert that happened at the same time