Recalling some of the magic moments during discourse and darshan in Chuang Tzu Auditorium. Commentary by Prem Maneesha.
Almost any evening in darshan, if one sits very still and listens very carefully, one may catch the sound of a slight rustling movement, then a pause, followed by a soft and stealthy footfall.
If you are quick enough you might see the back and the long thin tail of what appears to be the grey and furry form of a rat. He is in fact so large that he seems more like a small puppy, and has features quite unlike that of a rat. His face is rounded, soft, and his eyes not keen and bright, but almost sad. He sits sometimes for a minute or two on the very edge of the darshan porch, looking in Bhagwan’s direction. If you should catch his eye, he will look at you a trifle guiltily, turn slowly, and shuffle apologetically away.
One cannot help but feel that he is drawn to the aura of total love and acceptance that Bhagwan exudes wherever he walks. And one feels a kind of rapport with him, for often Bhagwan’s beauty and the grace of his presence is so incredibly overwhelming that it seems almost offensive to gaze upon him. One feels one ought, like the rat, to drink one’s fill for just a moment and then slip quietly away….
Around Bhagwan everything seems to fall into harmony. The rain that seemed determined to soak you through and through, now falls in liquid caresses. Wind that seemed intent on blowing dust into your eyes and mouth and hair, becomes a breeze that murmurs love songs. Suddenly one becomes aware of that glorious rich smell of earth, and the spring of the grass beneath one’s feet. Greens seem to vibrate, yellows to shimmer, blues to sigh and reds to dance.
Sometime ago in darshan (see ‘Hammer On The Rock’), Bhagwan used the movement of a falling leaf as a simile, to describe the way the dancer Nijinsky used to descend from his phenomenal leaps. The moment he finished the sentence, a leaf quietly rustled its way down a nearby tree as gracefully as any Nijinsky.
Just a month or so ago in the morning discourse, Bhagwan was saying that life is a festival, an overflow of energy and delight. As he spoke, a nearby tree began to quiver and shimmer with movement, then suddenly shed in glorious profusion an avalanche of autumnal leaves, creating such a noise that Bhagwan paused in mid-sentence to motion towards the tree in illustration of what he had just been saying.
For the past year or so in the discourse, we have been witness to the wooing and lovemaking of two sparrows who have built a nest almost directly above the dais on which Bhagwan speaks. We have shared with the birds in the trials and tribulations of nest-building, of married life and parental frustrations – in fact the whole drama of life has been enacted before us. Thinking their domestic differences were creating a disturbance for Bhagwan, sannyasins moved the nest to a remote corner of the auditorium, only to discover in the following days that as conscientiously as they removed the nest, the birds just as conscientiously replaced it to their original shelter near Bhagwan. Occasionally one of the sparrows will alight nonchalantly on the microphone, quite unperturbed by the proximity of Bhagwan.
On another occasion a huge crow, apparently wounded, swept dramatically into the auditorium, careered drunkenly, and fell, literally, at the feet of Bhagwan. He was a very large and very black bird. The incident was not a little unnerving and drew some audible gasps from those seated near Bhagwan.
Bhagwan, with scarcely a pause in his words, raised his arm in a gesture of reassurance to those listening to him, and continued…. The bird rested for some time at Bhagwan’s feet, then slowly heaved himself up and clumsily took off into the skies again.
Months prior to this, a small bird was found dead near the balcony adjoining Bhagwan’s room, as if it had sought reassurance and solace in the comfort of Bhagwan’s presence.
Bhagwan says that we are all interconnected – man, woman, tree, rock, sun, air; interconnected and interdependent. He says that trees and rocks and flowers are alive and pulsating with feeling, just like us; are, like us, just different manifestations of God. If that once seemed a rather quaint and fanciful idea, it has become a reality through not only Bhagwan’s verbal interpretation, but through his very being. It is not just that he loves and delights in the garden – in the trees and the flowers and the birds that surround him – but they seem as deeply happy in his existence as he in theirs.
Commentary by Prem Maneesha; excerpt from Be Realistic: Plan for a Miracle, Ch 15
Note: From December 10, 1975 until April 10, 1977, discourses and darshans were held in Chuang Tzu Auditorium. From April 11, 1977 onwards, discourses commenced in Buddha Hall.
Big Black Birds – Madhuri remembers some special discourses….