A little Indian story where Sudas meets the Master’s eyes.
He was very angry at having fallen into the trap again, and in front of the Master to boot. Once again he had seen the bourgeois, the well-educated kid, the stereotypical actor.
Back from Italy, he had asked for a meeting with the Master to greet him; and once in front of him he let this slip out of his mouth: “My daughters send their greetings.” Which was bleakly untrue, also because they would never have dreamed of sending greetings to the person responsible for their father’s decamping. If they could, they would have sent quite a different message!
Hard to forget the gaze of the Master. A glance of fire that chilled him.
After that he was given a list of groups to do, the first of which was called Sahaj, or some title like that, meaning ‘spontaneity’. And so here sits the ceremonious bourgeois.
The Master’s eyes: if you happened to meet them you plunged into a depth – sometimes disturbing, sometimes welcoming – but you always felt he was looking at you, only you.
During Guru Purnima, the Festival of the Masters, hundreds of people, many of them Indians, come to the ashram to ‘look at the Master’: devotees parade in front of the guru and one by one stand in front of him with a brief exchange of glances.
The little bourgeois, S., who had been standing in the queue for several hours waiting his turn, was watching Bhagwan looking and being looked at by the devotees. What a sight! Bhagwan was looking at everyone, but really everyone, with a tremendous intensity, in an abysmal, total here and now. And when it was his turn, S. felt an overwhelming desire to huddle up at the Master’s feet, certain that he was alone before him. He was alone, yes, with hundreds of other alonenesses.
It wasn’t the first time he had felt a strong pull towards that strange being. The first time he met him, for example.
The sannyasins were still only a few and darshan (meeting with the Master) was an intimate ceremony. There were at the most about thirty or so orange people waiting, plus some orange musicians, the orange bodyguard… There were also some non-orange newcomers, like S., who was hiding in the back – and to whom a strange thing happened.
The Master entered, or rather, slipped in lightly, and sat down. Those present were all standing, someone was dancing, and suddenly, everyone sat down. Only S. remained standing, and what did he do? He crossed the space between himself and the Master and saw himself kneel down and rest his forehead on the feet of the Master, who smiled at him. Stunned and a little confused, he returned to the back row, wondering what the hell had happened to him. Despite the intensity of that encounter, S. did not give up any time soon and continued to dress in all colours except orange.
The truth was, what troubled him was the strange feeling of being at home. Had he lived in that house, where the darshan was held, before? Prior to leaving for India, he had seen Spielberg’s film ‘Close Encounters…’ and remembered being moved by the sight of orange people on a hill praying or doing something similar. Precognition?
S. was quite inclined to reverie and had often misused it, especially in romantic relationships. This had caused him no small amount of trouble and disappointment. He was often confronted with a reality that did not match the picture he had formed of the person – a reality which then faded under the fantasies S. was capable of concocting. In India he was not in India, but in a film about India. But he was now dealing with a Master of reality, and everything conspired against S. the dreamer.
For example, he once drew a picture for the Master: a large tree rooted on the surface of the Earth. With a certain pride he presented it to Bhagwan during a darshan, and once again he was struck by that look he knew so well, accompanied by a voice that softly said to him, “Forget the big trees, look after the chairs.” That brought him quickly back to earth!
To put a coup de grâce on dreaming were the experiential groups that the Master had suggested, but about that we will open another story.
Translated from Italian by Punya with edits by Madhuri