Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Of All the People I've Never Met

Of all the people I've never met, Neem Karoli Baba, Maharaj-ji, has exerted the greatest influence over my practice over the last few years.  September 11th is the 40th anniversary of Maharaj-ji's mahasamadhi, the conscious exiting of the body.
Image from http://www.kalimandir.org/shop/index.php?app=ecom&ns=prodshow&ref=PH56

Maharaj-ji never taught, yet he was a great teacher. He did not leave a volume of work, he did not say "do asana," "meditate,"or "go to a cave." He just was.  He fed those that came to him. He offered his endless love.

Without Maharaj-ji, Richard Alpert would just be a stoned out-of-work ex-Harvard professor instead of Ram Dass. Jeff Kagel would still be singing in Blue Oyster Cult, or maybe still driving a bus in New Paltz instead of singing the Name as Krishna Das.

Without Krishna Das, I would not have the mantra which begins and ends my day.  I would not have been inspired to learn the Hanuman Chalisa, nor been inspired to read The Ramayana.  I may not practice asana everyday as I once did, but I do not miss a day of reciting the Chalisa.

Maharaj-ji is said to have been an incarnation of Hanuman, the ideal devotee of Lord Rama, the physical embodiment of  love and devotion.  Like the Buddhist Bodhisattva, one who has attained enlightenment but refuses to accept it until all being have also attained it, Hanuman chooses to stay separate from Rama in order to serve.

Krishna Das recounts that Maharaj-ji would hold up one finger.  "All One." Feed everyone. Love everyone. There is no "you" and "them," no "this" or "that."  It is all One.

Maharaj-ji had a way of knowing exactly what his devotees needed in order to progress on their path, pushing buttons to help overcome anger.  Disappearing to help break the cycle of attachment. Yet his Grace kept his devotees from going too far over the edge. That Grace was always there, the devotees only needed to see it.

Somehow I am blessed to have been influenced by this man who died a year before I was born.  Entirely too many coincidences have turned me in his direction. Every time I want to turn away, want to take up jogging instead of kritan, want to drive with the top down with at least a pint of ether in the trunk, something happens that smacks me upside the head like the knowledge I should have had a V 8. And that something keeps me going.

And that something is Maharaj-ji.

Even with my limited understanding of his life, I must echoing Lord Rama in saying I can never repay what I owe that monkey.

Jai Ram!

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