After a mystical experience at the Ashram of ‘The Monk’, its after-effects were still lingering on. The train of my thoughts mostly had him seated on every chair inside the train. That radiant face of his, the mystical smile and then, his eyes, which were stuck on me till the last step I took to exit his meeting room. Those eyes had a sparkle, a warm light of compassion, and that calm assurance. I had not met any strange person so far in my life, who did not have ‘what is in it for me’ or ‘what does he want from me’ look in the eyes.
I started developing a concoction of emotions for him. It had love, respect, veneration, and admiration all rolled into one. And then, there was this freedom; the carefree (not careless) abandon in my heart. The existential questions and problems of my life were no longer the primary occupants of my headspace. I felt like a child hopping and skipping on one leg and another, simply enjoying a good feeling in his heart. Not only was I feeling ‘unreasonably happy’ but I noticed a change in my breathing rhythm also. This must be the work of this mystic, I figured.
‘The Orange Hara Express’ was well and truly on its way. A part of me wanted to solve this mystery. Perhaps, my intellectual dissection was ruining the taste of this dish. I must relish it while it lasted and had its meaning unfold with time. Much like the white cotton clouds outside that were forever taking shape, as per my imagination.
I could not contain this joy anymore. I wanted to share this treasure with my loved ones and friends, now. I wanted them to feel the way, I felt.
To be shared is the inherent nature of joy. It gains strength and confirmation when shared with others. This joy is a very jovial child and it wants the whole town to know about it and amplify, even perpetuate its existence. It makes the individual even overstate about it.
But alas! I was met with muted response. Those who were close to me shared my enthusiasm initially. Some felt I was a nut case by following and believing in Babas and Godmen. Some of my friends forbid me to start any discussion on spirituality but were happy to leave me on my own and discover for myself. Spirituality was just another wrapper for religious propaganda, in their opinion.
Suddenly, the Orange Hara express seats were filled with sullen faces, pretentious and scheming talks, loud and drunk jokes; often ridiculing someone for their appearances, outdated gadgets, and local brands. My beautiful train was filled with graffiti of impressions, full of vulgarity, envy, and vanity.
But it was not like before when I did not recognize the undercurrent. Now, slowly I could see everything. Layer by layer, the reality was emerging. My ‘Orange Hara Express’ had slowed down its pace. I was more aware than before. Earlier the same co-passengers did not matter, but now I was anguished at their presence. I had traveled with them so far together. Was it all for a nought? These were the very people who completed my life, at least this is what I had assumed.
Why was I hurt if others did not share the same joy? Was I forcing my opinions on them? But I wanted to give them the wings that I was flying with. I wanted them to fly with me. We had always played together; we had laughed and eaten together. Why could we not feel like birds now? We all had the potential. I meant well. I had always meant well.
I must withdraw myself, I mused. The orange hara express must, however, keep going. It still had to make many silent trips into town. In the rising heat of sunny summer days, I had to keep the air conditioning on. But it would not change the temperature of air conditioning to suit one over another; it would run at a comfortable temperature for all. It would play the music but of a common taste.
The Orange Hara Express, however, was not whistling on its own. It was not sad but curious, why nobody wanted to come aboard. The Hara was slowly changing its shade, from bright orange of a morning sun into a yolk of an afternoon sun. It had to do its own duty; it must discover what was happening to it.
But I was my train. My thoughts, my emotions, my mind is Me. Once I knew what was happening to me, I could know what was happening to it. Only when I could go face to face with my own emotions, would I truly understand how others felt. I had to cleanse the graffiti of opinions from the walls of my train. I had to restore its beauty.
The Monk had given me a gift, but it was up to me now. I had to put my own efforts now. I discovered many other books that this Monk had written. I picked up each one of them and more from other sources now. The Orange Hara Express had settled into a comfortable and economic speed, letting me read these books one by one. The Monk had written books with a lot of useful practical tips. There was an execution plan, a step by step guide. I read and practiced simultaneously.
There was an urge now to become like the Monk. Suddenly, I wanted to do everything like he did. His speech, mannerisms, walk, smile, laughter, and above all a virtuous life. And bit by bit, it felt home.
The Orange Hara Express now serves only vegetarian food with almost no items that cause pungency. There are no alcohol or acidic beverages served inside. The mood inside the train is cheerful and friendly. The seats are slowly getting filled. Some friendly faces are back. The Monk is also visible on the vacant seats once again. These vacant seats are the empty moments of my life.
His image is like an earthen pot of butter hanging on top of my head. All that I do is to lift my fingers and dig into it like young Krishna. This Pot fills on its own again. No matter who eats from this pot, it fills again. I do not mind if others eat from it. People see me enjoying this butter from afar; they too want to partake, now on their own. Not everybody likes the taste of the butter. It is okay. They are welcome, nonetheless, into ‘The Orange Hara Express’. Fresh, delicious, and hand whisked butter is available.
Talking about butter, my wife just came and said, “Honey, I am going out to market for two hours. Do you need anything?”
I said, “No, that is enough for me!”.
When your imaginary pot of butter is always full. You do not have much appetite for anything else.
P.S. I am extremely grateful to my wife for becoming my Mulla Nasiruddin.