Years ago, on a cloud shrouded night in Mount Abu,India, I was walking down the dirt path back toward town when I was met by an old Indian man walking the opposite direction.
Since I never understood his name, here I shall name him Hanuman. Hanuman wore nothing but his mala beads and a soiled loin cloth, his feet had never in his long years know shoes, and was carrying a rusted metal gas can.
He smiled and saluted in namaste and motioned for me to follow him.
The fool I am, I followed him.
Until, we came to the mouth a cave.
I stopped following him. The entrance was barely three feet wide and I could not see into it’s ill-boding darkness. Here is where the line between fool and foolish might be drawn with Crayola Red crayon. Yet, as he avidly waved me in, my Self reasoned with myself that this is the exact reason I came thousands of miles to a land I knew nothing about to experience exactly what I had not experienced before. This old man and his black cave.
Inside, the small coal fire only intensified the blackness surrounding it. I could hear the deep tuberculosis hacking of a small child somewhere in there, and the presence of another adult male just out of reach.
No one volunteered English and i unfortunately do not yet speak Hindi. So we watched each other in a heavy silence of curiosity. Hanuman poured lake water from the rusted metal gas can into a little earthen pot and in a moment humbly handed me my tea. He could not afford the spices for chai. it was some kind of tea leaf in soupy water. Here’s were we pole vault over the Crayola Red crayon foolish line. I drank the tea.
I saw the honor in his eyes and palpably felt the gratitude pour from his heart.
I was self proud. In my silly little mind i was giving this little feeble man a treat by my presence in casa de’ cave. His eyes dancing in the flickering light, he waited patiently across the fire until I finished my cup. Then he reached behind me and handed me a journal.
Every page of Hanumans book was filled by hand written acclimations from visitors from all over the world. Greetings from Hong Kong to Hawaii, from Baton Rouge to Berlin, every page a person that had come to Hanuman in his cave. I felt simultaneously foolish and honored; Foolish to think of myself more knowledgable, better traveled or better off than this man in any way, Honored that I was now part of the conscious human stream that have flowed through this sacred dwelling.
In these 15 years, this non-consequential penniless old indian man in a cave somewhere has never left my heart. He changed my life. In the darkness of his cave he showed me his light.
In the Ramayana, the Monkey-God Hanuman was the embodiment of love. His intense devotion allowed him to make an impossible leap of faith.
My Hanuman, without ever leaving his cave space, experienced the love of the entire world.
In devotion he simply goes everyday to get the water, make the tea and welcome each person in.
Isn’t that our lesson in life?
Every day through spiritual union I fetch the water, with conscious actions make the tea and humbly invite the entire universe to cross into my deepest dwelling place.