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18. An Experience in Mexico

The main gate of the Ashram is opened at 4:30 a.m. to the sadhaks and remains open until 11 p.m. Though there is a strongly felt atmosphere of peace around the Samadhi all the time, the Peace is more easily felt early in the morning and late in the night. These are hours when there are only a few sadhaks near the Samadhi. For many years I used to go to the Samadhi at 9 p.m. and remain there till the gates were closed. One night, on coming out of the Ashram at 11 p.m., I found someone waiting for me. He eagerly came towards me and introduced himself as one who had met me three years before. He was a foreigner named Tom. I mistook him to be another foreigner with the same name who had been in the World Neighbours movement and who met me three years before in connection with our development work. Very eagerly, Tom asked me for an appointment the following day. This was at a time when for four years I had stopped receiving visitors for general discussion. I was hesitant to accept the meeting, but soon I found he was hurt by the fact that I had not recognised him. With great enthusiasm he recalled his earlier meetings with me and repeated the details of our conversation. I quickly reversed my hesitation and agreed to see him the next day.

He came the following morning and was very eager to know more about Sri Aurobindo's yoga. He addressed a great many questions to me which the initial enthusiasm releases. I was trying hard to make up for my previous night's lack of recognition of one who was so interested. Tom is an American. He had traveled all over the world in search of spirituality. This was his second tour of the world. Before reaching Pondicherry, he had visited Mysore, Calcutta, the Himalayas, etc. and met various types of spiritual people. He was also interested in ideas that would better the lot of poor people. He said that though he had visited a great many places, the peace at Sri Aurobindo's Samadhi had made a deep impression on him. Since his last visit he had read many of Sri Aurobindo's major books. It seems during his last meeting with me I had told him about several yogic practices and he kept most of them in mind. Though his quest for the spirit took him to several types of gurus, he was trying to practise what he had heard from me about Sri Aurobindo's yoga. Having said that and taking for granted the earlier reference, he went on developing the discussion. As I had forgotten the earlier meeting, I felt embarrassed. I was anxious not to offend him again, especially because he was so friendly and enthusiastic. Fortunately for me he turned to the topics of his own experiences during the tour around the world, one of which I shall report in his own words.

Tom said, "After my visit to Pondy, I left India and during my travels I read a lot of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, which I like and admire. I visited Australia and later South America. While in South America the thought occurred to me that I should start practising Sri Aurobindo's yoga. I was looking for practical clues in his book. Sri Aurobindo's books are wonderful but more philosophical than practical. The practices he suggests are too difficult, even to begin with. But the desire to make a practical beginning of yoga began to take possession of me, even though I was not equipped enough. Later I moved to Mexico, where I hired a Volkswagon to tour the country. This was a van which I drove by myself. It had facilities for writing, cooking, bathing and sleeping, like a house on wheels. One day I had been driving since the morning and by lunch time I was tired. I did not want to cook my meal and for a change I stopped at a motel-a roadside hotel for motorists. After lunch I was reluctant to resume driving, since I had been driving the van for more than two weeks by then. I had some rest and felt somewhat refreshed. Feeling better, I started again, but after an hour of 50 or 60 miles drive I felt bored and stopped by the roadside so that I could relax sitting on the grass. After a little while I had to start again, but in another half hour boredom overtook me and again I stopped for relaxation. I was intermittently stopping every half hour or one hour like that.

When I was driving after one of these rests, casually I turned around and noticed that my shoulder bag, which I usually keep at a certain place, was not there. A chill passed through my spine, as the bag contained my passport and all the money I had. I made light of it, telling myself that I should have placed it on the table behind me and drove on. An uneasy feeling was growing in me and I stopped to make sure the bag was safe. I ransacked the whole van and it was nowhere to be found. I was a foreigner in Mexico and with my passport lost I could be in serious trouble. With all the money lost I did not know what to do. I felt dizzy. I vividly remembered that while in the motel I had the bag and took the money out of it for paying the bill. I had traveled nearly 100 miles from the motel and stopped at four or five places on the way. There was no way of knowing the places where I had stopped. I drove back to the motel and made thorough enquiries, searched at the table where I had sat in the lounge. The bag was nowhere to be found. With utter bewilderment I drove back trying to locate the points where I had taken rest. Stopping at dozens of places which resembled my places of rest, I searched in vain. I started for the car to resume my journey. What journey!  In the next couple of hours the petrol would run out. Where was the next meal to come from?  How to contact home?  I had no dime on me. I was at the end of my wits. Just then I remembered our earlier conversation in which you quoted Mother's words: "If at anytime you arrive at a point that there is nothing more to be done, the situation is hopeless and everything is lost, that is the best moment to call Mother. She answers the call instantaneously. Mother is Universal and She is not confined to Pondicherry." The recollection of these words came to me like lightning and my failing strength returned. I moved to the side of the highway, sat down cross-legged, closed my eyes and began calling Mother fervently. How long I sat I do not know, but I felt a great peace in me. The fear left. Reassured, I walked back and got into the van and sat behind the wheel. Before I could start, something on the roadside, till now hidden by the parked car, caught my attention. It looked like a piece of cloth. Impelled by curiosity at the sight of a cloth near the highway, I alighted to examine it. Going near the cloth, I came upon a bush and in the middle of it lay my bag!  To my utter amazement and intense surprise, when I opened it there were the passport and money intact!  I could not believe myself. Ever since that time, the experience has been fresh in me. I was anxious to tell you this incident."

His was no mere enthusiasm. It was faith. His eyes gleamed with joy.

book | by Dr. Radut