I have had two Indian teachers in my life. Both were extraordinary men. And both very different men. Yet, bound by depth. My second teacher was the teacher of yoga to my first teacher. The first was Indian and American. Such a man could only be fashioned by deep roots and wide travels.
The first one taught me many profound things. By his presence and his example. Once, he asked me a question that was very deliberate. He asked:
“What would you say to Lincoln?”
He didn’t mean small talk. Obviously, Lincoln is dead, so he wasn’t speaking literally. That question taught me something though. When you meditate on a great being you are introduced to the realms that they made progress in. One becomes intimate with the challenges they looked into by looking closely at how they looked at the world.
He had asked the same question once of himself of Prime Minister Nehru. “What would I say to him?” Nehru was India’s Lincoln – on his watch this happened:
“The Bloody Legacy of the British Raj.
By 1948, as the great migration drew to a close, more than fifteen million people had been uprooted, and between one and two million were dead. The comparison with the death camps is not so far-fetched as it may seem.”
He was handed a horrible set of cards. The British left in less than a month and the nascent country dealt with all hell breaking loose. Nehru did his best to stop the bleeding.
My teacher had a meeting with Nehru. He canceled it. The secretary asked why. He said he had nothing to say. Then, he booked a second meeting. He found his voice. Nehru sent him to Moscow and New York and Washington in the 50s to see what India might learn about the application of industrial society.
For most of history money has traveled West to East. Usually to China. Now, China is the factory of the world and has incredible commercial reach all over the world. But industrial society – is it going to embrace the needs of the human being or make him a slave of technology without enough wisdom? Those were the concerns that drove Tara Singh that day he met Nehru. He had found his voice. He had something to say and it resonated and there was a positive confluence.
What would you say to Lincoln or to Einstein?
What my teacher meant was: it’s easy to talk from the viewpoint of regurgitated understanding about complex issues, 2nd hand knowledge, but that is no guarantee of originality. Original voices come from authentic states in man. That’s what his question was pointing to.
And, my 2nd teacher, (in my opinion) he was the best yoga therapist on the planet – of his generation. He could walk into a room and see instantly the 80% of people (or more) that had mild scoliosis (to a yogi‘s eye). Trained eyes see things differently.
I recall thinking once, knowing how he knew the yoga sutras, how very few could understand certain things the way he could, the sense came to me that that is a certain kind of loneliness; that very few could penetrate, because few could operate at the frontiers of where his mind inhabited.
He had a phrase: ‘the yoga of yoga.’ The nature of nature. The evolution of evolution – to meditate on these attentions can be immensely enriching, with the right attitude and aptitude.
His loneliness was because few could see nuances as he did, and it was not the loneliness of an unhappy being. His life was very rich. But his was a rarefied mind. It saw into deep things that others missed, and so part of his experience was like ships passing in the night to others. His psychological state and psychic and intuitive faculties were exceptionally developed.
That’s how you ask that question –
“What would you say to,…?”
You look into what spark of life lit their lamp, you look to see what the frontiers of their life gifted. You go looking for that element in such a being, and, when it resonates, that inquiry, it can be enlightening on many levels.
The first teacher gave me a challenge. He asked me to make money. But he didn’t want the money and I wasn’t especially motivated by it.
Yet, it was he who gave the challenge. That is no small distinction if you have a sense of what drew our minds to meet.
I told him: “Money is all about ambition and ambition leads to ruthlessness and war.” He replied: “There is ambition and there is Ambition.”
1. The ocean never thinks it’s too big. It’s too busy being authentically itself. That suffices. It starts with a mountain stream.
2. He asked one of his other teachers once (Jiddu Krishnamurti): Does life take care?
Krishnamurti responded: “Yes, when you completely let go.”
3. The Bhagavad Gita says: ‘attachment, to the fruit of ones labors, blinds.’ Creative output, hooked up to the engine of what drives evolution of character, it is key.
Those are hints to the sentiments behind the grandeur that I associate with his capitalized “A.”
© Copyright 2021 Nathan Curry