As I grow older, my appreciation for Baba only deepens. The more I learn and let go, the more my understanding of what Baba taught, and the way he taught, continues to expand. When I first followed him, I knew enough to be able to treasure Baba; now that I understand so much more, I can’t thank him enough.
|Appreciate / treasure||Insult|
|Flatter / grovel||Candid / clear and honest|
|Give credit||Bury / suppress|
Appreciating Baba did not mean I was a blind follower. I simply knew that I didn’t know better than he. At least I was clear-sighted enough to understand some of what he had to offer. Baba used to tell the story of the jewel that was appreciated only by the expert jeweler; people who had no understanding just saw a worthless stone.
The ego loves to criticize and keep separate and call that discernment. When we appreciate someone else, the grip of our ego is loosened. But we have to be willing to appreciate someone openly. For many, appreciating someone they don’t know is easier than acknowledging someone close to them; power and the desire to win take precedence over intimacy and Love.
Baba just Loved. Whether he was angry, happy, sad, frustrated, or whatever, he Loved. It was never a question of power or winning, at least not for me. I knew I wanted what he had. I adored Baba and who Baba was. And Baba wanted each of us to have and be who he was. How lucky we are. He willingly gave each of us what he had to offer.
Baba taught every one of us according to our nature. When I started with Baba, my warrior temperament was all too apparent. So, of course, security was going to be my focus. Baba taught me security on all levels. He taught me first how to be secure in the most superficial, worldly sense, and then how to practice security as I pierced deeper and deeper inward.
On the mundane level, I was in charge of security for the Ganeshpuri ashram. As many as thirty men, including Gurkhas, worked on security at any given time. My job was to make sure everything was safe for the ashram to function properly. That meant removing mangy dogs, enforcing ashram dharma, catching thieves of all kinds, and guarding access to Baba. He didn’t need me to do any of these things, but he wanted me to learn what I needed to learn, and being head of security was the perfect venue.
Guarding Baba was the key to learning how to guard the Heart. Whether in the courtyard or by the back stair, my job was to be always one-pointed on Baba. There was to be no distraction, no wandering, no slipping. The place where I truly learned to guard the Heart was the back stair. I would go there after lunch. Baba would come out the back door of his house and sit on the stair; I would stand just a few feet away. We could be silent or conversing. Baba might want someone or something or not. In the interior background, there was a constant, intense pulling inward toward the Heart. So no matter what appeared to be going on, I was in the midst of an education in guarding, in one-pointedness, in focusing on where everything came from. Baba would not let me stray. He would teach me and then expect me to apply this practice away from him as well.
Baba called me Ganesh. Ganesh was the guard at the door for his mother, Parvati. He was constant, vigilant, devoted, and always reflective. Baba was always driving the lesson, always working to get me to stay in the Heart. He was willing to create outside activities to facilitate the practice. He did this for each of us. Whether we were gardening, sewing, cooking, cleaning, teaching, or guarding, for him personally or for the greater community, the practice of guarding the Heart was to inform everything.
What a gift he gave us. I will never be able to repay him. Baba taught me to guard the Heart by having me stand guard and never leave my post. Never leave the Heart. No desertion allowed.
While I was in the ashram, for the most part people did not like me. But I did not go to the ashram to be liked; I went to learn from Baba. That was my mission. It is still my mission, and I still get that some people do not like me. I am not very social, and I am definitely challenging. If, though, someone else is on the same mission, we share at a depth that I greatly appreciate.
When I had malaria for the second time, I did not report to my post at the back door to Baba’s house for a couple of days. I thought my absence didn’t matter. But it did. To Baba, everything mattered and did not matter. He wanted to know where I was and he wanted me there. Someone may think him unkind; after all, I was sick. In fact, he was freeing me from the malaise. This bout of malaria was different from the first, when Baba saved my life and had me quarantined for two months. This was a year later. He sent me medicine and food and then let me know I needed not to fall into weakness. It worked. The bout was not as severe, and I was well within a week.
I appreciated his care for everyone, and how in every situation he knew the right course of action in a heartbeat. Baba discerned the right path for each of us and then guided us on that path.
Though I have given up my warrior life—my stick has been retired—I use all the skills Baba worked to cultivate in me, so as never to leave my post. I am still Ganesh, still Security, and becoming still every day.
There are no words to thank the Guru, no words to thank Baba. I shed tears of joy and of longing for his darshan. Thank you, Baba, for giving me life.
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