One such friend just came back to India with a fresh passport, a first time visa. He had overstayed his visa expiry date last time by three and a half years, until the Iskon fellowship hauled him out. Two years later, he is back in Tiru, with a new identity.
'First time to India?' the custom lady asked him, smiling.
'Yeah, first time.' he smiled back.
'What do you do all day in Tiru? What is your spiritual practice?'
'We cross the street, to sit in the tea shop across the road.'
What gives a bum, the supreme confidence to be a bum?
Two stories come to my mind:
1. As told by Shree Ramakrishna :
At the time of Jesus, there were two sisters called Mary and Martha. Jesus Christ went to their house with his devotees. At the sight of him, Mary was ecstatic with Happiness. It reminds me of a song by Gauranga:
And did not come back to me again,
Down went my mind, as well, forgetting how to swim.
Jesus said, 'Your sister is indeed blessed. She has developed the only thing needful in human life: love of God.'
2. Once Ramana was sitting peacefully on the Mountain, minding his own business when an earnest seeker came to him and said,
'You are so ripe, you must take diksha from my Guru. I will come back in the evening and we will go together.'
Ramana was wondering how to escape the diksha, initiation, when another earnest seeker stopped at Ramana's hut for some water. He was climbing up to the peak.
'May I keep my holy books here? I will pick them up on my way back.'
And this was how the Mountain loved Ramana, for in that bundle of books, he opened a book to a page with these lines,
'Anyone residing within thirty kilometers of Arunachala need not do any sadhana whatsoever. No japa, no tapa, no guru, no seva, nothing needs to be done, because the Mountain Does Everything!'
and provided him with self defense against the initiation.
This is the promise, this is the creative license, and this is the secret of the lazy seeker.
It doesn't end here. There is another promise.
'Those who are meant to get enlightened will be drawn to the Mountain. They will not be able to resist the pull of the mountain.'
When I first heard / read this, my pride swelled up, until I looked around at the bums gathered on the tea shops. Someone is a jail bird, another has obviously run away from a nut house, this one is a proud dope addict, and of course, on almost each trip I get hit by a homeless sadhu.
'Are you single?' he asks me, too lazy to think of a better line.
'Happily married.' I smile back, no offense taken.
Years ago, during my first steps on the path, I was hammered by the concept, 'Keep Good Company.' But good company is a narrow lane, I get claustrophobic. I like to take U turns, I like to skip, jump or sit on the road. And the earnest seekers, may God warn me should they hover near. Let the white collared devotees run to the ashrams to make it in time for the one hour meditation.
I prefer to sit with my friends, the chilled out cronies of Shiva.