Mar 12, 2005

Ouch! A woman threw a pot down in anger, and its side skinned my ankle. I was slightly bleeding and not-so-slightly hurting, but then I decided to stay equanimous. I smiled. After all, it was just before Wednesday meditation began. :)

Couple days back, three ladies working at the "Khakhra Center" saw a larger than life "ghost" in a dark room. Totally scared, one of them urinated. Another one ran out. And none of them could sleep that night.

So we thought we'd meditate there this Wednesday. About 35 folks meditated and most everyone felt really good about their meditation. After sharing some thoughts, we all ate dinner. And then, I had a bold idea.

"Let's go in the forbidden room," I declare. Practically all the ladies who work there during the day, take three steps back after hearing the suggestion."Do you know what that thing was?" I ask them. All of them think it's a ghost, but no one knows anything about it. "Well, then, why assume it's negative? Why not go in there with love, instead of fear?"

I didn't really mean to appeal to their rationality, but something shifted. The woman who had urinated the earlier said she'd go down there with me. That's really all I was hoping for. But she manages to convince three of her friends too!

Very quickly, I ask around to see who else will go down with me. Mark and Sheetal jumped in. And all of us head down into the no-light room, down the stairs.

Right as you enter, you can almost taste the dirt in that room. There was old stuff lying around, that you inevitably will run into. We all get down, the woman next to me -- the one who urinated (sorry, I don't know her name :)) -- is shaking inside out. Holding her hand firmly, I tell her that it's all okay.
"Can we all hold each other's hands and say aum?" I ask innocently. Everyone agrees. In the dark, all six-seven of us hold hands and breathe together. Aummmmm. Aummmmmmm. Auuuuu. And right as we were about to finish the last one, one of the ladies next to Mark drops on the ground.

She faints. Everyone is sacred but no one screams. The woman next to me is shaking more than ever. We bring her up gradually to the main floor.

"Kamlaben, Kamalben," everyone whispers with tears rolling down. They think she might be possessed since she is shaking uncontrollably. She doesn't let any guy come near her, but allows me to hold her hand as I sit near her feet.

A car drops her home. All of us are confused. What this the right thing to do? Is everyone more scared now than before? They tell us not to tell anyone, because they're afraid of the community chit-chat.

It turns out that Kamlaben had a heart condition, and the chanting, combined with the dust and the fear, probably caused her to faint. Others looking on in confusion probably only added to the tension.

The next day, Mark and I went into that room to clean it up thoroughly. It was our excuse to reconnect with all the ladies that worked there. Our plan is to get it painted and in good shape. As we did that, lot of folks looked on to see if we would be okay going in and out of the room. We were. :) In fact, the lady who was most scared of going in the previous night, even came to help us move the junk out of that room. "I am no longer afraid of this room," she casually remarked. Huh? I didn't understand how that happened. But it's all good. :)

About Kamlaben, she is an interesting story. Various people went to visit her and check up on her. She was especially touched when Anarben, a founder of Manav Sadhna, visited her personally. It so happens that while she never complained about her living situation, her family of four living in a small room without any doors! Anarben immediately got doors added to her house and added a few other Anarben touches to it.

I'll keep checking up on Kamlaben, and while I don't know if she's cool with that room, I'm curious to find out.

I once told my friend, James O'dea: "That which doesn't end in love, keeps on repeating itself until it ends in love." Kamlaben was the same woman that nailed me on my ankle. If I wasn't deeply equanimous at that time, I'm quite certain I would've missed this opportunity to resolve past ties.

That which doesn't end in love, keeps on repeating itself until it ends in love.

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