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The Silent Prayer In A Train

It was a routine train ride. Berkeley to Fremont, and change from Fremont to Warm Springs. My Dad was going to pick me up, as we head to do our Wednesday family ritual of cooking together for the evening Awakin Circle.

On that second train ride, perhaps about a 10-minute ride, I sit on the train and am focused on finished up some reading on my cell phone.

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a big, African American in an unusual posture. His back mostly straight, his palms were folded together in prayer mode, his index fingers on the tip of his nose. And his eyes closed. My original sub-conscious thought was, "What a sweet posture to rest in."

I ended up sitting in a seat where I could see him. The compartment is mostly empty, and hence quiet. My eyes are on my cell phone, but something about him is serenely arresting. Could he be praying?

5 minutes. 6 minutes, 8 minutes. His eyes are still closed, palms still folded.

Then, all of a sudden, I noticed something that was always there -- a mesh rug-sack that covered his lap. Because of the mesh, I could see what was inside. It was a whole bunch of plastic wrappers and what we might call trash.

Trash? Could it be that he was homeless?

This man, in broad daylight, was so focused on his contemplation that he never once opened his eyes.

Awakin reading for the evening circle was titled, "We Want Relief. Cure is Painful." It reminded me of a quote by Nisargadatt, "Pleasure puts us to sleep. Pain wakes us up." Between pleasure and pain, our life oscillates, until some glitch in the matrix orients our heart to a whole new axis, an axis of awakening.

I started praying with my friend. Really, we just had a couple of minutes before the final stop, but I figured that perhaps I could share my merits with him. Just invisibly lend a hand.

Train arrived. It was the final stop. Everyone had to get off.

By now, the feeling in my heart was clear: "Here is a man in pain. He could reach out for pleasure, but he's actually climbing a vertical axis. May all my strength become his strength."

As I exited the train compartment and crossed his seat, I started tearing up. I intended to go up to him and say, "Brother, could you use a little extra money?" And then offer him everything in my wallet.

But my friend is stays seated in his seat. His eyes are still closed. His palms are still folded. His heart was still doing a higher prayer.

We never said a word, or even looked at each other, but we prayed together. And in that, we became brothers.

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