Springingtiger's Blog

Three Monks
June 28, 2013, 23:33
Filed under: Travel | Tags: , , , , , ,


Several years ago, in summer, in Glasgow, I was walking towards the Mitchell Library in the early morning sunshine counting my beads. As I crossed Sauchiehall Street I met, coming in the opposite direction, counting his beads, a monk in the red and yellow robes of a Tibetan Buddhist. We smiled and nodded in a fleeting moment of silent connection. The mutual acknowledgement of a fellow traveller, perhaps on different paths, but scaling the same sacred mountain.

When Neelam and I visited Rajasthan we went to Ajmer. The crowds were thick around the shrine of Moinuddin Chishti and for several streets beyond. We were jostled and pestered by beggars, it was horribly crowded. It was crowded except for a semi-circle about  thirty feet around an Aghora baba, no one pestered him. As I looked across at him, he smiled at me and nodded. I don’t know whether he recognised a fellow Saivite, or what his nod communicated, but I do know that the crowd seemed to fall away, and peace was restored.
Last year Neelam and I were fortunate to visit Ephesus in Turkey. Our tour took us to visit the last home of the Holy Virgin Mary,   on which a shrine has been built. I have no empirical evidence that proves this was her home, but as I knelt before the altar I felt such love that I could not prevent my tears from flowing, so there I was weeping while grinning from ear to ear, deeply moved. As we walked down the hill from the shrine, to fill our bottles from the well, we passed a friar. Neelam asked, “Is he a Franciscan?” I replied, “Yes, why?” “Because her nodded to you” she answered. I should explain, perhaps, that S. Francis of Assisi has been of great personal significance to me since I was a teenager, but how the brother would have known or why it would have influenced his behavior, I cannot imagine (in matters of religion imagination is a bad thing and too often feeds superstition). My wife must have thought there was a link or she would not have mentioned it, perhaps there was; I have learned that not all my knowledge can explain this world.

Three strange coincidences that of themselves mean as much or as little as I choose, but I have stored these things and ponder them in my heart. Devotion is a strange thing, both meaningless and meaningful, a barrier to progress and the force that drives it. However good a scientific explanation of any spiritual phenomenon, it’s effect on the reasoning and personality of the experiencer is beyond logic and yet should not defy logic. And of my three monks what can I say? Three lives that touched mine and caused me to reflect upon my way, and that is enough.


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