We may not be aware of it but every encounter with another being, effects us in some way or the other.
This is why the ancients stressed upon the company we keep. Good, noble and loving people enrich us and some not so good people tend to impoverish us.
With good fortune, it was on Guru Poornima (full moon) at the ashram of Baba Ishwar Singh in Dehradun (India) that my wife Mohini and I met a spiritual man, Kulwinder Singh who makes a living by driving a taxi in NewYork city.
Truly spiritual individuals are egoless people, often witty, deep in character and exude peace and joy. A spiritual person can impart positive energy to us if we are receptive. Their presence always leads to an awakening, like the petals of the bud blooming into a flower.
The nature of Kulwinder's work brought him into contact with many people. Passengers drifted into his life for a few minutes to a couple of hours.
He shared this as one of many experiences, on how his life had been transformed by the teachings of the Guru.
One day a lady got into Kulwinder's cab. She was quarrelling with someone at the other end of her cellular phone. She was in a terrible mood and and snapped an address at Kulwinder . Soon after they started they got caught in a traffic jam. The woman turned her wrath on Kulwinder, she was very unpleasant, and disrespectful. She vented all her anger on Kulwinder, blaming him for deliberately delaying her by moving so slowly through the heavy traffic. She then resumed her quarrel with the unfortunate person on the phone. This was repeated several times during the long drive. Kulwinder remained unaffected by the woman's disgraceful behaviour.
About 10 minutes before they reached their destination the woman hung up her phone. Brooding for a while before holding her sullen face in her hands, she began to cry.
When they arrived Kulwinder said “ Miss we are here” . The woman just sat unmoving in her seat. Kulwinder reminded her a couple of times that they had arrived at their destination.
She looked up and started crying again and said “ I am sorry, I abused you, I know my behaviour was unacceptable. You may not know it but I am not a bad person, and normally do not behave in this way. Its just ....... . However I am very curious as to, why did you not react and say something back?”
Kulwinder replied “ Miss, I do not know what your problem is and why you behaved in the way you did. I cannot change you or your circumstances but I can definitely manage my response. If you permit me I can tell you what I believe in and maybe you will understand why I did not react”
The woman still sniffing requested Kulwinder to say more.
“Let me first tell you a story about Mahatma Buddha” Kulwinder said;
One day as he approached a village, Mahatma Buddha met an aggressive man who was in a foul mood. He started abusing Lord Buddha, who merely stood there listening to the man for quite a while as the insolent man went on and on with his acidic tirade. At last, exhausted and emptied of his toxic anger the man sat down.
Mahatma Buddha politely asked " If you have finished, may I proceed on my journey?"
The foul mouthed man looked at the Mahatma in astonishment and said; “ I have been so bitter in my behaviour towards you and abusive in my conduct, yet you just looked at me smilingly. Are you deaf, a coward or mad? “
Mahatma Buddha said “ I have just come from the neighbouring village. As I was departing from that village, a kind man presented me a tray of wonderful sweets. I accepted the tray, and shared the sweets with other residents of the village and everyone was happy. Unfortunately my brother, you gave me something which I cannot share with anyone else, therefore I cannot accept what you have showered on me. You must take what you have brought here for me, back with you.”
Kulwinder told the woman “ Had I accepted what you gave me, I would have shared the misery with the next passenger, and whoever I came in contact with for the rest of the day. Imagine the pain and anguish I would have inflicted on my family when I returned home. Forget me for a while , think what will happen to you when you walk around with this toxic anger? How will be your behaviour with your loved ones and your family?”
The woman started sobbing uncontrollably and after a few minutes said “please forgive me and thank you for your words of wisdom”
Kulwinder Singh, replied “ It is God you must thank for his great mercy and kindness and my Guru for his teachings which I imbibe.”
Guru Poornima is also the auspicious day on which Lord Buddha gave His first sermon at Sarnath (Uttar Pradesh, India).
Mahatma means great soul.