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  4. MY GURU SPEAKS OF LIFE – Now and Again


C G Westerlund
Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 10
Month : January
Issue Number : 1
Year : 2011

Plunked myself down on that stool next to the bow window of the Topa Topa Restaurant and waited. In time, as I knew he would, my guru, my spiritual teacher, placed himself on the stool next to me and ordered up a cup of brew.

“You asked me about immortality,” he said, taking up just where we had left off at our last meeting. If it was true: I had been bothered and bewildered at the thought of a universe without a Bob Bryan in it. In fact, it had been downright saddening.

“You must not be saddened at the idea of your own death,” my friend said, as if reading my thoughts. “All of us are suffering from a terminal disease called life.”

“Is there no cure?” I asked and my guru shook his head. “None,” he said. “at least not in the way we have been taught.”

ONLY THAT morning, on my way to the Topa Topa – that place where the elite meet – I had rejoiced to see children at play, young lovers walking arm in arm, as well as businessmen going about the buying and selling of property. Was all this gladness and joy to end?

Once again it was as if my teacher had read my thoughts. “There is no joy that has not been polished by sadness,” he said. “The more sadness, the richer the joy.”

Somehow I did not like the way our talk was going this morning. “When I was young I was joyful,” I protested. “And there was no sadness.”

Again my friend shook his head. “You were not joyful,” he corrected me. “You were wired into an adrenaline rush, which is the vanity of the young. Nature was leading you into the gentle trap of parenting, of mortgaging, of being somebody. You did not know anything about joy.”

“Then what is joy?” I asked.

“Joy is laughing… in the face of pain,” he said. “Joy is dancing… in the face of suffering. Joy is taking great good pleasure in all the abundance of life… in the face of death.”

 My friend leaned close to me. “All of us are broken on the wheel of life,” he added, as if telling me a secret. “But that does not prevent us from dancing.”

Suddenly, getting up from his stool, my guru began a sufi dance, native to his land. He danced and danced, as though that arthritic condition that had plagued him for years did not exist. The customers of Topa Topa smiled encouragement; it was like the sound of one hand clapping.

A LITTLE LATER, our session terminated, I walked out into the street. For some reason or other I felt the urge to do a step or two from Charleston, that dance they used to dance when I was a kid. My father and my mother had danced it and it was only recently that I had come to learn that they danced it in the face of sadness — a child dead, a dear friend crippled in an accident.

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