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A Beautiful Living Mystery

By Richard Henry Whitehurst on Wednesday September 23rd, 2020

Image: Pop & Zebra

An Unimaginable Occurence

I’m going to share with you a synchro-mystical memoir that actually occurred; beyond ideas and conceptions … outside of statistical analysis, chance, and ordinary coincidence.

The Context

The year was 1977. The season – Summer. The place – India. Some seven-hundred-eighty million people were then living there in a collection of over one hundred thousand villages, towns and cities.

Monks and Cars

Bombay’s heat was unbearable as I stood out in the sun to see for the first time that beautiful cream-coloured Mercedes Benz. My fellow monk, Raman, had just driven it overland from Germany in a six-week ordeal that included breakdowns, food shortages, and disappearing highways.

This vehicle was a magnificent two-door coupé loaded with extras – a regal conveyance suitable for any of India’s Maharajas. In India, these cars were rarely seen. Throw into this automotive-context a couple of (American) Vedic-monks, and ‘rarity’ suddenly became a ‘shocking oddity’.

I sat in the plush passenger seat, admiring the overall design and materials, and began imagining a pilgrimage that would unfold all the way to the southern tip of Kanyakumari. From there, I imagined us heading north, to end up in Kathmandu, where Raman actually had a wealthy acquaintance ready to purchase if we could just deliver the car in one piece.

In the radiance of this beautiful automobile, I felt my heart sink as Raman shared his concerns about damages to the power-steering. From my months of travelling on India’s crumbling highways, I knew the crucial importance of dependable steering, so getting this unit repaired seemed absolutely necessary.

We packed up our few possessions and decided to cautiously drive to Bombay’s Mercedes-Benz service-centre. There, the gleaming team of young German-trained Indian mechanics inspected the car and then told us the many months required and the immense cost of new parts and labour. Their entire plan was absolutely un-workable. In his New Jersey accent, with his eyes rolled back, Raman abruptly blurted out, “Screw that!” — and within minutes we were on the road headed south.

Alt text hereWithin minutes we were on the road headed south. Image: Tom Balabaud

Highways of Chaos

Desperation or foolishness, whatever our motivations, we plunged into the highways of chaos and braced ourselves as this gorgeous car lurched precariously without warning, ever more frequently, for hundreds and hundreds of kilometres. In the glaring heat, we saw brilliant green rice paddies, ox-carts, water-buffalo, monkeys, coconut palms, cows, crows, tea stalls, mangy dogs, venders, lories, rickshaws, bicycles, scooters … and endless, endless people.

Ecstatic Overwhelm

We did make it all the way to the southern tip of India, and from there, two days later, we emerged on the main boulevard of Madras; broad, intensely hot, mysteriously free of all traffic, and lined with spectators. We discovered that the huge throngs gathered there had been waiting for hours for the imminent arrival of the Prime Minister, who was now, it seemed, being upstaged by two white sadhus driving a Mercedes Benz. In this unusual circumstance, I jumped up through the sunroof, sat there with my legs dangling and my saffron robes flowing elegantly in the hot air. I felt inspired to wave to the multitudes with cupped hands, exactly as I had seen Queen Elizabeth do on TV.

This bizarre and unexpected appearance electrified the masses as hundreds of thousands of people went into ecstatic overwhelm. A colourful human-tsunami swept down both sides of the wide boulevard as we drove along. I couldn’t stop giggling in my state of disbelief.

Border-Quicksand

We continued on our northerly course and experienced many fantastic occurrences. The car’s power steering worsened and the hazardous uncertainty of our driving steadily intensified. By the time we reached India’s border with Nepal, we had had at least thirty near head-on collisions, mostly with lorries.

Although we planned to cross into Nepal at the main border crossing-point just north of Gorakhpur, we had been told that with our international car registration nearing its expiry date, we would probably be detained until it expired, and then watch as the car gets impounded in the quicksand of Indian bureaucracy, wherein it would disappear forever. We were advised to cross many kilometres to the west via the tiny hamlet of Nanpara.

We pressed on toward Nanpara upon mostly unpaved roads, allured by the backdrop of the majestic snow-capped looming Himalayan Mountains in the distance. We entered the little village with its quaint, colourful earthiness; women with tattered saris carrying water pots on their heads, small children flying tiny kites made of dry leaves; the heat, the dust, brick hovels, and of course, the grunting gray pigs taking care of business in the open sewers.

Alt text hereThe wonders and liveliness of India. Image: Charl Forscher

A Loud Pinging Sound

Just as we were making our way into the blinding village square, I heard a loud pinging sound and looked over at Raman to see him rapidly spinning the steering wheel in either direction as the car continued to lumber straight ahead. He hit the brakes, stopping directly in front of a shabby tea stall.

Sitting at an arm’s length from the hood of the car was a very distinguished Indian gentleman in his seventies wearing a pristine, starched, white-button-down dress-shirt with a perfect bow-tie. He sipped tea from a fine China teacup in the late morning’s merciless heat. He seemed completely out of place.

Raman opened his car door and slid underneath to have a look. Having been a mechanic in his former life, he quickly assessed the situation, got up, and whispered in my ear, “We are TOTALLY screwed!”

As he was brushing himself off, I got busy looking around to see if there was anyone who might help us. I approached three men sitting off to the left sipping chai and smoking bidis; probably truck drivers. When I asked them in Hindi if there was a mechanic in the district, they all pointed to the distinguished gentleman sipping his tea.

What is the Difficulty?

We walked up to him and without hesitation asked, in English, if he might have any suggestions regarding our plight. With his head bobbing side to side, he replied very politely, “I am having some knowledge of automobiles. I will finish my tea and see what is the difficulty.”

After his last sip, he walked away only to come back minutes later in some work clothes. He directed Raman to start the engine and turn the steering wheel. Then he slid under the car, tapped a few things with a small hammer, issued a few more instructions, and then came up. With a twinkle in his eyes, he told us in his distinguished, almost British intonation, “I will repair your steering system very nicely. It will take me some four hours only.”

No Charge to Sadhus!

Being ever so desperate, and hearing the confidence in his voice, we asked him how much it would cost. He said, “No charge to sadhus, but maybe fifty rupees for some bits and pieces.” We nodded ‘yes.’

Within forty-five minutes he had removed the unit from the car and took it to the village blacksmith. After disassembly, its main bolts were heated red-hot, hammered, and stretched. Bicycle inner-tubes became new gaskets. Other ingenious strategies occurred sequentially out of bits of junk, and in less than four hours he had the power steering re-installed. He instructed Raman to start the engine and test the steering. It responded precisely to fingertip pressure – like brand new!

Alt text hereHe hit the brakes, stopping directly in front of a shabby tea stall. Image: Sonaal Bangera

Bursting with intense curiosity, we respectfully asked, “Ji … how did you know what to do to fix the steering on this German car?”

A Cosmic Joke

As if he’d been in on a cosmic joke, he calmly divulged,

“You’ll both be very pleased to know that I was the chief mechanic at the Bombay Mercedes-Benz for some thirty-five years, and for the last six months have been happily retired here to my family village.”

Bewildered, blessed, astonished — we cried.

Epilogue

The impossibility of it: that we could have rolled right up to the one human being in all of South-Asia, probably all of Asia, or even the entire planet, who could repair this power-steering unit with metal scraps from a wooden box. The inconceivable timing of it, the odds and right before we were about to drive into some of the most dangerous roads on Earth; well, it was just too much. Our tiny brains went into melt-down and the conventional categories of ‘consensus-reality’ dissolved into vapor as this old man finished making his final statement.

With his words echoing in our minds like distant laughter, we sat rigidly in the car’s front seats and slowly rolled out of the now mysterious little village, our sights set on crossing the border. Affected by the multiplicity of utter disbelief and amazement, I felt faint, and Raman appeared pale and deeply disturbed.

We exited from India without conversation or incident that late afternoon. We drove north, on and on, quietly gazing out upon the surrounding vastness … huge mountains, forests, clouds, endless sky, our home-star sinking into the golden rim of the world, as countless pinpoints of light emerged from the black mouth of nightfall.

In the following days, we negotiated those dangerous mountain roads without prayers or mantras, or even New Jersey jokes. We silently slipped from gratitude, into eerie feelings of perfect emptiness — as though we were now resting within an immense, inscrutable, and utterly beautiful, living Mystery.

~

We would love to hear about any events in your lives that defy all odds. Events that are so syncro-mystical as to leave no doubt that there is an invisible web connecting us all; communicating with us all on many levels. We always appreciate your engagement and your contribution.
We are all connected, all one, all interdependent.

Love always

Team UPLIFT

 

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25 Responses to A Beautiful Living Mystery

  1. Richard, Your story was so well written. Your words took me right into India and I got to missing Her! This adventure left me thirsty for more. Are you a writer with other stories? I giggled too when I read how you giggled, waving to the crowds! You did have SO MUCH FUN!! With almost 30 head on crashes…(Oh I remember those), the crazy roads, the scenery and then to completely break down right in front of an unusually dressed man who was your savior!!!!! Then….to ride within the Great Quiet Mystery the rest of the way. Yes! LIFE IS a wonder-filled Adventurous Mystery!
    Thank You for sharing some of your adventure with the crazy synchronicity.

    • Aya ~ thanks for your wonderful comment(s)! Somehow my life has been and continues to be full of amazing stories and synchronicities. I enjoy telling them at the various presentations that I give as often as circumstances will allow. You have really captured the spirit of this travel account – and I believe that is because you live in that same resonance of the magic and mystery that is LIFE. The late meditation teacher Robert Aitken once said, “Our job is not to clear up the Mystery – but rather, to make the Mystery clear.” Wishing you well in all that you do and are! – Richard

      • Also Sperry – having read and totally enjoyed your account of your awakening epoch I was reminded of the words of Masanobu Fukuoka in his enlightening book on the creation of his methods of ‘natural farming’ … One Straw Revolution. After he gives his account of an awakening that occurred (to ‘him’) as a younger man as he was lying besides a misted river, he goes on to say:

        “I can still remember that it was the morning of the 15th of May. In a daze, I watched the harbour grow light, seeing the sunrise and yet somehow not seeing it. As the breeze blew up from below the bluff, the morning mist suddenly disappeared. Just at that moment, a night heron appeared, gave a sharp cry, and flew away into the distance. I could hear the flapping of its wings. In an instant, all my doubts and the gloomy mist of my confusion vanished. Everything I had held in firm conviction, everything upon which I had ordinarily relied was swept away with the wind. I felt that I understood just one thing. Without my thinking about them, words came from my mouth: “In this world there is nothing at all…” I felt that I understood nothing (To “understand nothing,” in this sense, is to recognize the insufficiency of intellectual knowledge.).

        I could see that all the concepts to which I had been clinging, the very notion of existence itself, were empty fabrications. My spirit became light and clear. I was
        dancing wildly for joy. I could hear the small birds chirping in the trees, and see the distant waves glistening in the rising sun. The leaves danced green and sparkling. I felt that this was truly heaven on earth. Everything that had possessed me, all the agonies, disappeared like dreams and illusions, and something one might call “true nature” stood revealed.

        I think it would safely be said that from the experience of that morning my life
        changed completely.e. Seen from the outside, there is no more run-of- the -mill fellow than I, and there has been nothing extraordinary about my daily life. But the assurance that I know this one thing has not changed since that time. I have spent thirty years, forty years, testing whether or not I have been mistaken, reflecting as I went along, but not once have I found evidence to oppose my conviction.

        That this realization in itself has great value does not mean that any special
        value is attached to me. I remain a simple man, just an old crow, so to speak. To the casual observer I may seem either humble or arrogant.”

  2. Amazing story. Little things occur, and they’re linked in ways we can’t anticipate or fathom. They help us see the magic in life.

  3. This reminds me of a similar experience from 1979, on a rural back road in southern Missouri, USA. My story involves a rusted-out, red ’68 VW hatchback; carrying a canoe & bound for a float trip that never came to be. On a Saturday afternoon, slowly limping along through a small town with no repair shop open; my companion & I were directed to the home of, who I came to remember as, “The Bare-Foot Mechanic.” Being un-mechanically inclined, I was amazed with his ability to apply a temporary fix for an oft recurring problem; the sign of what was to be the impending “death” of our ancient auto. His genius was surpassed only by his generosity; a refusal to accept payment for rescuing two poor pilgrims. The slow journey back the the Big City afforded plenty of time to reflect on & be grateful for the synchronicity (“the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection:…”). Blessed is the Universe.

    • Yeah Paul – Thanks for your share! As we continue waking up, the synchronicities seem to become more and more frequent and for me serve as pointers that ‘I’m on the right track.’

      I love that quote by the Danish philosopher Kirkegaard … “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.” Sometimes remembering these ‘mechanic characters’ I wonder to myself, ‘Who are these guys really??’ Whatever they are, they appear to me as unassuming expressions of the beauty that humanity can be.

      Just keep on truckin’ Paul … thanks again for your comment.

  4. If we let go and trust in the synchronicity of the Universe, all will be well. Or as John Lennon said, ” in the end, all will be well. If it isn’t well, then it’s not the end”.
    Even at this moment in my life, (I am 71), I am going through a situation which, if I allowed it, could be quite stressful. Fortunately, I have learned through experience, to let go and let God. Spirit will take care of it in a far better way than I ever could.
    If you are having a problem or are stressed or have to make a difficult decision, then pray for an outcome of the greatest Good for All concerned. Don’t try to force events. Then relax and Let Go. And watch what happens…………………..

    • Richard … beautiful succinct comment. Thank you very much.

      Hey – one thing that I had to leave out in this account due to word count was the fact that the car’s air conditioner could not cope with the intense heat of the Indian summer (up to 50 degrees C !) so we had to drive most of the time without AC and with the windows up. The air was so dry and hot that we felt better in the radiating oven of the closed car than the blast furnace of that super-heated wind. It was severely austere!

    • Thanks for your comments Sully ~ I am really glad you enjoyed reading it. Yup … the maroon color caught me off guard too … and maybe I can coax the powers that be to dig up a pic of a 2 door beige coupe. I definitely didn’t have the means to take a photo but I trust that the worded description delivered the appropriate mental image.

  5. I was just this morning sitting on a dock looking out onto the bay of Bocas del Toro. The jungle on the right the sun painting a golden glow on the tops of the green mountains in the distance. I was thinking I am 70 years old and what a wonder-filled life. With all the ups the downs and the adventures. I am filled with gratitude truly a “lucky” SOB

  6. For me this is normal. Just trusting in the NOW! I don´t like carstories! But the principle is all right. Felix Pan Lauwers from germany the north, Lobacker. Also a very small village.

    • Thanks you Felix for reaffirming the fact that more and more human beings are living in the higher resonance of trusting in the NOW. I’m not really a car story fan either … but the underlying context in this one was truly mind-blowing. Sending love … Richard

  7. Uplifted,full of Love and inspired by the synchronicity, but I agree with Sully – a stock photo of a cream coupe would have been perfect.
    Love the story and the young smiling man at the shuttered window.

  8. This is a fabulous story and I really enjoyed reading it, but I must ask why a photo of a four- door, maroon coloured Benz sedan has been posted here when the story is about a two-door cream coloured Benz coupê – in all it’s magnificence. It is quite perplexing. Even if the author does not have a photo of the original car, surely a stock photo would be available?

    • Hello Sully,

      Thanks for your comment and for reading 🙂 I know it seems a bit silly not to have an image that matches the description of the car, but as the sole sub-editor for UPLIFT, I am quite limited in time and resources (being a not-for-profit magazine, we can only use royalty-free images, which limits my options somewhat) so as much as I want to find the perfect image (and trust me, I do!) I simply have to make compromises sometimes, unfortunately. I tend to hope that the images I choose are enough to spark our readers’ imagination 😉

      Much love and thanks again for reading.
      Briony and Team UPLIFT

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