A Leap of Faith
Once during a visit, Swamiji was to consecrate a stone statue of a Shiva Nataraj. It was located on a ledge about seven feet high. So a small platform had to be constructed near the ledge in order for Swamiji to reach the statue. The consecration involved pouring five pots each of milk, yogurt, ghee, sugar, and fruit juice over the statue. The ceremony took some time, so the platform had to be suitable for Swamiji to stand on for several hours.
Swamiji explained that this ancient, sacred consecration would link Shiva’s astral body to the stone and protect the whole area where the statue was located. We were all very excited to witness this rare event. And we quickly constructed the platform where Swamiji was to perform the consecration on the Shiva statue.
When the platform was completed Swamiji wanted to inspect the work. We had also set up a ladder for Swamiji to use to climb up onto the platform. So Swamiji ascended the steps, stood on the platform, and verified it was suitable for the ceremony. Jagadish and I stood casually on the floor next to the platform as Swamiji completed his inspection of the construction work and pronounced it good.
At that point, Swamiji immediately went to the edge of the platform and without any warning or hesitation stepped off the edge. Jagadish and I instantaneously shot into action as if struck by a bolt of lightning. We caught him just in time and safely eased his descent to the floor.
We all had a great laugh at Swami’s leela (Divine Play). Still I could not believe that Swamiji took such a chance that we would be able to respond fast enough to prevent his fall and perhaps injury. Later when I contemplated the event I recognized there was a wonderful silent teaching going on. Of course, there was always a silent teaching going on around Swamiji, but it was up to the devotees to perceive it. From this incident I came to understand that the guru-devotee relationship was more of a two way street than I had previously realized.
It is obvious that when we find an authentic master or guru, we should develop a sincere trust in their guidance. And that we should also cultivate real faith in them even if we can not always understand their ways. But it had not occurred to me just how much the guru also must trust and have faith in those who love and serve him. Seeing Swamiji make this startling plunge, demonstrated his complete faith and trust in us to catch him. It unforgettably revealed a beautiful interdependence that can exist between guru and devotee. A discourse of many hours on the subject could never have communicated this truth as clearly or as profoundly as Swamiji’s leap of faith.
Photos by David Dudine
Photos by David Dudine