19 May 2014

Philosophy, Spiritualism, and a Taxi Driver

I've been meaning to finish this post for weeks now. It's been sitting in my drafts, taunting me. By leaving it longer, I feel I've lost some of the impact that initially made me WANT to blog this...

I caught a cab back from the hairdresser - maybe 15-20 mins ride. It was 7 or 8pm at night, and I just wanted to get home and have dinner after a day at work.

I'm not someone that sits in silence with a taxi driver, unless the driver isn't talkative (and, granted, sometimes you just want to get lost in your own thoughts and not 'make nice' with a stranger).

That night I hopped in the cab, and conversation started easily: what had brought me here (my haircut)... and I was in the mood to elaborate, so I explained that I followed my hairdresser whenever she changed salons (over the last few years I've had my hair done with her at three different places).

He laughed and said he did the same thing - in India he only let one guy cut his hair. We discussed habits and loyalty...

Then he absolutely surprised me by asking me, and I quote, "What had made me happiest in my life; what was I most grateful for".

With my ears still ringing from the blow dryer I was hit with this doozy of a question. Speechless...

Lots of things run through your mind... I commented on a few experiences and opportunities I was grateful for. But in the end, I thought of the thing that I didn't want taken from me... And that's my family.

I don't have children of my own... I said to him that I was grateful I had the parents I had - for the life they gave me (full of love).

He talked about his life, and his meditations, and what he had learnt; how he had reached a true state of meditation that few do, and how he had been given answers.

Sure, you could be a skeptic... Maybe he was lying. Shrugs.

For me, talking to him was incredibly interesting though, and I wanted to hear what he had to say. I was having a conversation with a stranger, not about the weather or the latest gossip, but about spirituality and what it meant for him.

As someone brought up without religion it can be interesting to understand another's beliefs. Not to judge them, or for them to judge you, but for insight and discussion.

Plus for me, someone without religion, I still feel I am spiritual... We want a connection with the world around us, and to feel there is 'more'.

And here was a man who was talking about his studies with his Master for decades, and about reaching a state he had been focusing on for years.

He told me his greatest achievement was his enlightenment... Oh, and that he knew the what love is.

What is love?

He gave me three words. Stripped of romanticism and emotive language.

Love is:

1. Sacrifice

2. Service

3. Duty

There are many words that can be used to describe love, but he said all of them could be attributed to either: sacrifice, service, or duty.

The combination of all three equals love. If one is missing, it's not love; there is an imbalance.

Such regimented words!

What about loyalty/commitment (service), caring (sacrifice or duty), honesty (duty)...

Anyway, I just wanted to share what a cab ride can mean (or what anything could lead to). I wasn't expecting to have my mind blown that night (just my hair!!).

Thank you 'Reddy'.

(I noted the book he was reading had a website: www.sriramchandra.org, which I meant to check out, but never got around to it - out of curiosity)

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