A man complained bitterly that he was always being taken advantage of by people he tried to help. He considered himself to be a loving, caring person, and could not understand why, when he reached out his helping hand, he was routinely “bitten” by the very person he was trying to help. Often this bite was expressed in the form of jealousy, resentment, or just plain anger aimed directly at him.
The man was in such a confused state over this often repeated patten in his life, that he sought the advice of a wise old Sage that was recommended to him. After relating his concerns to the Sage, he smiled and said, ” If you were to walk down a path in the tall grass and encounter an injured cobra which was coiled by the side of the path, would you reach out to the cobra and engage with it as he raised his head a half hearted manner and displayed its hood in a beckoning you for help?” “No,” replied the man, ” The cobra might strike at any moment even though I was trying to help. I would keep my distance as the cobra is dangerous and could cause me great harm.” “Very good,” said the Sage , with a faint smile on his face. After a brief moment, while he allowed the man to gather his thoughts, he continued. “You now continue further down the path and encounter a rabbit caught in a trap. Would you reach out to help free the rabbit?” “Without any hesitation,” replied the man. “The rabbit is in obvious need of help and would surely meet its death if I did not help.” “So would the Cobra, but you did not reach out to help it,” interjected the Sage. “Yes, but the rabbit posed no threat to my safety or well-being. Rabbits are loving beings,” the man said, knowingly. “Exactly,” exclaimed the Sage.
The man stared directly at the Sage for a moment and then a smile broke out on his face. The Sage began to laugh as the man, sheepishly said, “I get it.” Then in a flash, the Sage peered directly into the man’s eyes and said, “Remember this. It is the nature of the cobra to bite. Even an ‘enlightened’ cobra will bite. It is its personality. The rabbit, however, possesses a loving nature and expresses its love through gratitude posing no potential harm. Give attention, and always, always determine the personality of an individual being before you lend a helping hand. Then, and only then, will you avoid being bitten, plus you will avoid interfering with someone else’s karma, and taking it on as your own. . . . But that is another story.” Phil
Written in 2006 after spending 6 weeks in India at the Ayushakti Clinic in Mumbai.
Well, I’m into the home stretch. These last few days have been exhausting, but truly enlightening. Being with Pankaj is hard to desribe. Boundless and profound enlightened energy. I have seen things and done things with him that the rational mind would deny as either possible or existing as real.
On Monday night at the Ayushakti Center, after performing over 200 Marmaa sessions, in comes the Aghora Yoga master. At first glance he is very imposing and unsettling to many, especially the women. Large in stature, with distinct features, almost Roman in character, he was dressed all in black with a large black turbin, and he carried an intricate, large, imposing knife. He deposited himself in a chair right in front of Pankaj. As I was seated to Pankaj’s right I had a great view of this being. Upon close examination, I noticed that the Aghora had elaborate rings on all of his fingers, the most noteable of which was a huge almost golf ball sized quartz crystal mounted in a silver setting, making it the all time largest ring I have ever seen. This was displayed on his left index finger. Around his neck were at least a dozen beaded necklaces. I’m sure, as with the rings, they all had some significance, but it was impossible to ask as he spoke no English and was not very interested in anyone but Pankaj.
Pankaj, respectfully asked if he could share his experiences and some of his observations of the Aghora with us. He wholeheartedly gave his permisson. Pankaj then stated that what he would relate to us in no way was to be construed as part of his belief system, or that he even approves of the “lefthanded” path of the Aghora. Pankaj follows a much different path, and acts only as the Aghora’s physician. Pankaj Naram will treat anyone who asks and passes no judgment on anyone. I am sure this is why the Aghora comes to him. I was later to find out that there is another reason which I will relate shortly.
Pankaj related an event which took place with an Aghora, that demonstrates his powers. He had definitely developed Siddhis (powers) from his extreme practice. The following is just one example. The Aghora asked Pankaj to pick a bird out of a wild flock that was flying overhead. Once Pankaj had the bird fixed in his mind, the Aghora made a gesture, and the exact wild bird that Pankaj had picked, peeled out of formation and flew down to Pankaj’s feet. What we learned next is hard to believe, but I trust the honesty of Pankaj Naram implicitly.
This Aghora master only eats flesh. But guess what kind. Only fresh human corpses. As bizzare as it sounds it is true and brought a smile to the Aghora’s face as he witnessed the reaction of the group listening to Pankaj speak. We learned further that the Aghoras philosophy is based on the premise that there is no right or wrong, good or bad. Everything is God. No judgment or dsitinctions. It is really the most extreme of the Tantric paths. If you bring a flower or dung to an Aghora he will receive it with equal adoration. Aghoras, in order to demonstrate their belief that all things are equal, have been known to ingest a flower and then dung with no ill affects. Aghoras many times live in cemeteries and cremation grounds (Smashans) to have access to fresh corpses. They perform, what would appear to be bizzare rituals to develop their powers. They are very secretive, and only have about 800 masters, which by Indian standards is infinitesmally small. Pankaj translated the remarks of the Aghora as he stated, proudly, that it may be the most difficult path and that many die in the process of trying to become enlightened aghora masters. The level of committment and alteration of traditional belief systems is so great, that many go insane trying to follow the path. Needless to say, there are no Westerners on the Aghora path.
As Pankaj finished relating and translating information on the Aghora, he asked everyone but myself and an Italian Doctor, Giovanni, to leave the room. He then took the Aghora’s pulse, after which the Aghora Master became a bit agitated. He questioned Pankaj and was demanding something. Pankaj refused to give him whatever he was asking for. Since, at this moment the only people present in the room other than Pankaj and the Aghora was a tiny, sweet, Italian doctor, Giovanni, and myself, I wondered as the Aghora’s agitation grew, since I was by far the biggest person there except for the Aghora, if I would have to intervene. Pankaj, however, was in full command of the situation, and the Aghora became calm and actually bowed to Pankaj. Not knowing the language it was quite baffling to me and Giovanni. Then the Aghora got up and swiftly departed. I asked Pankaj what that was about, and he related the following. The Aghora was dumbfounded at Pankaj’s ability to read not only his body, but his thoughts and his lineage, and habits. He knew that Pankaj had a special ability to tap directly into source energy. This was an ability the Aghora wanted badly and did not possess. He asked Pankaj to give him the Mantras and practice that came from Pankaj’s lineage that would allow him to achieve this Siddhi, but Pankaj refused. The Aghora finally accepted Pankaj’s position and bowed to his mastery. Such was my first introduction to the Aghoras.
In complete contrast, on Tuesday night I was again in the company of Swami Narayan, who I had the pleasure of meeting shortly after arriving in Mumbai. At our first meeting we really seemed to “hit it off,” and I was fortunate to receive Shaktipa when, at Pankaj’s request I placed a garland of flowers around Swami’s neck. Swami Narayan smiled and as he leaned forward to receive the garland, he gave me a slap on the back. This resulted in a bolt of energy coursing through my body. He bowed to me, and in a semi-dazed state I returned the acknowledgement. Then everyone had a good laugh. Pankaj said later that Swami Narayan saw something in me, and that my experience with him was quite a special moment.
So now late Tuesday night well into early Wednesday morning, I had the honor of being with Swami Narayan again, this time to assist in giving him a Marmaa treatment. Having just finished seeing 407 patients at Pankaj’s Vila Parle Clinic in a poverty stricken part of Mumbai, I felt exhausted as our driver, a Muslim named Mat Sut, sped his way through the crowded streets of the city to the in town residence of Swami Narayan. He had come secretly to Mumbai to avoid the thousands who would have descended on his residence if the word had gotten out that he was coming. As I gazed out the window of our speeding car I could not help but ask myself how it was that a Westerner like me was so priviledged as to be able to be in the company of the man they call “God Walking on Earth.” Pankaj, as if reading my mind, said that Swami Narayan felt a love and connection to me that was quite unique, and was glad that I was accompanying Pankaj on this visit.
As we entered the courtyard of Swami’s residence, I felt my energy return. It was as if we had entered a charged energy field that was tranquil but refreshing. Swami Narayan’s secretary welcomed us with open arms and took us directly to Swamiji. There before me was, again this radiant beaming face, so humble, yet so powerful, so genuine, and yet so playful. He and Pankaj immediately began talking and laughing like children in a school yard. It was such a pleasant sight. He asked how we were – as if he didn’t know – and then asked if we had any questions. Looking at me and reading my mind, he began to laugh and then knodded his approval. What I was thinking at that exact moment was that I have too many questions, most of which are completely superfluous. What I was striving for was a quiet mind . . . no thoughts no questions. We performed a Marmaa treatment, I feel more for our amusement than Swamiji’s need, (although Pankaj did lower his blood pressure a bit), and then we were offered Prasad while Swami Narayan went on his late evening walk around the residential grounds.
I glanced at my watch. It was 3:00 AM when we resumed our meeting with Swamiji. He asked me where I lived, and then told me to come and see him when he is in Boston. With that I placed a traditional garland of flowers around Swamiji’s neck, and this time instead of slapping me on the back he took my hands and smiled looking deeply into my eyes. It was one of the most peaceful moments I have ever experienced.
With Mat Sut at the wheel we headed back to Malad. It was daybreak. Tuesday had been a turning point for me. To see those patients and watch Pankaj, everpresent, serving each and every one with total focus and committment, and then to be given the grace of one of the most enlightened living souls walking the earth today impacted me in a way I can not yet express. It is deep and rattles me at my core.
What is this life all about if it is not to serve mankind. Our journey through life presents us with all types of beings, from Aghora master to enlightened Swamis and everything in between. What I learned from Pankaj is that all beings are worthy of one’s full attention and service, attention void of any judgment. That is where one’s own enlightenment starts. That is where Love dwells.
Throughout my business life, I have had the privilege of working with some very talented CEO”s. Above all, the most important traits amongst the great ones is the ability to assess, adapt and take thoughtful action. USANA, like all successful companies, has tenaciously faced it’s challenges. Because of his heart, commitment and humility, Dave grows and adapts with each adversity, every time, making him a stronger, more effective leader. Dave Wentz is the present and the future of USANA Health Sciences. I for one, feel privileged to know him and watch him evolve.
It might be surprising to find that one place I recently saw first hand the signs of cultural change was boxing! Last week we attended the TV network debut of Mike Lee, the young star boxer from Notre Dame. This is not the usual sporting event for us to attend but we were invited by one of our business associates, Chris Vaisnoras a graduate of Notre Dame, who is working closely with Mike Lee’s team to help promote his boxing career.
We were 3 (Jacob joined us) of 500 t-shirt wearing fans circling the ring at the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas. It is not often, maybe never, that we have put on t-shirts to demonstrate our allegiance to one athlete, but don the shirts we did. This was my first live boxing match and maybe my 3rd or 4th professional bout total. I have never been a fan of boxing and I am not sure I will ever be called a “fan” but I can say now that what I witnessed was not what I had expected. What I saw was a very intelligent, well-educated, humble young man conduct himself in a very professional manner. Both boxers conducted themselves with respect for one another. This struck me as significant. I don’t remember watching the few boxing matches on TV showing this level of mutual respect. The following night we watched the match between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley (as I write this I am surprised at myself for writing this) and I saw the same thing…humility and respect.
So here is my take away from this. If we are starting to see within sports like boxing, mutual respect for one another and a genuine appreciation for each other’s abilities we are seeing the beginnings of a collective change in how we view and treat one another as human beings. I believe it is a sign that change, a shift in consciousness, is taking place and it excites me to find signs in the most unexpected places. I truly believe that what we give attention to increases so for now I am going to look for all the signs of this change in the nooks and crannies of life, in the places where our thoughts and feelings have become numb and habituated. If we start to see evidence, no matter how small, we will continue to expand it until this becomes the norm, the way we all are treating each other every day, not just on Sunday!
A saint was walking down the street one day after a rain. Approaching a puddle, he joyfully bent over, stuck his hand in the water and immediaely pulled it out, exclaiming, “Ouch!” Continuing on his way he approached another puddle and bent down joyfully, stuck his hand in the water and again quickly removed his hand yelling,”Ouch!” This same thing happened each time the Saint approached another puddle.
A passerby who watched this chain of events stopped and asked the saint what was going on, and if he was OK. The Saint replied, “Most definitely.” “Well, why then do you keep bending over at each puddle, stick your hand in the water only to quickly pull it out yelling ouch,” the passerby inquired.
The Saint smiled and said, “After the rain puddles form, and as I walk along I see scorpions drowning in the puddles. Everytime I bend down to help them, they bite me.” “Why do you keep helping the scorpions knowing you will be bitten,” the passerby asked. “Because, very simply, it is my nature to help and the scorpion’s nature to bite. It is my choice to experience the bite in order to help.
“That seems foolish,” the passerby exclaimed. “Only if I choose to help, knowing the consequences, but expecting a different result. The scorpion will always act according to its own nature. I can not expect it to act otherwise. If after learning of the scorpion’s nature from the first bite, I continue to help expecting not to be bitten, then, yes, I would be a fool.”
From my late night thoughts and self-examination . . . How many times have we continued to be “bitten” by some repeated endeavor, vice or behavioral pattern, falsely trying to convince ourselves that we will avoid the “bite.” I have come to learn, that living an enlightened life, requires as a pre-requisite, that one know one’s own nature, and that one acts in harmonious accord with the moment that one is in, moment by moment. This requires, initially, an inward journey coupled with complete awareness and absolute focus. At the other end is revealed, life as pure Joy. One is then “in the Flow.” Life becomes non-judgmental because, when one is in harmonius accord with each moment, there is a pure acceptance of the co-creative aspects that collectively make up that moment. When this state is reached, one is living in perfection of being, consciously, with full awareness . . . Enlightened!
Recently I have heard a lot of talk about choosing to live a “free” life. My niece Kate Moller is about to embark on her “Freedom Tour” around the states and Liza Pascal recently recommended a book, by Chris Guillebeau titled The Art of Nonconformity. This is a topic close to my heart and I actually have 60 years of living this life to look back on and consider. To use the words my sister, Dr. Christiane Northrup likes to use, my reflections are a “retrospective diagnosis.” What contributed to my deep yearnings of freedom and avoidance of living the norm? I love the word “unfettered”. I have used it many times to describe my brother Bill’s unbounded, creative mind.
The feeling I get when I say it is the feeling of letting go of shackles, of freeing myself of limitations in my life both tangible and imaginary. Over the years I have often heard my mother say “Loose thy bonds and let them free.” So you might say this contributed to my wanderlust. It is also ironic that at age 3 I was put in a straight jacket because I kept getting out of bed and heading out the front door. Seems it was always without clothes on so the combination of my nakedness and heading out the front door created enough fear in my parents that putting me in a straight jacket felt safer to them. I certainly created for myself the contrast I needed to give me a lifetime of seeking freedom! But this wasn’t the only major event in my life that caused me to let go.
After spending the first 22 years of my life focusing on attaining athletic prowess and winning lots of awards as a competitive ski racer on the US Ski Team as you might imagine, I had a large collection of trophies, medals and plaques. Four years after retiring from ski racing, and now married with a newborn came the next big “letting go.” We had moved from living in my grandmother’s house to live closer to where Phil was working. We had moved into a fully furnished home so we left all of our “prized possessions” stored in an upstairs room of my grandmother’s house. We had carefully packed everything in boxes so it would be out of the way and easy to move when the time came. One cold January morning we drove to check on the house to discover that vandals had broken into the house and obviously spent many hours laying waste to the contents. What seemed to interest them most was my trophy collection. I found pieces of broken trophies and plaques strewn around the upstairs and thrown out the windows. They had broken open and emptied every single box but it was the destruction of all my awards that held their focus. There I stood looking at the remnants of my ski-racing career scattered around the cold littered floor and out on the snow covered lawn. It was so personal and so violent. After the initial shock wore off I went about collecting all the broken pieces and put them in several boxes to be dealt with later.
What I didn’t know, in that moment, was how defining this was to be in my life moving forward. The real impact was felt as I stood above the giant empty abyss at the local waste management facility, better known then as the “dump”, and watched the pieces of my former life, my identity, fall into the void. Sad? You bet, but as I emptied each box I became aware of how incredibly freeing it was. This was way bigger than just ridding myself of literally pounds of metal and wood! The emotional burden of carrying around the attachment to my former life had weight I had never really considered. Thoughts are energy, energy has weight. Obviously you can’t put it on an ordinary bathroom scale and measure but when you release it you feel lighter! I no longer had to lug around the baggage of my previous life literally and figuratively.
It wasn’t just my stuff either. Phil also had to let go of memorabilia he had from his former life.
From that moment on our lives were changed forever. Traveling light, leaving no tracks, cherishing every experience, every conversation, every sunset in the moment it is happening. Now free and unfettered to receive what comes next.
Pankaj met an extraordinay man from whom he studied Ayurveda for ten years. At the time Pankaj met him, he was over 110 years old. He became Pankaj’s and his wife Smita’s Guru.
After teaching Pankaj everything he would need to know to practice the ancient medicine of Ayurveda, as dates back to a fearless committed lineage of over 2500 years to Buddah, the old man decided to leave Mumbai, and move to the mountains of Kashmir to live out his days. He left Pankaj full of his knowledge with his practice. Pankaj’s practice and reputation grew and he became very sucessful. Yet there was a restlessness, and fear that was unexplainably present in him. Pankaj received a communication from his Guru, asking him how he was, and Pankaj wrote back saying that he was fine but afraid. He heard back from the Guru saying to come to Kashmir.
At the time of the invitation, there was huge civil unrest in Kashmir and much terrorism. Pankaj and Smita honoring the request of their Guru, flew to Kashmir. They were the only civilians on the plane. The rest were soldiers sent in to bring order. A general on the plane asked Pankaj why he and Smita were going to Kashmir at such a time and, when Pankaj responded that it was at his Guru’s request, the general shouted back that their Guru must be a stupid old man to invite them at this time as they would surely be killed. Pankaj said they would be fine as someone would be at the airport to meet them and take them safely to the Guru.
No one was at the airport to pick them up. The apprehension that was first present in Pankaj as he was preparing for the trip had now changed to fear. But still he had to honor the request of the Guru and venture into the mountains alone with Smita. He was sure that at the first village someone would be there to meet him and escort him and Smita the rest of the way.
The village was quiet and had an aire of vacant stillness about it. Not only was there no one to escort them, there was no one to give them directions or even to ask about the safety of preceeding onward. As the fear mounted, Pankaj decided there was no alternative but to go forward, so he and Smita proceeded down a path, out of the village to a large lake which Pankaj knew had to be crossed to get to the village where his Guru resided.
At the lake was a dock with a small boat, and as Pankaj approcahed the dock a small man jumped out of the bushes startling both Pankaj and Smita, and asked them what they were doing there. He then told them of how the villagers all fled into the mountains to avoid being captured by the terroists who were camped in the area. A pulsating fear now almost overcame Pankaj as he uttered, in a course whisper, a request that the little man take them by boat across the lake. The little boatsman said he would, but warned that he could not protect them, and that there was, not only a danger of being captured, but if captured, that Smita would surely be raped. Still Pankaj said and Smita agreed that they must proceed and, so they started across the lake. After a short distance, in the morning mist coming off the lake, appeared another boat occupied by a boatsman and a young couple. A sense of comfort overtook Pankaj for a moment until another boat was spied moving quickly toward the boat with the young couple.
What took place thereafter was terrifying. A group of young terrorists boarded the boat, seized the young women and raped her. Pankaj and Smita could only watch from a distance, silently, helplessly, but undetected. Sliding back into the mist the little boatsman skillfully navigated the boat to the other side of the lake, where much to their surprise, one of the Gurus attendents was there to give Pankj and Smita a cheerful greeting.
Walking up a steep path for a short distance, Pankaj spied his Guru. Upon approaching him, the first words out of his Guru’s mouth were, “how did you like the fear?” Pankaj stunned, dropped to his knees, and instantly understood what had just transpired. He and Smita had arrived safely. By being alert and focusing on their objective, they had reached their destination avoiding all pitfalls. They had been resourceful and had faith, in spite of the fear.
The Guru asked Pankaj, so what is fear anyway? After a long pause, Pankaj answered, “Fear is nothing more than the anticipation of what could be. It is not what is. It is the mind engaging in past patterning and programming creating scenarios that are lived as real but do not exist. In fact, fear can never actually manifest as existence. It is a product of the mind alone, fueled by emotion. Once an event occurs it exists at that moment soley as the event itself, not the ‘fear of the event.’ Therefore, fear is only a game of the mind that prevents us from living fully in the moment.” “Exactly,” the Guru replied. “You have learned your lesson well.”
As it turns out, seven people were invited to come to Kashmir to see the Guru. Only Pankaj with his wife, Smita, made the journey. Fear prevented all the rest from even attempting it. This was the final test for Pankaj. He was given the ancient Ayurvedic scriptures and entrusted with the lineage. The Guru knew that Pankaj would live his life fearlessly as all of the lineage that had gone before him.
Shortly thereafter, the Guru left his body. He summoned Pankaj and told him that he was going to leave as his work was done. He said, “this body is like a shirt, after a while, even if you take good care of it, it becomes warn, thread bare, and needs to be replaced. Within the scriptures you have been given are the Principles of living an enlightened life. Bring them to the world. Be fearless and honor your lineage.” With that he was gone.