To Know the Unknowable

San Francisco Airport, 1983. We were the outliers, artists, scholars, peaceful, sensitive people who came to meet the one who could possibly direct us toward what we sought. We were an assorted clan of seekers, throwbacks from the 60s and 70s, no big hair, no crop tops. There was no charge to belong, no strings attached. We could come and go, stay or stray. We were not obligated to bear witness or to recruit followers to fill the ranks. So we gathered together to greet him, a man of yoga, beloved and famous only to a small few.

I came along with Rose, a longtime disciple who had initiated me with sound current, fire, and smoke. We lived side by side, her room separated from mine only by the white tiled space which held a large claw-foot tub. We shared the kitchen and sunny living room with my caged birds. To me Rose was an attractive mystery.

Our group arrived at the airport early and Kirinovoli inquired nervously, “Have you seen the little orange guy?” No one had. He would be wearing the orange clothing of a swami, traditional dress the color of fire which offers protection and indicates the burning away of ignorance. Around his neck would hang a compass so he would always know where he was, and he would be carrying a stick, a danda, not used to strike, but to restrain and control the wayward senses.

I had heard many stories of his transformative wonderfulness and I was eager to be in the presence of this magnetic being. He emerged finally through the gate, accompanied by the flutter of a few white robed assistants and sat down in the airport lounge to be welcomed. One by one his followers received his gracious blessings. I was the only new one whom he had not yet met, and he eyed me with his laser-like focus. “What is your name? How did you come?” Red-faced and fumbling for words I said “I came with, uh, uh the… Rose.” Guruji laughed at me, but kindly, warmly. I was all in.

Betsy Ceva
October 6, 2015

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