Chapter 7 – On the Road to Sarnath
“Have you travelled the road to Sarnath?”
“Once only,” said Henry after lunch one day. “I took a cab but you can walk it. It’s about ten kilometers.”
“That’s where the Buddha taught the Dharma after being enlightened isn’t it?”
“Yes, Buddha traveled to Sarnath himself to teach and establish the Sangha, as he had seen that the five enlightened ones he was supposed to form the community with would be there.”
“So it’s not too far.”
“Not at all. If you leave early in the morning, at sunrise, you can spend all day there and be back by nightfall.”
“I know I have to go tomorrow. I don’t know why, I just have to go. There is something important that will happen if I do.”
“Ah, many mysterious things happen on the road to Sarnath,” said Henry with a twinkle in his eye.
Altair started his journey on the road to Sarnath with a feeling of jubilant exhilaration. Something in the hidden wisdom of Sarnath was about to speak to him and break free.
Babaji had said it “You will write about the unity between the Christ, Krishna and the Buddha. That inspired sons and daughters of God speak with the same truth.”
Just how true this was, was about to strike a light in his heart.
The houses and markets on the roadway were filled with people looking to buy and sell and talk and listen even at this early hour when it was not too dusty and there was not so much traffic. There were the usual peddlers and beggars and cycle rickshaws trying to get him to ride with them but Altair brushed past them all as if they were cobwebs.
He stopped to buy a mango lassi and talked to some of the locals about Sarnath. After he had been walking for about half an hour Altair found himself moving smoothly along one of the streets flanked by two men. He had no idea where they had come from or why they were there but he felt perfectly safe as if he was with his family. His vision began to blur and the crowds around them seemed to dissipate like a mirage fading. The sky overhead was clear blue but the air seemed to tremble.
“Where are you going?” said Altair to break the ice. One man was wearing an ochre robe and had deep-set blue eyes and curly black hair. He seemed to emit a golden hue. The other man was silent but gave off the same glimmering golden aura. Both men moved with dignity and grace and greeted those around them with love and respect.
“To Sarnath. To meet the five who left me earlier,” said the blue-eyed man.
“How did you get here?” asked Altair, puzzled as to how the men had snuck up on him unawares.
“We crossed the Ganges in one step, and entered Benares early this morning, made our alms round, bathed, ate our meal and left by the east gate of the city in time to meet you, walking towards Rishipatana Mrigadava, the rishi’s deer park, like all Buddhas.”
“Like all Buddhas…” Altair’s voice trailed away in stunned realization. Right ahead of them was a herd of deer grazing. He felt he must be dreaming. He was with the Buddha!
“Is this Sarnath already?”
“It is, but not as you know it,” said the Buddha.
“Are they monks?” asked Altair pointing at the gathering crowds. There seemed to be thousands of people massing on what were now surrounding villages and farms.
“They will be,” said the other man. “Monks and nuns, dakinis and bodhisattvas, Altair, just like me. Manjushri.”
Then five men approached them.
“Here he comes, that lazy good-for-nothing Siddhartha. Such a quitter! Why would we want anything to do with him?” They spoke directly to Siddhartha and seemed not to see Altair or Manjushri. “Just ignore him, he’ll soon get the message.”
The Buddha took a step forward to meet the men and something changed. They all seemed to become more erect, more noble and alert, as if he deserved their respect.
They made a place for him on the grass, smoothing some patches, took his robe, brought him water and knelt at his feet.
“Welcome Siddhartha to Rishipatana Mrigadava, the Rishi’s deer park, we are honored that you returned to join us here.”
“I thank you for your welcome my five monks, but I am no longer Siddhartha. That is no longer my name.”
“What Name should we call you by?”
“The whole world is asleep in ignorance and when we discover the truth we are no longer asleep. We are awake. Awakened Ones are called Buddha.”
Slowly the scene faded as Altair gazed upon the Buddha, standing in front of him, with great love and respect.
“O Buddha, teach us what you have learned so that we too may awaken.”
“What do you want to do with your life?” asked the Buddha.
“Free all beings from pain and suffering,” said Altair.
The Buddha looked at Altair calmly. “Then your wish will be fulfilled.”
The earth trembled and Light radiated from the Buddha’s body illuminating the three thousand worlds as they were made visible to Altair.
He put out his hand and placed it gently on Altair’s chest, just above the heart.
Altair’s body became immovable, as if was rooted to the road to Sarnath. He suddenly felt more alive than he ever had before.
And he drew no breath at all.
He felt the people moving past him on the street, saw the hand that was placed on his heart extend out to touch the hearts of five more hearts and then they reached out to touch five more. The blood that flowed through those hearts was like an inward flow of nectar, a never ending stream.
Suddenly Altair’s breath returned. The Buddha and Manjushri were standing motionless in front of him. Altair reached out his hands and placed them in theirs.
“I am from Vimala,” said Manjushri, “and I can also grant you a wish.”
“I want to learn how to be the embodiment of prajna or transcendent wisdom.”
“Then I can grant you Universal Sight, and the first Sign will be when you are given a real Chintamani Stone, a Pearl of Light, manifested from the Heart of Guan Yin. You have been an acolyte of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Guan Yin, which is why you are attracted to the teachings of the Dalai Lama, whom you died defending in 1959. The second Sign will be when you have a direct experience of the Pure Light of Being through the Kalachakra Tantra with the Dalai Lama. The third Sign will be when you manifest the Rainbow Body, a body of pure light.”
“Like Long Nu.”
“Yes, you were a naga too, a dragon’s daughter, just like her. When it is time, you will also offer the Pearl back to the Buddha, which will symbolize surrendering your life and ego to All, and He will accept it.”
The Buddha looked at Altair directly.
“Here at Sarnath I turned twelve wheels of Dharma …
Keep in mind this most beautiful wood,
named by the great rishi,
where ninety-one thousand kotis of Buddhas
formerly turned the Wheel.
This place is matchless, perfectly calm,
contemplating, always frequented by deer.
In this most beautiful of parks,
whose name was given by the rishi,
I will turn the holy Wheel.
Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there I AM”
Altair travelled south towards Bihar before he stopped at Yogananda’s foundational ashram and school for Kriya Yoga. While he was waiting he heard two monks arguing. They were having a disagreement about administrative matters and how many foreigners they should allow to stay at the ashram. Altair suddenly felt very lonely. It was near Christmas and he missed his mother Mary. He walked down the dusty street towards a hotel one of the nuns had recommended.
“$1 for your shoes,” said a voice.
He turned to see an old man, a beggar, holding out an Indian 1 rupee note.
“No thank you,” said Altair.
“I can take you to see Sadhu.”
Altair had heard some of the miraculous stories of these holy men.
The old man held out dirty fingers expecting something in return.
Altair dug into his pocket and pulled out a wrinkled fifty rupee note.
The old man grinned a toothless grin before gesturing for Altair to follow him down a narrow side road.
Altair walked a long way through the countryside. His pack was not that heavy but he wished he had dropped it off at the hotel first and he hadn’t made a booking yet. The sun was still some way off from setting but Altair was calculating how long it would take him to get back when they turned a tight curve in the road and arrived at a grassy knoll with a large round rock at its base. In front of it was an old man painted in grey and yellow with a large red bindu on his forehead and a white loincloth. Other than that he seemed to have no possessions.
The toothless man left them at that point. Altair had no idea how he was going to return or whether they had some agreement once they had finished so he sat down at the Sadhu’s feet and bowed.
“What do you want to see? You ask and I will do it. I can lift this rock with my mind.”
The Sadhu closed his eyes momentarily and to Altair’s utter amazement the rock in front of them which was the size of a small man shifted upwards from the earth a few degrees.
Altair opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again.
The Sadhu opened his eyes when there was no sound in response and he gazed directly at Altair.
“What do you want?”
Altair still didn’t speak.
“Ah you are a seer.”
“I am walking the path of magic and the stars,” said Altair.
“Yes, a seer,” said the Sadhu. “What do you seek?”
“To help free those that are bound, to help those that are suffering to find peace.”
“Ah then you are a Buddha too,” said the Sadhu. “And you love Krishna.”
“What do you want?” said Altair.
“Nothing I don’t already have,” said the Sadhu waving his hand around at the hills and countryside surrounding them. “What can you tell me?”
Something moved inside Altair like a compass finding its home. His mind began to settle. His body became the Sadhu’s body and the 7 interior stars or chakras lit up like flowers in flames and then danced like planets orbiting a central sun, the heart. Altair watched the inner universe unfold, his breathing reaching a calm rhythm, content to know the universal dance would reveal something soon. Then he saw it, like a twinkle in his mind’s eye.
“You are a fierce man, dynamic, thirsty for life’s experiences, I see you yoking horses, strong beautiful horses. You are very headstrong. You are quite playful and childlike and honor Shiva daily. You are deeply connected to Surya the Sun. You used to be a divine mystical doctor before you became a sadhu. You have the power and shakti to quickly heal. You are a physician of the gods. You bring youth to the old and life to the dead. You raised the rock by harnessing the forces of prana, the life force. You are here alone because you are stubborn and also because you had a disappointment in life earlier on in marriage. However you have been able to let all that go now. So there is content.”
“There is a ghost.” Altair hesitated.
“There are many ghosts in these parts.”
The hesitancy dissipated with the sun. The sun was so low Altair realized it would soon be dark. He did not want to walk back alone.
“I have to go.”
As if by magic his toothless guide reappeared grinning widely and holding out an empty palm. Altair reached into his pocket and pulled out another fifty rupee note. He turned to the Sadhu.
“It is I who must thank you. What you told me…”
“I do have one question for you. How did you move the rock?”
“The same way you move the stars,” said the Sadhu.
Altair was sitting out on the terrace of what was called ‘The Royal Terrace’ in the City of the Octagon in the far south of the Land of the Long White Cloud, his homeland. He had finished his tour of Asia and Oceania and seen and worked at some of the best schools that area of the world had to offer, from Krishnamurti to Gandhi, Yogananda to Rabindranath Tagore, Tibetan Buddhist to Siddha Yoga, Sri Aurobindo to Steiner and Montessori. He had decided as a result of his tour to train in the teaching of performing arts for children. He kept watching the sky and imagined distant stars whirling overhead in slow motion, his eyes tearing up with the patterns of light unfolding in his vision. Murray, a devotee of Ramana Maharshi was encouraging Altair to devote his life to Self Realization which he maintained was the best way to serve the world. Altair had a busy day lined up tomorrow, with two televised performances of ‘Aladdin’ as Aladdin, and then a televised performance for Dance Arts so he wanted to get to bed early, soon after dinner. Laurie was cooking, and she was singing, a habit most of Altair’s flatmates took to often. Cat and Bridget were musicians too so it was a very laid back musical type of gathering they always had together. It was not uncommon for Bridget to sing all the way through dinner, chomping on her organic veges in between singing about lost love or how nature was suffering under men’s hands. However as he headed back down the hallway to his bedroom there was no one else there apart from Laurie.
“Hi Laurie?” said Altair. “How’s Pamela?”
“Good,” said Laurie, not raising her head up from the broccoli and mushroom dish that she was stirring as it steamed vigorously. “We’re going out to a movie tonight so I won’t be around for long.”
“No worries,” said Altair. “I’ll clean up…”
He turned into the hallway to see a bearded man dressed in black, wearing a tall black hat, a black cloak and a military uniform staring at him.
“Hey!” said Altair in shock. “What are you doing?”
The man, who was well over six feet tall ran straight towards Altair’s room and through the door.
That’s funny, thought Altair trying to gather his thoughts, I’m sure I locked that door this morning.
“Hey Laurie, call the Police!” Altair shouted. “We’ve got an intruder!”
Altair ran to his room, which was locked, and when he opened it he looked around and saw only the barred windows which would stop anyone from jumping through and onto the concrete two stories below. He ran out again and called back to Laurie on a hunch.
“Laurie call the landlord instead!”
Laurie was watching him wide-eyed as he entered the kitchen and handed him the phone.
“Yes?” A deep male voice sounded on the other end.
“Hello, it’s Altair here from across the road in the Royal Terraces. Look, something strange happened today, I’ve just got home and as I was making my way down the hall to my bedroom I saw a tall man…”
“About six feet tall or so dressed all in black?”
“Six feet? Dressed in black?” Altair couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“You should come right over. I’ve got something to show you.”
Altair hurried over after telling Laurie he might be late for dinner.
“Have a seat,” said the Landlord once Altair had come in and followed him to the lounge.
“Have a look at this.”
The Landlord flipped open an old photo album until he came to a well-worn page and pointed to a black and white photo.
“Is this the man?”
And there he was, the tall bearded man in the black hat, dark eyes staring. Straight back at Altair.
Altair was stunned. “But…how?”
“You are the third person in one hundred years to have seen him. Same fellow, tall, bearded, black hat, dressed in a military uniform with a cloak. He fought in a war all those years ago when medical technology was a lot rougher than it is now. They had to bring him back here, on a ship, after he was shot in the leg. They tried to amputate but he lost too much blood. In your very room. In those days it used to be a hospital and your room was a surgical operating room. So, sadly he didn’t survive. And must be very pissed about it because he is still hanging around all these years later. Not sure what you can do. Say a prayer. Maybe.”
So Altair did.
And the ghost never bothered him again. Altair dealt with the ghost in the same way Jesus had taught him to deal with demons.
Very clear confident intention and surrender to the power of love and God to intervene and do whatever was necessary to free and liberate this soul.
“By the power of Christ begone.”
And so it was.
Because with the power of love and faith anything can be accomplished.
Altair was witnessing the power of love and faith in the flow of life manifesting all around him.
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
This little passage from Matthew was such a treasure of wisdom Altair could scarcely believe it was not being taught at the highest levels of all business and education.
He could see how anything he truly believed and wished with deep pure intention was coming true.
His path of magic and the stars was even revealing itself through his friends. One night he was talking about love and friendship with his best friend BB and suddenly he disappeared into a star that appeared in her eye and she disappeared into his. They were both shocked and wondered how many other portals like this would appear when love was present.
Dreams and visions were not something out there and untouchable but were an intrinsic part of the fabric of reality. Along with imagination, dreams and visions were yogic siddhis or powers that with practice through meditation could become the foundations of our actions and Signs along our path.