We were staying at this hotel in Bombay, and Maharaji would come to see us, or we would go to this apartment building in Bombay where this devotee and his married daughter lived.
There was a big bed in the living room and Maharaji would lie down on the bed. He’d sit up, he’d lie down, he’d turn over, he’d lie this way and that; hours would go by in silence and I’d just sit there staring at him, or sit there with my eyes closed. And nothing would be talked about, we’d just hang around.
Two years before, he had disappeared and when he would disappear, the Westerners would go do other things in India until he showed up again. This time when he disappeared we went to Bodh Gaya and were doing meditation courses. What else do you do when your guru’s not around? There were only two television channels at the time, so we had to do something.
While we were there, we visited this beautiful, very old lama, who was the teacher of the Dalai Lama’s teachers. He was a very respected, old lama. And he was really special. We went to see him in his room. He was very sweet to us, and he tried to give us a mantra. But he had no teeth. So he’d mumblingly repeat the mantra. And then, we would repeat it back – well, we didn’t know what we were repeating over and over again. It was so insane. Finally, he got somebody to write it down for us.
So, as we were leaving, he reached into his shirt and he brought out his really old leather pouch. And he opened it up, and out from the pouch he took a seed from the Bodhi Tree that he’d been carrying, a special seed from the tree in Bodh Gaya where the Buddha was enlightened. So this was a seed from that tree, and he had it in his pouch. And he takes it out, and gives one to me and one to a couple of other people there.
I went to put it away, to keep it. And he said, “No, you have to eat it.” So I ate it, right there – and I forgot about it. Then I left Bodh Gaya, and then we found Maharaji. Two years go by. Now I’m in Bombay in this Parsi apartment building with Maharaji, sitting for hours and hours in silence, and all of a sudden he sits up on the bed and said, “Give me the seed the lama gave you! Give me the seed!”
“What lama? What seed? I don’t know what lama!”
“Give me the seed, give me the seed!”
It seemed so important to him; I couldn’t remember what lama – I had seen a hundred lamas over the years. What seed – I didn’t know any seeds. Finally: Oh, that! I said, “Maharaji, he made me eat it then, at that time.” He goes, “Thik hai, very good, now you’ll be enlightened,” and he bopped me on the head and went back to sleep.
– Krishna Das
Excerpt from Barefoot in the Heart: Remembering Neem Karoli Baba, edited by Keshav Das
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