Gurus - Ari, the Buddha
by Dr. Nirja Chawla
Fact file:Ari is a modern-day Buddha, of Indian origin, now living in North America. He is one of the few enlightened mystics who has had many years of formal education in scientific thought from some of the
Many moons ago, I had an encounter with the centre of a hurricane.
I needed to explore professionals in a certain field, for some important work related to my daughter’s university education and career. Whoever I consulted mentioned only one name. This person, I was told, was highly sought after, and it was difficult to meet him in private. This person was ‘spiritual’, a friend’s husband informed me, and the best. Only the best would do for my child. So I found out his schedule and drove down to meet him at his place one afternoon.
When I reached there, I found a group of people engaged in a scientific discussion. As I approached them, the group collectively turned around towards me. Who is Ari among them, I wondered, as they all looked equally young! As they all looked at me in silence, one of them said softly, “Yes?” To this day, I can still touch that deep dense blankness which enveloped me. Can I touch or feel Nothingness? I felt it instantly, as his bottomless eyes looked deep into mine. That person was Ari Buddha.
Was it only a fraction of a minute that seemed to stretch endlessly into eternity? I have often wondered. With great difficulty, I tried to wrench my ‘lost’ mind back. The list of questions which I had prepared to grill and judge his professional expertise was irretrievable. After replying to my somewhat trivial question, he asked gently, “Anything else?” I simply shook my head mutely and left. The drive back home was in absolute silence. My daughter (who was with me throughout), didn’t reach for the car radio button, as was her wont on long drives. “Something happened to you too?” I asked her in wonderment. “Yes,” she whispered. We both had touched a very silent space, just by one look from Ari.
I never regretted my daughter’s academic interaction with Ari for the next few years. There could not have been another like him. He was absolutely brilliant. I don’t think it was simply the fact that Ari had outstanding academic qualifications.
|Whenever in doubt about anything, look for how an unconditioned animal would behave|
How did he manage this, I once asked him. “Your brain is mostly occupied with non-essential thoughts and therefore does not effectively function at its full capacity,” he said. “Besides minimal thoughts, this (his) brain has been re-wired through years spent in yoga, tantra, aghora and meditation, thus activating defunct neuronal networks and creating new shortcuts.”
He continued, “Our brain can and does work faster than the fastest computer, provided we avoid entanglements with non-utilitarian thoughts and mental structures like ego.” At another time he suggested that if I could be ‘thoughtless’ in terms of mental analysis and judgement, at the very instant perception and cognition occured, all my responses would be rooted in the higher brain function called intuition which is many times faster than ordinary mental processes of conscious logical reasoning.
Was it intuition that made him capable of reading a person’s future or the outcome of any meeting? “My brain processes the subtlest of signals, the slightest of pauses between spoken words, the minimal tightening of muscles in another person, and does not suppress higher brain functions with unnecessary thoughts. So, it is not difficult to predict the behaviour of unconscious people who are living under the influence of societal conditionings.”
Once, in one of our early meetings, he asked for my birthday. I told him the date, not the month. Is it April, he asked, to my amazement, because I knew that, involuntarily, as if with a mind of its own, my mind had mentalised April. He had picked up my thought! On another occasion, my daughter asked him to suggest a name for the pup he had gifted us. We had already decided on the name Leo, but none had mentioned it to him. Without hesitation, he said ‘Leo’. How did he know? “It’s a deep kind of empathy, whose details even my own mind does not need to understand,” he replied.
On my father’s death, amid the scores of relatives who descended on the house, I simply had no time to grieve. Next day I slipped away to the cremation ground and allowed the tears to fall next to the burning pyre of a man I loved very much. Seemingly cleansed, I went home. That night I happened to be alone and terrified by visions of ghosts laughing and screaming at my face. Petrified, I reached out to Ari mentally. Quietening down, I fell asleep. Next morning all seemed forgotten till Ari called to ask if all was well. Of course it was, since I had no recollection of the trauma of the night. Ari then went on to describe my nightmare exactly as it had happened. I knew then that somehow Ari had sensed my terror, reached out and blanked it. But he usually avoided my reference to such things and would comment only when I insisted, and that too in a way that obfuscated his mystique with apparent rationality.
In addition to the five senses in ordinary human beings, which were powerfully developed in Ari, he had an amazing sixth sense and even a seventh, a knowing much beyond. I can narrate many such incidents in my life where I found that Ari had many skills, which my limited, rational and conditioned mind could not comprehend. His sense of smell, sense of sight, sense of awareness, and intuition, appeared phenomenal to me.
Whenever I confronted him about such things, he would respond with that ‘fathomless look’ in his eyes, and change the topic, or just smile gently.
To meet and interact with him requires loads of courage. We all have such unconscious behaviour. Every inflection of the voice, a slight turn of head, and a little flaring of the nostril indicates our inner mind. Nothing escapes him. Our inners are not pretty. Ari’s immense gentleness and compassion has given me the courage to interact with him, and walk on the spiritual path he gently yet clearly indicates, by using his own life as an example. He is like a mother, a teacher like none other.
On one occasion, I got talking about the professional jealousies and manipulations at my workplace. He listened patiently through and then suddenly asked, “How old are you?” “27,” I answered. “And if a Master asks?” he said very quietly. “47,” I replied. Suddenly I saw him for what he actually was – a Master.
“Be my Master, make me your disciple,” I pestered him repeatedly. Finally, he relented. Oh, I could not contain my excitement and told him to hurry; I simply could not bear this waiting. He paused, but didn’t say anything. The acceptance was strange. He informed me he would be touching me only on my head. With my back to him, he touched my head and sniffed the back of my scalp for what seemed like a long time. Having satisfied himself, he said he would ‘teach’ me. Many years later, he explained that he was using his sense of smell to trigger his intuition, as he did not rely on his mind’s judgement in taking the responsibility to teach me.
Ari says that we can learn many things from animals, because we share a common evolutionary thread with them, and have many common genes. Unfortunately, we humans rely too much on the mind, having forgotten the use of our animal senses like the sense of smell.
His love for animals and trees is extraordinary. Being reclusive in nature, he shuns people and crowds, preferring animals for company. So much so that for several months after meeting him, I could not recall his face despite my best efforts. It possibly has something to do with his reclusive nature. He did not desire further contact, and since his is a No-Mind, every thought, even if it is a blocking thought, becomes powerful, pointed and focussed.
However, Ari loves animals, and animals seem to love him equally. Once a stray cat who visited my home often, became pregnant. I dearly wished for her to birth the kittens in my home. I could have helped her too since I was an extremely successful gynacologist. Ari bent down to the stray feline seemingly conversing with her. Straightening up he announced that Lucy, the cat, would probably not deliver in my home. Lucy delivered elsewhere. Ari considers animals to be in Tao, much more than humans. “Whenever in doubt about anything, look for how an unconditioned animal would behave.” Certainly, animals do not bother fooling themselves about their age, trees age gracefully and majestically, and none of them wears stilettos to work, and lipstick to bed. And they couldn’t be bothered whether the next tree is wearing bigger solitaire diamonds than yours. Most importantly they don’t think. They just are.
I have learnt so much from Ari, and life is so immensely beautiful. The freedom of simply being myself, not an extension of what people expect of me, is truly liberating. Yet the path of Ari is not easy. Loved ones fear losing a member to ‘religion’ or ‘spirituality’. “Help me,” I pleaded when faced with problems in daily living. “I’m not your agony aunt,” he brusquely replied. Then, more gently, “I can help smoothen out your spiritual path but I won’t interfere in matters that are not connected to spirituality.” “But you are my Master,” I would often argue. “I am not anyone’s Master. I’m simply Master of myself – my brain has mastered its own Buddha-nature,” he would reply.
Ari’s world is so fresh and original. I would hang onto every word he uttered because every word had a reason to be there. He never speaks anything without a reason, which one finds several months or even years later. He gave me a couple of books to read which I just played around with. One day, as I reclined on huge cushions on the carpet, a book open upside down on me and munched potato chips, I got a text message from Ari which read: “Don’t keep the book upside down on your chest. Read it.”
As I began seeking to quench an insatiable thirst directly from Ari, he pulled out a tablecloth and started dumping several books in it. “But I don’t want to read all this. I would rather hear what you have to say,” I protested. “I’m a very busy man. You have to know A, B, C….before I can teach you Z. Don’t seek me for the next one year till you have acquired a basic understanding of spirituality,” he replied sternly.
It hit me. I read like a mad woman, averaging one book every 2.5 days, despite my busy professional demands as a gynacologist by cutting down on sleep time to two to three hours a day. Within three months, I polished off more than a hundred books. I then called him to say that the task was done. This time now, whenever Ari spoke, I knew what he was talking about and his insistence that I acquire basic knowledge helped me jumpstart several years ahead. As I had learnt by now, I was dealing with a very wise man, with the infinite wisdom of the sun and the moon and the stars and skies.
Dr Nirja Chawla is a well
known gynaecologist, endoscopic surgeon
and infertility specialist from
Delhi, now based at Chandigarh,
India. After meeting Ari, from being immersed in the world and samsara, I began looking for the meaning of terms like No-Mind, Tao, Consciousness, Witness, Observer. Talking to Ari seemed so enthralling, riveting. It’s absolutely impossible to even blink, lest you miss a significant comma. Once he speaks, you are simply caught – like a fly in a spider’s web. And then begins one’s own journey to discovering one’s original face. Each time you find something, you discover that the mirror was held up by Ari. At moments like this, the tears fall of their own accord. How else would one show gratitude? My tears have probably created a new river, such is the immensity of this ‘Being’, Ari.
The first time I visited his home, his room betrayed no trace of the personality of the inhabitant. It was so striking that I couldn’t stop myself from commenting on it. On another occasion when I worried aloud whether the ocean of love washing over me was correct, he said, “Don’t worry. No one’s home here.” Meeting with Ari seemed to bring a kind of fulfilment and going away meant despair, desolation, hopelessness and intense pangs of separation. At the end of one visit, as I got up to leave reluctantly, without looking up from his lunch, he said abruptly, “Sit down.” I complied, wonderingly. Looking me directly in the eye, he said, very gently this time, “Now get up with a totality through all the cells of your body.” When I subsequently left a few moments later, I had, yet again, learnt another lesson – in Totality. That day I left nothing of myself behind when I got up to leave. I remember this every time I need to cut the immediate past and move into the present and then cut this very present and step into the next moment.
Ari has fascinating musical abilities. Without a formal training in music, he can play, by the ear, just about any musical instrument. His brain processes information so fast that his fingers seemingly automatically move to create the right musical notes. Watching him listen to any piece of music is a revelation in itself. He showed me once how mystical music is. We were at a dinner party and fortunately, Ari was placed just opposite me. The crooner began a song which was a favourite of his. As she began singing, I found it so beautiful that I gasped and became immersed in it. Time seemed to stand still. The music and I were one. There was nothing separate. I had never felt this way before. When the song was over, I sighed, “That was really beautiful.” Ari simply looked at me, in a mysterious kind of way.
He once chided me, “Don’t sit at the feet of the Buddhas; do something so you can sit next to them.”
My gratitude, Ari, for your immense compassion, gentleness, and love. And for catalysing a change within me from being ‘a special but unaware person’ to ‘an ordinary person learning awareness’ – as ordinary yet unique as every flower or tree or animal of this world.
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