My teacher and friend Tara Singh was in my life for about ten years. I lived close to him for one year. He left me many questions burning up in my heart. That is the blessing of such a person. A person without crudeness and free of myopia. He signed his letters: “Affectionately.” There was nothing pretentious or vain about him.
He didn’t go to school until he was 9 and then only for a couple years. In his early 20s, with a knowledge of the alphabet, there from childhood, he started to read. He read Hafiz and Rumi in Iran and Whitman, Thoreau, Emerson and Lincoln in America. He read very slowly. Not passing over one word until it was deeply understood.
He helped write the Indian constitution. He corresponded with and met Buckminster Fuller and Pearl Buck, the American Nobel laureate in literature, was his writing teacher in New York for a while. He helped organize a trip to India for the United States First Lady Eleonar Roosevelt. Prime Minister Nehru sent him to Russia and America to learn the impact of industrialization on economies.
He was as much moved by a giggling child and a weed as he was by his association, in his early years, with Gandhi. Gandhi would not hurt another.
As a child he was free to spend a lot of time with animals. Not computer games. He developed a great reverence for nature and the beauty of contemplation. It was instilled in him to treasure the dawn, the ocean, the human being.
Two years ago, in the course of travels, I heard the phrase: “I do not live at the level of the placebo.” For two years, like a detective looking at the nature of sickness and upset, I looked at this word “placebo.”
It takes twenty seconds to find its meaning in a dictionary or an etymological dictionary. It means, etymologically, “I shall please.”
I just looked at that word and nothing else for two years. Life went on. Desires were not ignored and challenge was not risen to. But, in a sense, I couldn’t do anything else.
And two other things were there: my earlier teacher had asked:
What did you learn that you did not learn from another? You cannot google who can loan you ten thousand dollars…you cannot understand what trust is, from a definition. And then one day, in a flash, I understood the story of Parzival, the knight.
Perhaps, very few people might understand this post. Maybe a handful. And yet, its meaning is a gift for all mankind, if we were but to look at insecurity and upset in ourselves.
Intelligence means “to read between the lines of thought.”
You cannot read, you cannot listen, if you have not prepared the soils of your attention so that the ears to hear may flower.