inexplicable occurrences in the great drama of life
"I was granted a brief respite by the appearance of a middle-aged Australian vagabond named Arnold, who had been to India many times before, but had returned this spring not out of personal desire, but instead to search for his older brother, who had disappeared without a trace a number of months earlier. I was glad to have Arnold’s company, but sad for him because of his almost certain loss. He and I spent a few days together, going around to travel agents, shopkeepers, and government offices, distributing his brother’s photo and description, though we both had little hope that the search would turn out favorably. For the most part we simply hung out together, and found communion in that foreign land from which neither of us had any idea when we would leave.
Arnold was a brilliant talker, when his mind turned away from its sorrows. He was the type of guy who had read so much, thought so much, and conversed so much, that he was a neverending wellspring of fringe concepts, obtuse understandings, and esoteric tales. And it was a fabulous treat for me to be amongst a member of my tribe, and to sit back and listen to his assimilations, evocations, and conclusions about life and why it is the way it is.
And yet, of all the things about which he spoke during our days together, the stories of his brother were the most interesting to me, because, from Arnold’s point of view, his brother was no less than a mukta- a God-knower. Albeit, his brother was a God-knower who had earned his daily bread by smuggling a half-kilo of hash out of India, rolled up in five gram balls, wrapped in cellophane, and swallowed into his stomach, every time he ran out of cash. But he was a God-knower nonetheless. And although I never met Arnold’s brother, and cannot confirm his spiritual constitution, I can declare, from Arnold’s descriptions of him, if nothing more, that I was hearing about one of a rare breed of individuals on this earth. Which is to say, I was hearing about …a man. And by that I mean, I heard of an individual who lived without fear, without shame, without guilt, and without self-denial. And such descriptions in Arnold’s stories about him kept me ever present in our lengthy conversations.
Half a year later I had returned to Canada, and had lost Arnold’s address, which was very disappointing to me because I not only enjoyed his company, and hoped to see him again someday, but I also wanted to find out if he was ever successful at uncovering clues as to his brother’s whereabouts. Luckily the spirit runs thicker sometimes than others, and connections intended to be made are never lost. In this case, while I was in Canada, Arnold ran into my father, who was in India at the time, although they had never previously met nor seen pictures of each other. They happened to be in the same area, in a town in a northern Indian valley and Arnold “Just picked him out as a traveling Canadian”- as he wrote to me later- at which point he approached my father, and asked if he, my father, was who Arnold thought he was- and through their serendipitous, implausible meeting, Arnold and I were reconnected.
These types of magical non-coincidences happen, though generally for reasons beyond our ken, but to be sure, the universe is alive, and conscious, and fully aware of every grain of sand in the cosmic ocean of life."