At a certain phase of my life, when I was desperately planning my escape from a city many would give their eye teeth (whatever that means!) to enjoy (Manhattan), I worked for a posh law firm and took every opportunity for overtime that I could, hoping to pay down my big fat mortgage, sell my adorable apartment, and flee to the Himalayas. One of my favorite lawyers to work for was the powerful head of the Real Estate Division and a multi-millionaire many times over. During our post-midnight stints as he churned documents out and I whipped them into shape, he had let slip that as a young idealist he had dreamed of wandering India, ancient land of sacred cows and hoary temples, in quest of himself. But he had sold out when he won a scholarship to an ivy league outfit and even more when he had married a woman who wanted him to make more and more money so he could send their kids for horse-riding lessons and to vacations in Paris.
It must have been about 3 in the morning when my eyes fell on a photo on his desk. “Who’s that?” I asked, intrigued by the handsome and dashing figure of a young man dressed in fencing garb and brandishing a sword or whatever. He glared at me, offended. “That’s me,” he said. I laughed and shrugged, “how could I tell?” You have mask on.” But the truth was that that slender young man bore absolutely no resemblance to the pot-bellied rotund double-chinned bespectacled worry-wart before me.
We got back to our work, because he was anxious to clinch yet another deal so he could buy the new country home his wife had set her eyes on. But I could not stop thinking about the heavy price that young man had to pay for selling his soul for a mess of pottage—and, as a result, knowing I could well end up a weary cynical aged creature if I didn’t get quickly off the wheel, I was even more keen to escape.
Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a hill of fire and light, who vows to guide us out of the many labyrinths constructed out of human desire and fear and into a realm of eternal peace and bliss.