Monday, September 1, 2008

Gayatri Mantra and other coincidences

After the Boom festival, Daniella picked me up from the Santa Clara train station to take me back to the Quinta ranch. Along the way I told her all about the festival, finding it very difficult to summarize two days into a single car ride.

In my description of the gibberish meditation session I took part in, I gave Daniella an example because she wasn't quite sure what gibberish was. So I began to radomly rant in gibberish for few moments.

When I finished, Daniella looked over at me, a bit astouned. According to her, I had just unknowingly recited the begining lines of the Gayatri Mantra, a sacred religious chant common to Hinduism and Brahmoism. Here is the mantra in full:
oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
(a) tat savitur vareṇyaṃ
(b) bhargo devasya dhīmahi
(c) dhiyo yo naḥ prachodayāt

And in Devanagari, the most commonly used script of Sanskrit and Pali:
ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः ।
तत् सवितुर्वरेण्यं ।
भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि ।
धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ॥

The translation:
Let us adore the supremacy of that Divine Sun, the Godhead, who illuminates all, who recreates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understanding aright in our progress towards his holy seat.

I really don't know whether or not this was a coincidence, but I have recently encountered a number of very uncanny coincidences along the camino which seem to indicate some kind of greater energy connecting the universe, across boundaries of nation, race, religion, and other divisive categories.

One interesting coincidence came from a young German named Simon who left home by foot in early June and has hiked hundreds of kilometers to reach Spain. One night, Simon was staying in a church, and to bless the pilgrims, the priest invited them for a footwashing ceremony at the alter. Simon stood in line as the priest washed the feet of the first pilgrim, and then this first pilgrim washed the feet of the pilgrim behind him, and so on down the line. Simon, who does not believe in Jesus' divinity, ultimately felt skeptical about this ritual, and decided not to partake.

That night, before going to bed, Simon decided to flip open the bible for some bedtime reading. He began reading the first page he flipped open arbitrarily, John 13. To his surprise, and very much my own as well, Simon read the very chapter where Jesus washed his disciples' feet, and one of the disciples told Jesus he did not want to partake in the ritual. This disciple's name was Simon. Weird! Coincidence? Possibly. You decide.

THEN, a few nights ago in Logroño, I stayed at a free Albergue ("hostel") in a church. After dinner, the priest invited us to the absurdly elaborate, gold-altered church where he led us in a small blessing of the pilgrims. We want to revive an old tradition of the camino, he told us. Pilgrims from previous nights were asked to write small intentions, reflections, or prayers on a slip of prayer, color-coordinated by language. We, the pilgrims of the night, were to take one of these papers with us along the camino, and, in turn, were to write an intention/reflection/prayer and leave it behind for future pilgrims. I was very surprised indeed whe I picked up, at random, a slip of paper, handwritten by Kyle from Lubbock, Texs, that read:
That my father will find satisfaction;
That my mother will find courage;
That my brother will find wisdom;
That my sister will find happiness;
That I will find guidance.
Apparently Kyle and I both come from families of five of the same composition. My family has been on my mind lately since my sister's wedding is next month, and I found it rather interesting that this was the paper that I got. Coincidence? Possibly. You decide.

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