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Growing Gratitude, 2015

The Meeting of the Wheelchairs

Hari Prasada Das


Following the first day of our first corporate workshop at The Bhakti Center where I lived three of my five monastic years, I took a walk to the East River. Exhausted and excited by the day’s events, I now needed to catch up on my rounds of japa meditation.

As I strolled alongside the river, I felt the intense energy of jogger after jogger slugging it out on the boardwalk. One came up next to me artfully directing a soccer ball as he ran. One eagerly preceded her dog after throwing him a treat. Couples sweated together. Men without shirts panted triumphantly. The sun was setting but the energy was unwavering.

I felt a bit strange to be a meditator trying to receive something while the world pushed itself in utmost exertion around me. Perhaps one day, I’ll return in my jogging shoes to see life from the other side...

When the sun was finally hidden and the waters reflected the city lights, a sudden calm overtook the area. Just then I saw from the corner of my eyes a wheelchair pull up rapidly. The lady pulled up to an empty table to rest there. And then I saw that another wheelchair crept up beside hers. A man perched himself at her table and she began to set out napkins and plastic It was a picnic overlooking the East River. And a more serene scene, I could not have designed. It melted my heart.

I was accustomed to being envious of such serene scenes but this one stopped me in my tracks. I felt the envy, but it didn’t have a hold on me, as I made a conscious decision to arrest the usually unconscious envy, and allow the beauty of the scene to sweep over me.

There is such capacity for grace within each of us waiting to manifest outwardly. Such opportunity to share affection and to see ourselves in divine connection. Rather than seeing what someone else is experiencing and scheming it for ourselves, might we simply admire it and allow ourselves to be touched instead?

This is my personal battle, and at least on this little occasion as I observed the meeting of the wheelchairs, with a little help from beyond myself, I think I won!

When have you been irked by someone’s good experience, wishing you could have it for yourself? What would that scene look like to you if you were to take yourself out of the equation for fullest appreciation?

Hari Prasada Das

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