by Acarya Vimaleshananda Avadhuta
It was morning and I was walking my bicycle on a busy road of New York. Nothing in my mind, just avoiding to bump into somebody with the bicycle. Suddenly one person approached me and asked if I knew Krsna Das. It happened that the night before he gave a concert and she was there. I could not answer. Somehow I thought of Ram Das and I kept quite. She went on for at least 20 minutes complaining how people has no more time to listen. I was caught and I didn’t want to contradict her. I simply mentioned that love is all there is, that is the meaning of Baba Nam Kevalam universal mantra. Eventually she got the desire to have a coffee and I continued walking my bicycle. She was very grateful that I spent some time with her and me too.
It is worth mentioning that the day before monks and nuns of Ananda Marga had a meeting in which they resolved to start a service project dedicated to help the homeless people. I saw a person begging with a small cardboard which was mentioning briefly her family situation – four kids and no job. I sat by her . She asked me money and I replied – I don’t have money to give you. She told me that she went to ask help to the churches and she received any. We got familiar and she was speaking fluently French and other languages. Two weeks she arrived in New York – hardship to pay the rent. I was hungry . I mentally decided to share my food with her and I asked her if she wanted something to eat.
Rice and chicken – she told me – you can go to the cart in the street while I continue to stay here. I went and I asked to the cart owner if he had something vegetarian. I bought rice and falafel which is a rather delicious middle eastern chick pea preparation. I returned to the spot and I offered the whole dish to her.
Where is the chicken? She complained. I tried to explain that I was vegetarian and I could not eat meat. She took a bite and she gave me the whole plate. I can’t eat it – it is for you. I was still eating when one woman stopped in front of us and started complaining that she had to look for a job. She continued that it was not good for anybody that she was begging in the street. Soon after that she went away my new friend left to get the rice and chicken and she gave me her sparkling water. I remained there until I finished the last grain of rice and then I took again to walk my bicycle.
In a shop there was a man sitting behind a small table with a book . Behind there were distributing food for those in need. No space for sitting and few people in the line. I asked if I could talk about the service they were doing. No talk – was the curt reply – sign with your name and get the food. So I did and I got a small bag with a packed portion of rice and vegetables. A lady offered me a cup of apple juice and I really appreciated it. I continued to walk my bicycle with the bag hanging on the handle.
I was in front of a church and I locked my bicycle to the rail. As I was entering a tall figure was on a cell exiting the church in order to talk without disturbing those who were praying inside. I decided to talk with him and ask what can be done to help the homeless people. The person was there by chance but he had experience of service and he gave me his business card. I returned inside to do some meditation. Really that question was pounding in my mind. What can be done to help the homeless?
Day after I was on the way to a small meditation and yoga retreat organized by Ananda Marga near the Ocean in Delaware. The place was not in the bicycle range and there was not a schedule for a bus. Yet I was confident that I could reach there. Local buses often require the exact change and I had a 20 dollar bill. I started to ask to shops and bystanders to change in smaller notes. First i got into tens. Then into fives. Then into ones and finally into quarters. It took me half an hour running from one person to another and at the end of the chore I sat on the bench by a person in short pants with a veteran cap. He was waiting for the same bus.
I never had the opportunity to talk with a veteran before and listen firsthand their war stories. It was the first time and I could not believe my hears. Horrible stories. We sat close in the bus and I had chance to share more. When we reached destination he departed and I remained in the bus station which was open air. A person with a bag came over and offered me sandwiches – peanut butter and jelly was the vegetarian choice. I accepted the offer and I was ready to pay when I realized that he was distributing for free. I asked if it was his personal initiative or he was volunteering for an organization. He was a member of a church and he invited me to the services later in the evening. I could not stay that long but I appreciated and I walked away to find a spot for meditating and eating.
A person called me and indicated me to go in one place to get good cheap food. I went that direction and I didn’t find the place. There was an health fair and I got water . I went further and I found a gazebo by the hospital which was ideal for meditating. After eating I went back and I met that same person. Did you find the place? They have good food! I sat with him on the platform . I need a miracle suddenly told me. He was obviously homeless. I opened my bag and I took out my bamboo flute. I started playing and when I finished he told me – You have filled my soul. He was happy and me too.
Sometimes I wander why homeless people are so kind and generous with those who recognize as their kins. I love to be with them and to share their simple hearts. I wander if it is enough service to be with them without expectations, sharing what we wish to share without any further intention. My love is their love and my God is their God . Maybe we will not get on the news or we will not be able to make a project but we have shared like true human beings. And these memories are enough to fill my soul for a while.