From This Sleep

[Listen to Asha read this story]

(Told by an Ananda devotee)

It was mid-afternoon and I had just arrived in Europe from America. Dinner with Swamiji and other friends was set for a few hours later, so I went to my room to rest and freshen up. When evening came, however, and I was supposed to be ready to go out, I was sound asleep in a chair. I had sat down for “just a moment,” but jet lag overcame me and now I was dead to the world.

When I didn’t show up as scheduled, Swamiji came to find me. Seeing me sound asleep, he began gently stroking my cheek with one finger, his touch as light as a feather. There are many ways to wake a person, but I can’t imagine one more considerate than the way Swamiji chose. Ever since then, when the occasion arises, I awaken people this way. I will never forget the feeling of gradually being drawn back to this world by that gentle gesture.

In itself, it was a trivial event, but it affected me deeply. It seemed to epitomize years of friendship and loving guidance from Swamiji—calm acceptance of our weaknesses, willingness to work with us as we are, a remarkable sensitivity to the needs of the moment, and the patient application of kindness and respect in all circumstances.

Swamiji’s life is rich with profound incidents; I have witnessed many of them. Yet one of my most precious memories is how he took such care in waking up a friend when nothing more was at stake than going out to dinner.

“Omnipresence,” Swamiji said, “encompasses not only the infinite, but also the infinitesimal.”

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