Have you ever seen a snapshot of a child and wondered what happened to him later in life? Well, then, here is the rest of the story for one young boy. And although it may not be factual, it is true. In fact, it is the rest of the story for all of us.
Swami Kriyananda told us the tale of a boy who came to a saint and asked to become his disciple. The holy man said, “Come with me,” and took him down to the river Ganges. He proceeded to hold the boy’s head under the water, until the boy began kicking furiously. Still he held him under, until the lad was struggling with all his strength to break free. Finally he let him up.
Then he asked the boy, “What did you want just now, more than anything else?” The gasping boy replied, “AAir, AAAir!!!” The saint replied, “When you want God as much as you wanted air, come back, and I’ll accept you as my disciple.”
But here is what happened next, or at least I like to think so: The boy, whose name was Anand, left feeling angry at the saint, and a little ashamed at his own weakness. As the years passed and the incident faded to a dim memory, Anand still thought about God, but never seemed able to find any time to spare for Him. For you see, Anand had become so successful that he was the envy of the nation. He had a wonderful family, a fine reputation, and more wealth and more possessions than he could ever use.
As happens for all of us, time passed, and now it was nearly two years since his wife had died. His children were grown and living abroad, and Anand’s life had settled into a routine that began to grow tiresome. One day, in a pensive mood, he started to think, “I have everything anyone could want, except happiness.” Then, remembering his youth, he thought, “I wonder what became of that saint who held my head in the Ganges?”
He discovered that the saint had become quite famous, due to a miraculous power: Although he was usually seen in the river, praying and giving counsel, he occasionally left the water and wandered through the region. At these times his simple dhoti always remained wet even under the blazing sun, as did his skin. And whenever a drop of that water fell upon some fortunate onlooker, that person received an instant healing.
Anand decided to visit him once again. When he arrived at the river he was astounded to see that the saint not only hadn’t aged at all, but was standing in exactly the same spot where he had first seen him some fifty years earlier.
Anand approached shyly, and said, “I came to you many years ago, but you probably don’t remember me.”
The saint began to weep, and softly replied, “Oh, my son, my very own, you’ve finally returned. I have waited for you all these years, praying that you would come back to me.”
Anand, now weeping too, said, “I realized finally that I do want God more than I want air. You can hold my head under the water for as long as you like, even if I die.”
The saint laughed and said, “What good would it do to kill your body? You would simply come back again. I want to help you destroy your ego. The Ganges, you see, is only a symbol of the energy in the inner spine. I’ll teach you techniques that will allow you to submerge yourself in those sacred waters. Then you will find a fulfillment that all those paltry possessions could never give.”
And so, this is the rest of the story for each of us. Somewhere, our master is waiting. When we begin to want God more than we want air, we will return to him, and he will immerse us in that true Ganges which will carry us into the ocean of bliss.