There is a well-known story told in India that describes how an imprisoned man was forewarned of life-threatening danger after hearing one line uttered by a saint. Walking past the gathered crowd, he had only heard the sentence “Goddesses never cast shadows!”
When later tricked with a fake goddess by the jailer to prove his guilt, he remembered the one line. This following incident is my “Goddesses never cast shadows” moment. It is not a parable from Indian folklore, but a life-transforming moment in real time.
I had been fortunate to meet Prem Rawat in India when he was only 11 years old. I was present at Heathrow Airport when he arrived from India two years later on 17th June 1971 and accompanied him to all of his events in the UK for the month that he stayed until leaving for the USA. I stood next to him on the first Pyramid Stage when he spoke at Glastonbury on June 21, only four days after arriving in the west.
After running out of money to pay the rent on the property we had located in the fashionable Chelsea district of London, we could only offer accommodation in our volunteer community house in the less affluent area of Golders Green in North London. Instead of expressing disappointment, the young Prem Rawat was excited to move into a three-bedroom house already overcrowded with his enthusiastic students. A room was made ready for him.
“I have always loved wisdom stories
ever since my grandmother sat me
on her knee as a small child.
On the first night, a host of young hippies gathered in the downstairs front room in the hope of hearing Prem speak. I was upstairs with him in his bedroom when he asked me to go down and speak to everyone about my understanding of Self-Knowledge. He declared that he might attend the gathering himself later. It was with trepidation that I spoke as I was aware that Prem could hear every word as clearly as my audience in the room.
I have always loved wisdom stories ever since my grandmother sat me on her knee as a small child and read to me from her picture Bible. In India, I had heard so many from Prem and the older students who had been alive at the time of Prem’s father and teacher, Shri Maharaj Ji. I cherished these tales and had committed many to memory. As I spoke, I embellished my talk with a few such tales. In mid-flow, Prem walked into the room and sat next to me in a vacant chair. I stopped speaking.
“Finish the story you are telling,” he instructed with a smile directed straight at me.
I completed my story quickly and joined the others to listen to Prem. He looked straight at me and said, “I have a story just for you.”
It went like this.
Two followers of an Indian saint were given one of those old-fashioned tests. The saint sat on a platform in a field. He scattered the field with broken glass and instructed his two passionate acolytes to come to him. One ran in bare feet and collapsed in pain before halfway there. The other knelt on the grass and crawled through the glass-strewn field, picking the broken shards out of the way.
No explanation was given for the story.
Prem continued to address the full audience. I didn’t need the explanation. All my life I had been impulsive by nature, rushing in where angels fear to tread, as the saying goes. After listening to Prem’s story, I resolved to pick my way much more carefully through life and stop cutting the Gordian Knot with a blow of a sword. I mix metaphors, but I think you get the point.
That deep insight into my nature from the wisest person I have ever met has saved me from trouble again and again. Just one story. Imagine the benefits I have received from the countless times I have heard Prem Rawat speak over the last 54 years. Wisdom is very precious.