The Time my 6-year-old Sister Met Neem Karoli Baba
One time my mom was given a book about a mysterious enlightened wise-man who lived in India. The cover of the book showed a very kind man wrapped in a checkered blanked with a smile that radiating unconditional well-being. The book was a collection of short stories from his life, told through the words of many of the people who had come in contact with his radiant love and mystical powers. I would listen on the sofa as my mom would read excerpts out loud to my dad. I was curiously fascinated by Neem Karoli Baba's kind loving personality, and from the stories that were told of him, it seemed he liked children and would often present them with oranges from underneath his blanket that he always wore like a shawl. It seemed he could magically produce oranges at will, manifesting them from thin air. How was such a thing possible I wondered? Did such magic actually exists?
Such siddhi powers have often been described in accounts of mystical sages and those who have arrived at deep level of enlightenment. Such phenomena were reported to follow Neem Karoli Baba wherever he went. They often happened in subtle ways as if they were simply the unconcerned byproduct of his state of loving awareness. It was said he was always at the right place at the right time, he often understood people's unspoken thoughts, he could speak to people through photographs of himself, and he had even been seen in multiple locations at the same time. In every photo of him he seemed to be smiling. In his life he took little possessions and lived the spirit of forgiveness even to those who had tried to harm him.
My younger sister had an interesting beleif when she was about seven that she had met Neem Karoli Baba. I don't mean in some past lifetime, but in the flesh in our childhood home. -In broad daylight. She said that he had come into the home one day and played with her when Mom was busy washing dishes in the other room. My mom has always been the type to validate our childhood interpretations of reality, so she would say, “Sure you did!” and would listened receptievely to my little sisters account. I was more skeptical, but the truth was, I could see that my sister wasn't just lying for the sake of lying. I could see in her eyes that she believed it. Honestly, I was a bit jealous that I hadn't also met this special mystical man.
“So your saying you saw him for real?” I asked, “Then what did he look like?”
“Yes I really saw him! He had a longish spindly beard. Kind of gray.”
“-But the real Neem Karoli didn't have much of a beard,” I said, testing her. After all, I had seen what he looked like from the cover of the book and the pictures inside. “How did you know it was him?”
“I just knew it!” insisted my sister glaring at me. She didn't like it that I wasn't validating her interpretation of reality.
“But Neem Karoli Baba is dead now!” I said seizing upon an irefutable fact.
My mom cut in, “-Wait a minute. Who are we to say that Lupe didn't see him? If its real for her, then its real.”
After all, wasn't the old sage suppose to be a mystical guy with powers?
“Yeah!” insisted Lupe.
The way Lupe told it, Neem Karoli Baba had come into the house wearing a small belly-pack of toys which he let her play with. Lupe described the toys: “They where the those miniature toy airplanes and helicopters.. ya know.. the same very ones that Grandma had, remember?”
It was funny, because I knew exactly the what toys she was talking about.
In my adult life I returned to this incident many times, asking my sister to re-tell her account, and even though she often laughs in off humorously she maintains that something did occure. She had some type of experience of which she took to be real, even if she doesn’t understand what that really was. Then she'll often say, “Oh I was just a kid though .. ya know.. don't believe me.. cause kids are stupid, ya know!”
I know she's only saying that to so that people won't think she's strange or crazy. After all, if others don't validate our experiences of reality, then we often tell ourselves it never happened.
I personally think it's very well that she did indeed meet Neem Karoli Baba. If he was able to manifest in multiple locations at once, produce food, and telepathically speak through photographs, then why not manifest years after his recorded death as a bearded man with a belly-pack of toys. Actually now that I even write those words, I actually think that sounds like exactly something he would do (I mean seriously, a bally-pack?! Thats a perfect touch!). He'd probably have a mischievous loving smile on his face knowing how much confusion it causes us to not know the real answer. -And here's the thing, I almost don't even think it matters if he did or didn't actually show up in the flesh or not. Even if it was just a projection of Lupe's thinking, it still has the same effect.
One time back on the sofa when my mom was reading the book, she stuck her finger in the page and looked up to ask me: “well what do you think of this Neem Karoli fellow?”
Without thinking too hard I said, “is he even a real person? … hmm.. I think maybe he's only real in our minds.”
My mom smiled and patted my head, so proud of my accidentally so-spiritual answer. After all, reality is just an illusion, right?