The teachers at Jivamukti have been reading about one of the studio owners, Sharon, and how when she asked one of her first spiritual teachers how to attain enlightenment, his answer was she needed to first master cooking, cleaning, and gardening.
If I put all my hopes and dreams into such a question and received that answer, I’d be skeptical, disgruntled, and disappointed. For me, that translates into an obnoxious eyebrow raise and dramatic audible exhales. However, upon listening to the story a bit further, the teacher’s advice had to do with mastering the ordinary. It’s easy to forget about the ordinary when searching for the extraordinary, but to find the extraordinary, you have to be able to find it amongst the ordinary, mundane tasks of our everyday existence.
I had this story in mind while I sat down to inhale a burrito from Dos Toros in Union Square. Before taking my first bite, a young man reading in the corner, with five jackets on, and looking as if he hadn’t showered in two weeks, leaned over and pointed out an underlined sentence in his book. “Isn’t that incredible?” He asked. I didn’t really read it since I was a bit startled. My first impulse was annoyance. I really wanted to eat my food and not be bothered. But I took a step back, caught myself being judgmental, saw he wasn’t threatening in any which way, and opened to the situation. I asked what book he was reading.
We got into a long discussion in which he finally told me it was the first day of the new moon and asked what that meant, to me. I chuckled. He definitely opened the door of conversation with the right person. He told me how he found the book amongst a garbage pile, making it all the more special, because it found it’s way into his hands. “It was meant for me.” He’s been a ‘train jumper’ for years, making his way down to Florida, back up to the Carolinas, back to New York, and then he’ll make his way back to New Mexico where he farms.
I finished my food, we finished our conversation, and I told him it was nice to meet him. He answered, “I’m always thankful for an ice breaker and conversation. Not everyone is open to it.”
I couldn’t help but notice how open he was to the extraordinary in a mere book, conversation, and a few exchanged ideas. It was an unexpected magical moment, over a burrito.