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The Baker-San

Most esoteric and spiritual learning systems teach that we are – each of us – a perfect piece of the omni-creative God-force. Yet, living in this karma-driven, 3D-reality demonstrates the need for a little “self-improvement”.

Measuring “advancement” in the sphere of spiritual development is a slippery slope.

The term “old soul” creates the perception that there are “younger souls” … Somehow existing for, what?  Fewer lifespans? Manifesting fewer incarnations, implicitly knowing/mastering fewer lessons?

Steve, a self-proclaimed “young soul” joins our ranks as a carpenter…

During an early phase of my carpentry path, I used a number of helpers with various skill levels. Sometimes all I needed was a steady pair of hands to help me carry the long deck or floor joists. My business was growing and I knew intuitively that hiring “talent” would serve that purpose.

At this time there was a restaurant in town, a “new” concept called “a health food restaurant.” Love and Serve was a cozy little place off Greenwich Avenue which served vegetarian soups, sautes, rice and curries. I loved it! It was run by followers of the teachings of Sri Chinmoy, an Indian Guru. As a frequent customer, I became friends with the sweet folks who worked there. One of them was Steve, the baker.

Steve was an ardent, enthusiastic, young, fit person – devoted to his Guru, who, as Steve shared, “specialized in souls at the beginning of the path to self knowledge”. Steve loved to hear about the projects I was working on and expressed a desire to learn carpentry. He was available part time so I decided to give him a try.

I saw right from the start, that Steve was never going to be a carpenter. To this day I can see his hands: short fingers with square palms. Carpenters are Artisans – artists if you will – and they almost always have great, fine sensitive hands.

After several days of work, I told Steve how I felt about his lack of potential. He took the truth of it gracefully, letting it settle in. His path was about acceptance of higher truths and striving to be as ego-less as possible – perfect skills for use on the spiritual path – even handy to have in the carpenter’s tool box. But those hands …

Cross country and back

Part of Guru’s teaching path was long distance cycling. Shortly after our conversation about Steve’s diminished future in construction, he agreed to go on a cross-country bicycle tour with a group of devotees … months of daily, grueling pedaling as a sort of mindfulness-intention exercise.

These devotees were purists: no dope, no drugs, no booze – pure clean-living types. Their joy was in a Samadi-boot-camp … to put their bodies and souls on a bike or on the track – or even in the kitchen at 5 am, following their Guru’s direction.

To be One with God

I asked Steve what the goal of all this was … He answered, “To be One with God.” Of course, I wondered – why couldn’t he do it himself? Why did he need a teacher? His answer patiently delivered was,

“I am a young soul and I need the discipline of Sri Chinmoy’s teachings.”

On returning home from the cycling trip, we sat down for tea and muffins. I asked him to tell me about the hardest point of the journey. He answered matter-of-factly …

“It was the first hill on I-80 in Pennsylvania, just past the Water Gap. After that, even the Rockies were “a piece of cake.”

His humility impressed me deeply.

I often got the impression that Steve really enjoyed my iconoclastic view of life and never felt challenged by it. He never tried to “lure me” into his thinking … he was too wise for that.

In the warm muffin-ness of the moment, we were just two friends sharing our stories.