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Sunday, May 15, 2011
Two hours later with steam bellowing out of the hood, I crawl to a stop. Turns out Maseratis are no match for pothole ridden dirt roads or 105 degree heat. I spot something meandering my way, it's Ganesh. He halts, turns his majestic head towards me and says "The Maserati is beautiful, but not practical for this harsh climate". A talking elephant? Ganesh shares his story with me as we continue our journey into the night. He is no ordinary elephant he explains, he is the Lord of all living things. The remover of obstacles, obstacles that prevent us from achieving joy. "Humans gravitate towards material attachments, which create suffering. You choose an impractical vehicle to travel to Happytown and it leaves you stranded. Why?" he asks. I ponder my answer and respond "Because I've never driven a Maserati before and it is a status symbol of wealth in my country. I wanted to boast about it to my friends back home". Ganesh lifts his trunk and pats me on the head as he chuckles and says "Ahh, ego. Another obstacle I must clear for you".
The rising sun is breathtaking here, a rainbow sherbet sky spread over the horizon. Just then, a dark object with a humongous wing span buzzes by me and as I focus in, realize it's a flying carpet! It circles back around and its driver devilishly smiles at me saying, "You can ride my magic carpet or the elephant to Happytown, they are both the same price." Well, a magic carpet can't break down and it is much speedier than an elephant, so I hop on the Persian rug and wave goodbye to Ganesh. Wait till my friends hear about this, I think to myself.
Two hours later with a few bumps and scratches courtesy of the towering fig tree we crashed into, I am sitting down, pressed up against its trunk tending to my wounds. Turns out flying carpets are fast but not good at dodging a flock of birds. Plus, it's really windy up there, Aladdin never mentioned the wind part. Regretting my latest transportation mode and the suffering it's causing, I glance into the vast desert and who should appear but Ganesh. He languidly arrives to my rescue and I clamber on, wincing all the way. We travel in silence for a while, which I welcome. I don't need a lecture from the Lord elephant right now. After our lunch break under a shady Bodhi tree, I quietly admit how my choices led to suffering and unhappiness and ask Ganesh for help. "Be aware of your actions and inactions. Will they lead to joy or suffering? Life should flow like water, unobstructed and without resistance. That is the path to joy. Get out of your own way", the wise elephant answers.
The remainder of our trip was uneventful and I rode into Happytown with a clearer outlook on the true meaning of finding joy within rather than without. You may not need an elephant to lead you to joy, the path is the same for us all. Happiness does not come from material wealth or our emotional attachments to it, happiness comes when we travel with the Divine or God at our side.
May your life be free from suffering, May you be at peace, May you be happy.