The Laughing Saint – An Ancient Wisdom Story

Note – This story is reaching you with a message today. Hope the message rubs on you. When the story alighted in my mind, I laughed. And may you laugh too and spread it far and wide.

More than one thousand years ago in India, there lived a laughing Saint. Some called him a genius, others thought he was wise and some believed he was a fool.

So, a famous traveler from a faraway kingdom visited him one day. He wanted to evaluate and judge the man. The Saint was making an ordinary garland from grey flowers that had a very strong smell. On seeing the traveler, he pointed towards a bamboo mat.

The traveler kept sitting for a long time, watching the Saint, who would chuckle while putting fresh flowers in the thread. Soon, he got bored and thought the Saint was quite mad.

So, he started a conversation to get further proof of the Saint’s madness. “Ahem, hello Swamiji, for whom are you making the garland?”

No one in particular, ” the saint laughed.

Then why are you wasting your time on the garland?” the traveler asked.

The Saint looked at him and laughed again. The traveler got annoyed and thought this man was not only mad he was a fool too. There was nothing wise or intelligent about the man. Why was this idiot so famous?.

He got up to leave.

Sit down, dear friend. I am sorry I offended you, ” said the Saint. “I will ask you a few questions that will make you understand why I laughed. Tell me about yourself?”

I am a famous astronomer, scientist, and mathematician from a King’s court in the South. I own many palatial homes, immense wealth and I am highly respected in society. I have a lovely family and I live a grand life...”

That’s very good. So, what brings you here my friend?”

I wanted to know the secret of your laughter. But I think I have got my answer now, ” the traveler said, looking at him from top to bottom.

You have everything in life. It must make you happy, so why did you come here looking for silly secrets?” the Saint asked, wrapping the garland in a wet cloth.

The traveler cleared his throat. “The problem is I should be happy but I am not always happy like you.

Ok, so what will make you happy like me?”

Hmmm, I feel happy when I think about my wealth and power. And soon I am planning to go on a sea voyage, I guess, that will make me happy like you, ” said the traveler.

The Saint laughed again. “Well, thinking about your wealth is a memory of happiness! And planning a sea voyage is about future happiness. Tell me what will make you happy, right now? Because real and pure happiness can only exist right now!

The traveler looked closely at the laughing Saint. Something clicked in him but he was still confused so he continued the conversation.

I can be truly happy right now if I get something which I am hoping for.”

Like?”

Umm… like a better position at the King’s court.”

So, you can be truly happy only – when you get what you love. But what if you – Accepted and loved what you got every moment the same way, ” the Saint laughed again.

That is so simple and yet so difficult. But yes, that would make me happy right now! But I would still need to make plans for my future happiness…

If you stay alive in the Now, the future and your plans will be taken care of automatically. A fresh path gets carved out of every moment of conscious presence. Trust the universe to make everything work in your favor. Now, do you want to know why I laughed while making the garland?

The traveler nodded.

Well, this morning, I got some flowers as a present from the little girl next door. You would hardly ever see me making a garland at this time. But today, I decided to make it for no reason at all. The process of making the garland was exhilarating. The freshness, color, shapes of each flower was delightful. But a thought arose in me – Why was I making the garland? I didn’t pay attention to it and continued being in the moment. And then you came along.

The traveler nodded again, listening with bated breath.

You asked the same question – For whom are you making the garland? And I laughed appreciating the glory and grace of the Universe. Of course, for you, my friend! The little girl unknowingly picked up the flowers for you and I blissfully made the herbal garland for you. And the universe sent you here to get what you were really looking for. I know you have a rare disease in your left leg, I can smell it. So, here take the garland, the smell of the flowers will cure it.

The traveler was bewildered and accepted the garland gratefully. He really had a rare disease that he had kept hidden from the world. “Yes, this was what I was looking for around the country. I am so joyful I got it. I am so indebted to you. But this cure was not what I was hoping to get from you. I really wanted to know why you laughed so much.

And you know now. Don’t you? I am blissful because I choose to accept and ‘just be’ in every moment. Whenever you want to be blissful, just come back to the moment from your past or present and flow with what is… May you always be as accepting and grateful as you are right now after getting the cure. And the universe will give you more opportunities for bliss and gratitude,” the Saint blessed him.

When he returned home, the King of Southern Kingdom asked about the laughing Saint. The traveler said – “At first, he may look like a mad man, then an idiot and a fool, and finally one of the wisest men on Earth. But one thing is sure – his child-like laughter and positivity will stay with you like the fragrance of a rare garland.”

The Ghost Named Bond – Last Part

(The Story Till Now – A 27-year-old young man named Bond falls off from his balcony while clicking a stunt selfie with his girlfriend. He refuses to move on after his death and stays stuck in Apartment 328, where he has spent the most beautiful days of his life. His parents and girlfriend leave after his funeral but he is unable to move on due to his extreme grief.

Slowly, he comes to know more about the after-death existence and a funny reality – he has become quite a creepy ghost himself. He is sighted by many of the residents in the apartment complex. It is well-accepted that no one would rent the apartment but Bond is surprised to find that an Indian couple has rented the flat. A rare one-sided friendship develops between the ghost and the Indian lady, who is depressed and friendless in a foreign country. She is a typical case of a dependent, Indian visa wife in the USA. Her relationship with her husband worsens and she runs towards the balcony to jump off. At that moment, the ghost appears in front of her…Read more to know what happens next…)

Like a scared cat, she ran to grab her phone. I almost laughed. Just a moment before, she was ready to give up on her life but, desperate self-preservation prevailed on seeing a ghost. Maybe ghost sightings could do magical wonders in pushing people from one extreme to the other.

Breathlessly, she dialed her husband’s number but his phone was on airplane mode since he was flying. She dived towards the bedroom to grab the iPad – contacting any living person in the world was her sole motive. Shivering like a leaf, she face-timed her folks back in India and tried to show me – the tall, weird-American ghost, on the face-time. But I had already disappeared by floating away from the selfie spot.

I heard her mother chanting some mantra loudly. And then, they all began to chant Sanskrit shlokas in chorus. Holding the photo of her god, she obsessively chanted to drive me away while I gloomily sat observing her from the balcony. It was a heavy night as my sole companion in a lonely world wanted to get rid of me.

Techie returned the following evening and although he didn’t believe a word of what she said, he brought a funny looking priest to exorcise me. Then followed an elaborate ceremony accompanied by loud chants and bangs. It was quite interesting to watch the ghost-exorcising ceremony. However, she was under a lot of stress so, I moved away from them.

I decided to stay away as much as I could. They had no clue that the living world was far more savage than our ghost world – where tormented and stuck souls lived. But would they believe me? I made the dark ceiling of the store-room as my new haunt.

Meanwhile, Techie turned over a new leaf since that day. Perhaps, he thought his wife was hallucinating and losing her mind. And that made him consciously make efforts to take care of her. He cooked for her, fed her, and cheered her up. He even got her enrolled in English lessons and driving classes. Life brightened a little for them as they began to talk more.

She had also got another companion! Techie gifted her a handsome talking parrot; she loved it. For hours, she would teach the parrot to talk. I hardly went near the parrot, as it would screech and round its eyes on seeing me.

One day, the fire alarm went off in our building. This was mostly an entertaining event for me because I had the pleasure of watching panicked human behavior. The authorities expected that the residents leave the building before the doors got sealed. She was alone and had never experienced these fire-alarm security measures but Mrs. Raju came to her rescue. They ran out of the building with her. The firefighters and the police arrived within minutes and they began to secure the place. I watched it all from the balcony.

But one particular thing caught my eye, Mrs. Raju was chatting with her and pointing fingers towards my apartment. What was she telling her about me?

After the incident, I strongly felt that she had become comfortable with my presence around the house. Maybe she had gathered that I was harmless. Maybe Mrs. Raju had related my sad death story and she was sympathetic… Maybe she had become used to me… or maybe I was reading too much into things!

Things started to look up for everyone in Apartment 328, but my indiscretion one fateful evening changed everything.

That day, Techie was chatting with her on the balcony. For a change, his conversation seemed entertaining to me. It was about his encounter with an Indian ghost in his childhood. I hovered closer to know more about my Indian counterpart. But lo! In a flash, I reached the ‘selfie’ spot, and unwittingly presented myself.

What a sight I might have looked – a tall American ghost hovering over them, trying to listen to a ghost story! My lady remained unperturbed but the effect on him was pretty disastrous. He grimaced, rubbed his eyes, and looked horrified. A scary ghost lived with them – this information was too much for his mind to process. He ran out of the apartment, dragging her with him. She tried to calm him down… but he was not in his senses.

The next day, I learned that he had decided to move out of the ‘haunted’ apartment. I saw them packing things up. She looked calm but Techie was super-stressed, fearful that I was lurking around.

Memories came flooding back of the days we spent together. The lady and I were partners in loneliness and distress. I remembered her spices, her films, Mr. Khan, and her Gods. Somewhere, someone was playing a haunting song again, giving dark background music to my dejection.

I escaped to the storeroom to avoid seeing my sole friend go. By evening, I listened to the sounds of things getting moved out, luggage dragged, and doors getting closed behind them. I was lonely once again.

It was dark when I came out on the balcony. There was silence everywhere; the mild fragrance of Indian spices was still there in the empty, dark rooms. I felt like I died again, and there was no closure.

Suddenly, I heard a screeching sound from the maple tree in front of my apartment. What was ‘Mitthu’ her talking parrot doing there? Did she set it free before leaving? The bird circled me and squawked- “Thank you from Mukta! Mukta means freedom! Be happy and free!.”

Mesmerized and energized, I spoke her name softly – Mukta! Mitthu was delivering her message. That was her ingenious way to communicate with me and express her gratitude for saving her life before leaving. I thought I had unwittingly helped Mukta when she was lonely and depressed, but she had come to me for a reason as well.

I spoke her name again, and something in me clicked. I had never paid attention to her name. ‘Mukta’ was a divine sign. Was it time to let go, to surrender my despair, and move on…be Mukt?

I whispered ‘Thank You’ to ‘Mitthu’ as it flew away to its freedom. I chose to follow the bird’s illuminated trail…wherever it took me. I felt I was blissfully accepting things, moving on, leaving all the bad as well as good memories of Apartment 328 behind me… to go wherever I was supposed to go!

(I had great fun writing this story. Hope you liked it. And thank you for being with the Ghost named Bond for the past three weeks.)

The Ghost Named Bond – Part 3

On a warm morning in August, the Indian couple moved into my apartment. I receded to the storeroom by the balcony to avoid them. To my dismay, the different aromas of spices, grains, and incense filled my apartment. On the bare walls of the apartment, they hung pictures of Hindu Gods – Ganesha, Krishna and Kali. The lady had also brought a lot of cooking utensils – pots, pans, and wok. 

I peeped at the lady. She had a pleasant face but looked lost and spoke very little. Her language was different from Mrs. Raju and she mechanically unpacked their limited luggage. Her tall over-weight husband, who wore thick glasses, did most of the talking. He was working on a laptop – obviously, a techie who owned a Toyota something car, I thought. The lady was about my age while the husband was in his thirties. I really hoped that someone could tell the couple about me, the terrifying ghost, and make them leave my space.

In a few days, I learned more about them. It was the first time, the lady had visited any foreign country. She only spoke Hindi. On the other hand, the techie had a traveling job so he had to frequently leave his wife alone. Once or twice, I tried to scare them off from the apartment, but they just didn’t notice. The lady always looked preoccupied while Techie was either in the office or on the phone. 

While he would be on conference calls, the lady would cook and clean obsessively. Her delicious dishes would mostly go to the trash as Techie was hardly home and she rarely ate. To throw those chapattis, curries, kebabs and chicken tikka masala into the bin was a crime. Wasn’t it? If only I were alive… 

On a regular day, I was pondering over my plight in the storeroom when her sobs startled me. She was lying prostrate on the carpet – a picture of grief. Her long tresses looked entangled and messy. Techie was traveling and I did not know the cause of her distress. 

For the first time, I noticed her sadness. Friendless, helpless, and completely dependent on her constantly traveling husband in a new land, she had all the reasons to be upset. As an American, I never really paid attention to how it felt to be an immigrant and a dependent – the typical case of a visa wife! Added to it, she hardly knew English and had no driving experience to explore and learn on her own. The other Indians in the apartment spoke different languages, so, she couldn’t really chat with them. She couldn’t interact, make friends, or go out. 

Silently, she cooked and cleaned the house, and spoke only when on the phone with her folks in India. Her refuge was a creaking rocking chair in front of the TV, where she cried herself to sleep every afternoon. Depressive thoughts, low self-esteem never did a person any good. I felt a sort of bonding with her – we both were stuck and lonely. I had read somewhere – a unique relationship is often a good by-product of trying times. 

A sudden knock on the door, one afternoon, startled her and made me float to the ceiling. I was watching a colorful, Hindi musical with her. The lead actor was some Mr. Khan. She always watched Khan’s movies. She opened the door. A scared-looking Mrs. Raju stood there. I remembered her having seen me as a ghost in the past. I playfully blew hot air on her face. I think she sensed it. Anxiously handing over a birthday party invite, Mrs. Raju whispered – Aren’t you afraid to stay here all by yourself? Haven’t you heard the stories of a ghost named Bond? The lady smiled and answered in the negative. 

I saw her smiling for the first time. She was happy to be invited. Closing the door, she went to her wardrobe to select a dress.

She looked attractive and the grim lines around her mouth had faded. I felt even more sorry for her. We both were similar in many ways – she was afraid to explore and I was afraid to move on, we were in self-inflicted captivity. But it was worse for her because she was unable to appreciate what she had – LIFE.

That evening, she dressed graciously in a long elegant salwar-suit, parted her lovely hair, applied vermilion, and lined her large eyes with kohl. Techie canceled his calls for the first time and came home early to go to the party. I was happy to see her happy and the party went well.

I became more comfortable in her presence. I would hover near her when she cooked. I could now identify all her spices..turmeric, cumin, coriander, chilies. I learned about her Gods too but a goddess on a huge lion scared me the most. 

Meanwhile, Techie’s trips out of town increased and their differences grew. She developed a rude and aggressive attitude towards her husband. In retaliation, Techie would stay aloof and distant. Their marriage was falling apart and I blamed him more than her.  

On a January night, Techie went out of town again. I saw her crying bitterly in her room. They had a nasty fight before he left and she had not stopped crying since. I felt concerned for the frail woman. Apparently, she was depressed and not sleeping well. Suddenly, she got up and ran towards the balcony on decidedly a rogue, dangerous impulse! I smelt catastrophe. She was almost near my ‘selfie’ spot when I materialized right in front of her…and she stopped. Taking a step back, her face white as snow, she screamed… I knew that was the end of my one-sided-friendship. (To be contd…)

(The Story – Part 1 and Part 2 – A 27-year-old young man named Bond falls off from his balcony while clicking a stunt selfie with his girlfriend. He refuses to move on after his death and stays stuck in Apartment 328, where he has spent the most beautiful days of his life. His parents and girlfriend leave after his funeral but he is unable to move on due to his extreme grief. Slowly, he comes to know more about the after-death existence and a funny reality – he has become quite a creepy ghost himself. He is seen by many of the residents in the apartment complex. It is well-accepted that no one would rent the apartment but Bond is surprised to find that an Indian couple has rented the flat. Read more to know what happens next…)

The Ghost Named Bond – Part 2

(The Story Till Now – A 27-year-old young man named Wilbert Bond falls off from his balcony while clicking a stunt selfie with his girlfriend. He refuses to move on after his death and stays stuck in Apartment 326, where he has spent the most beautiful days of his life. His parents and girlfriend leave after his funeral but he is unable to move on due to his extreme grief. Slowly, he comes to know more about the after-death existence and a funny reality – he has become quite a creepy ghost himself. Read more to know what happens next…)

One evening, the Asian Man ( I had nicknamed him Mr. Crocs), was watering plants in his apartment, which was right opposite to mine. I was melancholic and accidentally floated to the same ‘selfie’ spot, from where I had fallen off.

In a flash, my form seemed heavier; I felt I was materializing. I was acquiring a sort of shadowy structure that was close to my former physical body, on the spot that led to my death. Perhaps, I had left some intense energy there before dying. It felt good to have some form, although ghostly; it was quite an achievement for me.

But I couldn’t enjoy the finding for long because Mr. Crocs had spotted me. His reaction was priceless. His shock-stricken eyes almost came out of the sockets. He blinked twice or thrice and then ran inside, screaming in his language. I had never seen him unnerved before; it was hilarious to ruffle him out of his remarkable composure.

He came out again to check once more and ran back screaming. I moved away from the spot in a blink before he could get a heart attack as he was beginning to look very pale. The very next day, I saw a crowd on his balcony, geared with devices to record a ghost-sighting video.

This intrusion infuriated me. After the incident, I tried not to venture into the ‘selfie’ spot in daylight. It was annoying to have prying eyes on me. However, at night, the irrepressible feeling of having a presence, albeit shadowy, in the living world would overpower me.

And I would stand on my balcony after midnight, reminiscing about my girlfriend – hoping that I get a second chance to say good-bye to my love. I would also think of my parents and move around the house in an agitated state. I wondered whether the neighbors heard my horrible noises of agony.

Despite my best intentions, I got sighted by old Mrs. Wiederholt, who was taking in the night air by the pool. She looked startled for a second, and then the dear lady just crossed her heart. She knew Mr. Wiederholt was somewhere in my world. I tried to connect with the ghost of Mr. Wiederholt for companionship. I often played chess with Mr. Wiederholt when we were alive but he was not there in my dimension. He had moved on.

Often, creepy animals floated by me; occasionally, I saw some light beings too. The ghost-world perplexed me; there was so much to learn.

Mrs. Wiederholt had stopped reacting whenever she saw me and would leave me in peace. However, Mrs. Raju almost had a heart attack when she spotted me from the outside parking lot. ‘Aiyayiyoooo,’ she yelled and jumped towards the clueless Mr. Raju, who walked ahead carrying their sleeping boy. They were returning home from a late-night birthday party.

Mr. Raju was annoyed about being pushed but Mrs. Raju pointed towards my balcony and escaped abandoning her glittery sandals. Mr. Raju kept a brave face, walked faster, and faster… and finally, ran like a bullet towards the safety of the building holding the wailing kid.

I was not that scary, was I?

I became one of the most talked-about ‘non-living-being’ in the county. Everyone held me responsible for doing terrible things. I was ‘Mr. Nobody’ who stalked, scared, and harassed people. My ghost stories made kids go to bed on time.

Therefore, I was astonished when an Indian couple rented my apartment. Weren’t they aware that Apartment 326 was haunted by ME – the terrifying, blood-curdling ghost named Bond? (To be contd…)

The Ghost Named Bond – Part 1

ghostA popular sad song played somewhere close while I stood looking at my crumpled body. My neck had broken, someone said. I agreed. It was a nasty fall; a wrinkled man announced. I agreed again.

She came running towards me and ran through me towards the crowd. The crowd made way for her. Breathless, shocked, and dazed, she looked at my dead body and broke down. The crowd feigned sympathy and enquired suspiciously about my fall. With great difficulty, she managed – He…he..fell off the balcony while taking our..selfie!

Her words came as an embarrassment to my detached self. Did people die like this? I mean, just like this? Being murdered was far better than death by foolishness. There was no drama, no twisted plot, not even some fancy-sounding sickness, just a stupid accident!

If only I could get sucked back in that body! It was a nice, healthy body filled with joy and energy just a couple of minutes back.

But the next moment, I just lay there like an empty reddish-white sack. But wait, who was I – that body or this? It was all so confusing or a bad dream, perhaps?

Someone in the crowd suggested it could be a suicide or murder. I looked at the speaker and recognized my neighbor – Mr. Crocs! His eyes looked even more prominent now as I hovered near him. “Do not look for cheap thrills Mr., it was just a foolish accident,” I whispered hoping to be heard. I didn’t want any more troubles for her.

Soon after, sirens wailed and men in uniforms appeared. They began their investigation and reaffirmed the truth – I had slipped off the balcony from my third-floor apartment while posing for a selfie with my girlfriend. Legalities ensued. Later, my parents and well-wishers arranged a funeral service at the famous Cross Point Church in my small town in the US, where solemn speakers took turns to speak about me in superlatives.

Before death, I never knew I was such a great son, boyfriend, brother, friend, colleague, neighbor. I remembered the same set of people calling me names at different times in my life. They had all changed opinions quite quickly! It felt nice listening to them. I was going to heaven, perhaps?

After my burial, I expected angels to descend and escort me to heaven. But nothing happened. Or was the Devil planning to claim me? I thought of my sins and considered myself quite eligible for hell. But he also didn’t show up. Death confused me. No God, No Devil. No Heaven, No Hell! Did religious talks and holy books contain nothing but a series of concocted tales? Were godmen lying all this while? I was the same person minus the body and its demands. Death did not bring answers. I said goodbye to my 27-year-old body with a broken neck and decided to go back to my apartment.

Back in the apartment, my parents sat holding hands. They looked older than I had seen them last. It was heartbreaking to see them in such a pathetic state. I heard sobs in the bedroom. My girlfriend was there. I wanted to reach out to her, to connect somehow.

However, things were different. I was stuck in an unknown dimension, from where I could watch but couldn’t communicate. My cell phone beeped. I saw – 3k likes on my Facebook obituary. Now, this was something that pepped up things a bit.

After a few days of untold misery, my parents flew back to Arizona and I watched her pack. She was moving out of our apartment. Memories came flooding back of those amazing days we had spent together, of nights filled with passionate love and bitter-sweet quarrels. I thought of a life not lived, tasks unfinished and wishes unfulfilled, and mourned my sudden death. The angst that followed was worse than my fall. I was miserable but stuck to the place where I had spent the most beautiful time of my short-lived life – Apartment No. 326.

Someone who had a bad sense of timing played the haunting song again as I watched my girlfriend go, forever!

A period of gloom filled my consciousness after she left. But I tried to adjust to my new status. I noticed there were various dimensions in our space. Sometimes, I watched shadows float by. I tried to communicate but none answered. It was unbearably lonely, but I did not want to move on. I was just not ready yet. Occasionally, some unusual sounds or sights would scare me and I would retreat to the furniture less bedroom. Later, an incident led me to believe that I was very creepy! And the residents of the Apartment Complex had named me – The Ghost Named Bond. (To be contd…)