Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #67, Sadhu

Sadhu; image colorized and modified by the author, from the public domain book Picturesque Egypt, published 1878, owned by the author.
Sadhu; image colorized and modified by the author, from the public domain book Picturesque Egypt, published 1878, owned by the author.

In this episode… wise men or wise guys?

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Fourteenth Era, Part 4 of 18, ~1170 C.E., to Khazaria
Sh’monah Esray, You are holy

Now the road was full of travelers, Damascus less than a week away. Horses and camels, donkeys and mules, soldiers, traders, farmers on foot, chaos and conflict when the crowd is dense, mixed with hours of quiet and calm. One goat-power is drivin’ our train.

Off in a field west of the road, clinkin’ of bells and whistle and pipe, incense burnin’ and singin’ of songs. We drift on over to see the show.

This road like a circus, wondrous and weird. Be these some Hindu holy men, rishis, swamis, sadhus or such? Dancin’ and swayin’ in an incense cloud. Oh, their turbans, so thick and so tall wrappin’ their heads in twisted folds like an eagle’s nest, like a pyre unlit. Some in robes, crimson and orange; others with hardly a loin cloth for garb, their faces painted white, their eyes blazin’ wild, chantin’ a chant in a madman’s trance, over and over in a thousand tropes like ecstatic fires be consumin’ them — ‘Sudjiddennanda’ flames from their mouth.

What is the meaning of their guttural grail, beseechin’, besearchin’ in utter zeal? Then one rushes up and grabs my hands and he spins me around like a sufi’s dance.

Soon the world’s spinnin’ and I’m out of breath so he lets me go and I stumble and fall.
“I came to you because I heard your thoughts chanting with us. Your mind soared on this mantra’s wing. Who is your teacher?”

“What kind of chump do you think I am? Hear my thoughts! Know my mind! Come on Batkol. Let’s get outta here.”
“Wait! I’m sorry! I mean no harm. I thought, perhaps, you were a friend. I thought you knew the One and All. Perhaps it isn’t you I heard, wandering along these high ways.”

“Wanderin’ the highway, that I know, but not your chantin’ and not your tongue, and not your ways and not your Ones.”
“But weren’t you thinking of the three states of Divine knowledge, those numinous winds lifting you out of the elements?”

I turn to Batkol and she just shrugs —
“When’s the last time someone said that he had ears inside your head? But he don’t seem dangerous, not to me.”

And all this time I hear myself repeatin’ a blessing in the back of my mind,
“*Attah khonane l’addum da-at…*”
*-* You graciously bestow to man wisdom
The forth blessing of the Amidah,
Grace us from Yourself: to perceive, to understand, and thus be wise.

Maybe that’s the three states he means, *Da’ah, binah, v’haskael.*
*-* perception, understanding, and wisdom

I turns back more kindly now.
“Actually, our sages teach somethin’ similar to that: Da’ah, binah, v’haskael. We grow to wisdom step by step, much the way we harvest wheat — reap, thresh, winnow, clean — to filter thru the chaos of sense, full of delusion, illusion, debris, and find implicit kernels of truth. And them most astute may be inspired with poem or song, or even hear the Lor chantin’ Torah, emanatin’ worlds.”

“In the world of illusion — the human world — that exactly be those states. But in the world beyond this world — in the mind of Mind — we can discern the Sat, the Jit, and the Anand. Some would say it simply means truth, consciousness, bliss, but others say it is much more, that beyond the mind there is something else, and knowing that is knowing bliss. But until you quiet your mind enough, til the ‘you’ in the ‘all’ ceases to exist, these are empty words that fools repeat.”

“Then I won’t repeat ‘em,” I say with a grin. “This world of sense makes little sense. How much less the mind of the Lor! But tell me, mystic, do you really hear my thoughts or is that just your game, to awe and bedazzle me into your cult?”

He smiles and answers halting and slow.
“Well, where do games end and where does truth continue unadulterate in this world? But consider an oud. Such a beautiful sound, yet its strings alone make hardly a twang. The string is plucked and the wood resounds. The wood resounds, and that’s what we hear. In Tibet I have heard they make one bell talk to others till they all wail. Our consciousness seems to vibrate the same. One powerful person expands a thought and others feel it as if it’s their own.

“That’s part of it. Another part: Harmonious people merge their souls; friends, siblings, some husbands and wives feel similar feelings, think similar thoughts, dream similar dreams or related dreams, like Tibetan bells that vibrate alike. A fact that many people disregard.

“And another part, the hardest part — the more you rise above yourself — oh how to say so you’ll understand? You know how the earth pulls you down. How high can you jump? Hardly a step. Throw a stone up; it rushes down. The ‘I’ inside you is just like the earth, constantly pulling you into it. But a few people learn, as if, to fly or, as if they climb a stair in their mind. And out beyond the ‘I’ they can then hear other’s thoughts, feel other’s feelings.

“That’s the reason we dance our dance and sing our chants again and again — to quiet the ‘me’ and hear the ‘All’. But like I said, if you don’t have wings you won’t know how to soar on these words.”

Walkin’ on, I turn and ask:
“Say them words again for me.”
“‘Satjitananda.’ One word. And what’s that word that you said?”
“‘Da’ah, binah, haskael.’ Three words.”
And we parted down our higher ways, them for Ananda, us for the Lor. Maybe, if we each reach our destination, we’ll meet again.


In the next episode, rumors, illusions, and broken pieces…

About the Author
I am a writer, educator, artist, and artisan. My poetry is devoted to composing long narrative poems that explore the clash between the real and the ideal, in the lives of historical figures and people I have known. Some of the titles of my books are: The Song uv Elmallahz Kumming A Pilgimmage tu Jerusalem The Pardaes Dokkumen The Atternen Juez Talen You can listen to podcasts of my Eternal Jew posts on my personal blog, Textures and Shadows, which can be found on my website, or directly, at: I live just outside Washington, DC with my bashert, and we have two remarkable sons. Those three light my life.
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