I recently had a small encounter with destiny so small that I could have ignored it entirely. A man came to visit me who had devoted his entire life to spirituality. He told me about his many visits to India and his devotion to its ways. He wore amulets of the kind you can buy at temples and holy sites; he knew many sacred chants, or Bhajans; he had been blessed by many holy men in his travels, Some had given him mantras as a gift. A mantra can as short as a syllable or as long as a sentence, but it’s basically sound. In what way can a sound be a gift?
To someone steeped in Indian tradition, the gift isn’t the mantra itself but the effect meant to bring, such as wealth or a good marriage. There are thousands of mantras and thousands of possible results they bring.
When I asked him what he did for a living, the man waved his hand and said, “Oh, a little healing, a little psychic stuff. You know mind-reading. I don’t pay much attention to it.” His careless attitude intrigued me, and I asked if be could show me an example. He shrugged. “Think of somebody and write a question you want to ask them.”
The only person on my mind that day was my wife who had been visiting family in New Delhi. I reminded myself that I should call to ask her when she was planning to return–we hadn’t set a fixed date since some of the family members were elderly, and my wife’s stay depended on how well they were doing. I wrote this down and looked at my visitor. He closed his eyes and began to chant a long mantra. After a minute he said, “Tuesday. You’re thinking about your wife, and you want to know when she is coming home.” He had got it right, and after he left and I was able to phone my wife, he got the day of her return right, too. I congratulated him, he smiled and waved his hand with the same careless gesture and said “It’s nothing. I barely pay attention to it.”
Adapted from , by Deepak Chopra (Three River Press, 2004).