© 2002, Thomas M. Krapu, Ph.D., All rights reserve
An Experience I Treasure
I have told this story to a few individuals but now that Professor's video is out it is relevant to a wider audience. The story requires some background to give it context, so if you are not into long stories, you might want to skip this one.
The story starts in India when I was there to tour and visit the Kumba Mela, the largest religious gathering in the world.
I was there in 1989 (the Kumba Mela occurs every 12 years). My guide and companion, a psychiatrist colleague of mine, told me that I had to meet a man who was going to be there. His name was Devraha Baba and he was reported to be an Indian saint who was at least 150 years old.
The Kumba Mela is held at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in Alahabad. The rivers are not flooding at that time so a huge tent city is constructed on the flood plains of the river. This tent city can house 300,000 people plus. Well DR had his encampment about a half a mile upstream from the confluence and this tent city. So we walk up there and observed an encampment area. Devraha Baba stayed in a small hut that was built up on posts with a small open porch area in front.
When we got there, there was a man warming up the crowd, chanting and entertaining them till Devraha Baba came out. We waited about 45 minutes while the crowd gathered. When Devraha Baba came out of his hut there were probably about 300-400 of us sitting on the ground in front of his hut waiting for him to speak.
The height of this porch floor was such that Devraha Baba could sit cross legged there and reach down to touch copies of the Bagavad Gita that people would bring for him to touch. If a person reached up high, holding their book, Devraha Baba would reach down and touch them blessing them. He did this for a while before speaking.
When he began to speak, it was in Hindi, and I didn't understand a word he said. But what was interesting was my experience as he continued to talk. Being somewhat of a skeptic, and an "innocent bystander" I was not expecting much once I realized he was not going to talk in English. Sitting in the middle of this group of a couple hundred people what I noticed as Devraha Baba continued to speak was that my awareness started to change. I found my attention and focus gradually centered on him and his voice. As this occurred my awareness of my surroundings dimmed or blurred until he and his voice were almost all I was aware of. In that moment I felt my heart being pierced with emotion. That moment, felt like an eternity because of the distortion of time which also accompanied this experience, and I was visited by a profound sense of Truth or Knowing. As Devraha Baba finished his talk my normal state of consciousness began to return and I was left with quite a profound feeling and a confused curiosity, wondering what exactly had just happened.
So many of you might be wondering what relevance this has, if any, to the art of t'ai chi ch'uan. To make this connection, I have to fast forward several years later when I was at my first Maggie Newman "camp" in upstate New York. It was an honor to meet Maggie, after having heard so much about her over the years. It was a good camp experience, good practice and good people. But the highlight of the camp was actually the videos of Professor that she would show during the push hands periods of the camp. There were several hours of tape and most people there had seen them before. I found myself drawn to them since the simple B&W and color movies of professor were all I had ever seen before. I watched these films with fascination and a deep curiosity for what might be revealed to me. Interestingly Professor only spoke Chinese so I could not understand a word he said, and if Tam Gibbs had not been there translating, I would not have comprehended a word. The more I watched them, the more I started having an uncanny experience. These films introduced Professor's voice to me for the first time. The more I listened, the more this uncanny feeling occurred and I wondered where this was coming from. Suddenly it dawned upon me several hours into watching these videos. This was Devraha Baba's voice! I began to reflect on this experience and I realized the depth of relaxation in this voice and the profound being underlying those spoken words were the same between both men.
It gave me a new appreciation of what I had heard Mr. Lo say over and over. Essentially: Don't just relax the body, the mind must also relax. It helped me appreciate that the levels of relaxation of mind are even more profound than the levels of relaxation of the body in t'ai chi ch'uan.
If you have not heard Professor's voice then I don't know what your experience will be when you first hear his voice. He can be heard on the "Master Tapes". I only share my own experience as the most meaningful direct impact that Professor has had on me personally. Like many people I never had the blessing of meeting professor personally. I cherish this memory as if I had actually met him.
Thank you for your interest.