My SCRAPBOOK (సేకరణలు): A COLLECTION of articles in English and Telugu(తెలుగు), from various sources, on varied subjects. I do not claim credit for any of the contents of these postings as my own.A student's declaration made at the end of his answer paper, holds good to the articles here too:"I hereby declare that the answers written above are true to the best of my friend's knowledge and I claim no responsibility whatsoever of the correctness of the answers."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

1805- Meditation and Mindfulness

So, I almost died last night. Really. We were returning from Mumbai to Pune last evening on the expressway. I was scheduled to return alone in a cab, then at the last minute a friend had also joined me. We were sitting in the back, talking amongst ourselves and also to our driver. It was about 8:30pm in the evening and it was raining outside.
Without warning, our driver suddenly jerked his head to the back and released the steering wheel. The car began moving off the road. I shouted at him to look ahead. He didn't respond and began falling off his seat. I realized he was having some kind of a seizure or fit. I tried to get up and grab the steering wheel. But my seat belt was on and prevented me. Quickly, I managed to click off my seat belt and leapt up to catch the steering wheel over the frothing face and stiffened body of the half supine driver. Just seconds before a full speed collision with the side rails on the highway, I managed to straighten the car enough that it barely scraped the side rail. The car was now moving parallel to the rail in the emergency lane.
Luckily the driver's foot was off the accelerator and the car began to very slowly, decelerate. Steering from the back, over the body of the driver, I managed to keep the car in the emergency lane, as traffic sped past us in the other lanes. Very slowly the car began to slow down, but it still wouldn't stop! I could not reach the brake pedal from where I was standing and the driver was a heavy man, blocking all access to the front. I reached for the ignition and switched off the car. It came to a halt. I then searched for the hazard lights in the unfamiliar console. Found them, and turned them on to warn the other cars. Reached for the emergency brakes and brought the car to a stable stop.
I asked my friend to call for help as I administered emergency aid and stimulated vital acupressure points on the gasping and frothing driver. I then stepped out of the car to try and get help. However it was dark, raining and no car was willing to stop. I then realized that I actually didn't need any car to stop, as this car probably still worked just fine! So I opened the driver's door and found the driver sitting up looking totally disoriented. He was mumbling. Didn't know where he was and who we were!
After a lot of coaxing and reassuring we got the hesitant driver who was very suspicious of us and couldn't understand what we were telling him to get out of the driver's seat and take the short, yet incredibly long and dangerous journey from the front to the back seat on the edge of the curving, rainy and busy highway. He was unaware of his surroundings and quite capable of stepping right onto the road.
Then I took the wheels and began driving as my friend kept trying to reach for help - as is usual for India, emergency numbers were unreachable when we most needed them. By a stroke of luck we happened to see an ambulance on the highway! I sped up to it and we honked and gestured and indicated for it to stop. It did. We told the ambulance driver our situation. He was sympathetic but said that there were no paramedics on board and that the ambulance was carrying a dead body, but he said if we followed him he would try to get us help.
So now we followed this ambulance as it lit up the highway with its shiny strobe lights. Meanwhile our driver had began to come around and was talking more coherently. He had began to understand what had happened and was afraid that he would lose his job. We told him to be thankful that he did not just lose his life!
Soon we came across a highway police car. We stopped it the same way and the cops told us to proceed to the next toll station where help would be at hand. So we kept driving. Meanwhile our driver was crying and pleading with us not to hand him over to the police! We said we were just trying to get him medical attention, but he was filled with paranoia.
We managed to contact the owner of the cab service and informed him of the situation. I told him to speak kindly to this driver and reassure him. Once the owner spoke to the driver he calmed down considerably. The owner said that he would send another driver to collect the car from any place we would leave it.
As we approached the toll station, I parked the car to a side and examined the damage. Amazingly, there were only a few small scratches on the side of the car and the front door did not open fully. Apart from that, the car was looking and working just fine! The situation would have been very different if we had had a full frontal collision with the side rails at the speed we were going!
I won't go into all the other details of the rest of the evening, but the driver was taken care of, we both reached home safe and the car was taken back to its owner.
Now for the lessons:
I believe meditation and mindfulness saved three lives yesterday. I am pretty sure all of us would be dead or at least seriously injured if there had not been the presence of mind to respond in the few seconds between the driver having the seizure and the car hitting the side rails and probably tumbling off the road entirely.
The whole time this happened I was in a state of zen like clarity and a supreme sense that it was all so surreal, like being in a video game. Not once in the whole incident was there any stress or worry. Just the clarity of what was happening and the next important decision to be made, and thing to be done. And one by one, everything got done.
My friend said she completely froze when she saw the driver turn his head back - didn't know what to say or do - a very natural and normal response in such circumstances. The ability to respond quickly, yet calmly in the face of a challenge is one of the things which develops as we practice being more conscious and present. I share this not to praise myself and my reflexes - but to highlight the value of spiritual practice to face life, life threatening situations, and when required, even death.
The whole evening there was a deep sense of calm, grace and gratefulness. Traffic did not bother me, slow cars in front did not bother me. Red lights did not bother me. It was all in perspective - we had almost not survived! Before sleeping I re-dedicated this life, so nearly lost, in service of love, truth and enlightenment for all.
How wonderful!

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