Ashok Kumar Malhotra- Faculty Columnist
After a long trip from Los Angeles to Honolulu, I landed in Nandi, Fiji. I had only three days to explore this exotic island. I wanted this to be a relaxed experience, part of the most wonderful journey I was taking to the South Pacific. I had already arranged with the travel agent to show me some of the best parts of the country.
The next day started with a bus tour at 8:00 a.m. The bus driver showed us some of the major beaches and a rock formation of Fiji. The bus was full of tourists from all over the world. The Fijian driver was a tall man who looked like a Hawaiian warrior with a deep and rich voice that he greeted us with. All the tourists loved his voice. He told us that this was the best island in paradise and he was chosen by the members of the paradise committee to entertain us. He was overflowing with information and would reveal it to only those who asked questions. After giving a quick history lesson on Fiji he told us that there were 50 percent Fijians and 50 percent people of Indian origin living on the island. It was a terrific island with natural beauty and Indian foods that would spice up our visit.
I looked at his face. He seemed to be familiar. I thought that I had seen him somewhere before. This temptation led me to ask the driver if we had met in Hawaii. While keeping his eyes on the road and his hands on the wheel, the conversation went as follows:
“You might have seen me on the cover of a CD in Hawaii.”
“Yes, I did see you on a CD. You are that famous singer.”
“I am that singer but not that famous you are making me to be.”
“Do you sing in front of a large audience?”
“Yes, sometimes in front of more than 10,000 people.”
“How do you keep your composure?”
With a smile on his face, the driver said, “I have been practicing Zen meditation that I learned from an Indian master.”
“Tell me all about it.”
“The Indian Guru taught me to sit in front of a blank wall and empty my mind, making it totally blank.”
“My mind tries to mirror the blank wall and internalizes the emptiness.”
“How does that help you to sing before such a huge audience without feeling nervous?”
“Before any performance, I sit in front of a white wall for more than half an hour, emptying my mind of all worries, nervousness, anxieties, happiness and excitement. It usually takes 30 to 45 minutes. Once it lets go, it starts mirroring emptiness. My mind becomes totally still and calm. I capture that stillness, that emptiness, that calmness and then go on straight to the stage. I do not look at anyone in particular. However, I let the audience look at me. They send me their enthusiasm and excitement which I assimilate and give back to them through my songs.”
“How long have you been doing this?”
“For 10 years.”
“Has it worked for you every time?”
“Every time since I started using the Zen technique!”
“Do you feel that during those moments of singing, you feel like a vehicle through which creativity reveals itself?”
“Yes. I feel like a voice box driven by the creative forces of the universe. Creativity speaks through me.”
“How were you able to gain this kind of mastery?”
“It is all through the art of Zen meditation. I thank my Guru for this wonderful gift.”
“Can anyone acquire this gift?”
“But how?” I asked.
“It is available to anyone who learns the technique and applies it diligently everyday for a long time. Practice, practice and practice! Success will be yours!”
I thanked the driver for this very informative dialogue on Zen Meditation in Action.