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Fiction

“All is one and one is all…breathe in, breathe out.”


Gupta sat cross-legged on the boulder, his hands—palms up—resting in his lap, and he thought. At least, that is what he appeared to be doing, with his eyes closed. It was a very large, smooth boulder that he sat on, and Gupta looked like any ordinary boy about ten years old. However, he was not an ordinary boy, and a great sense of peace seemed to emanate from him. I don’t know how else to describe it.


My role was merely to record my observations and everything he said in this little black book that one of his disciples gave me. It had a genuine leather cover and a band that secured the pages. I had been recruited for this task while sitting on a bench feeding the squirrels. I had recently lost my job and my apartment and was hanging out in the park. When I asked about my pay, the disciple replied that I could have whatever I wanted. That was a pretty open-ended statement, but I went with him anyway.


The Spring Festival was on in Central Park and everywhere a person went there was something going on. All except for this one out of the way spot, where the boy had set himself up on a high rock. I assumed that he had climbed up there, although afterwards I was not sure of anything.


Gupta never tried to attract anyone to himself, but when a child speaks with wisdom far above that of a child, people pay attention. They would come by, notice Gupta on his rock, and wait around for a moment. Gupta never disappointed them. Central Park is a place known for strange or unusual people, besides for murder, rape, and other crimes, so it was not surprising to see someone meditating on a rock.


I cannot forget the first thing that I heard him say (because I wrote it in the little black book): “All is one. One is all.” That was it, and then his eyelids drooped again. But that was enough for his disciples. They sat around for hours discussing what Gupta must have meant. Later, he awakened—if he ever truly slept—and said, “Rest and realize that you are right where you are supposed to be.”

Someone asked him, “What do you mean by ‘rest’?”


“Be a leaf on the water that lets go of itself. It holds onto nothing but touches everything.”


Naturally, this really excited his disciples. They all closed their eyes—I suppose, to imagine themselves as leaves on the water. Me? I wrote down everything.


I did not have to stick around after dark, but every morning when I got to the park Gupta was there and his disciples. I think that his disciples slept there. I would open the book in case he said anything, and as it was lying there, people walking by would occasionally drop cash onto the book. This was amazing to me. After a while, it got to be quite a lot, but I simply placed it neatly at the end of the book, held in by the thick leather cover and the band that went around it.


A man who was out of work came by and asked what he should do.


“Be mindful and honest work will come to you,” Gupta replied.


“What do you mean by mindful?” the man asked.


“Breathe in and breathe out.” Gupta said.


“And what does that mean?”


“Breathe in all that life has given you; breathe out gratitude. Let the rest go.” Gupta looked at me. “Give him half of what you have there.”


After each day in the park I would go eat in a nearby diner, but I almost never paid for my meal. Someone would see the notebook, with it’s expensive-looking black leather cover, and ask about it. I would always say, “This is where I record what Gupta says.” Nearly everyone had heard of him, and if they hadn’t, I would explain. “Gupta, the boy who meditates on the rock in Central Park.” Then they would say, “Oh, him. I heard of him,” and buy me my dinner so that I would read sections of the book to them. In this way, and without my trying to spread word of him, even more people came to know of Gupta.


One day a policeman and a woman dressed in a business suit came to see Gupta. The woman asked him questions about his parents and where he lived, but his eyes were closed. Since they could not get up to him, that was all they could do, and the woman became frustrated. “Well, do something!” she said to the cop.


“And what would you like me to do?” the cop replied. “He is not breaking any laws.”


“But he should be in school.”


“School’s out, remember? And besides, it’s the festival.”


“Well, he shouldn’t be just sitting here all day and night.”


“I’ve never seen him here at night, have you?”


“I don’t come here at night, but every day I see him here.”


They went on this way for a while, but at last the woman walked away in a huff and the policeman sauntered off. And Gupta opened his eyes.


“When you realize that you lack nothing, you have everything,” he said. And then he added, “You no longer need to take away the peace of another person or change anyone.”


A gang of young thugs walked by, and when they saw Gupta and his disciples they stopped. “What are you doing up there?” one of them asked.


Gupta opened his eyes. “Be filled with love and all things will be yours,” he said.


“Hah! So you’re a guru?” one of the boys replied. “Tell me how to get rich.”


“You are rich already, if you know it. Be still and you will see it.”


“Me? I don’t have anything.” The boy bent to pick up a small pebble in the path, took aim, and threw it. But Gupta merely moved his head a few inches and the rock went harmlessly past.


Gupta’s disciples were on their feet now, but Gupta looked at them and shook his head slightly. They sat down again.


The gang members threw more and larger rocks, but each time Gupta moved slightly to one side or the other and dodged them. Finally Gupta seemed to tire of this game and closed his eyes. Another rock came his way—straight toward him—and at the last moment he reached out and caught it. Then he opened his eyes, his lips spread in a shallow smile, and when he opened his hand a dove flew out.


At that point most of the boys ran away, but a couple remained, sitting down on the grass.


One morning a young woman walked up. She did not look happy. When she saw Gupta and his disciples, she asked, “Who is he?”


“He is Gupta,” one of the disciples replied.


“Is that a name or a title?”


“It is his name. He is the Master and we are his disciples.”


“Is that right.” She turned to Gupta. “No one loves me. My boyfriend just broke up with me and my parents won’t let me in the house.”


Gupta looked at her for at least a minute before saying anything, and then he spoke to me. “What is in your book?” He asked.


“What do you mean?” I replied. For some reason, I had not opened the book yet this morning. So I opened the book and to my astonishment a bouquet of flowers fell out. There had been nothing in there a moment before except the money, and now that was gone.


Gupta spoke to the girl. “Do you see that woman on the bench over there?” He inclined his head in the direction of an old woman sitting on a park bench. She was looking down and seemed rather dejected. “She also feels unloved,” Gupta continued. “Give her that bouquet of flowers.”


The girl obeyed as we all watched curiously. She walked to the woman and said a few words, which we could not hear, extending the bouquet to her. The woman smiled, took the flowers, and patted the bench next to her. The girl sat down and they began a conversation which, again, we could not hear. But a few minutes later they both got up and walked away. As they went, they seemed to spontaneously take each other’s hand.


Of everything that I had seen, this was the most remarkable. But I was about to have an even greater sign of Gupta’s startling abilities.

The next day a middle-aged man wandered by, barely looking where he was going.


Gupta did something then that I had never seen him do. He spoke to the man without first being addressed. “You do not want to do that,” he said in a soft voice.


The man stopped, looked around, saw Gupta’s disciples, and then finally Gupta. “Were you speaking to me?” he asked.


When Gupta remained silent, the man continued, “How do you know what I want to do?”


“Love yourself and do not give way to anger,” Gupta replied.


The man began to cry. “I can’t love myself,” he sobbed. “I’m finished. There’s no hope. I…I…” Suddenly, he pulled out a pistol. Everyone drew back, but Gupta remained unmoved. “I’ve lost twenty-thousand dollars, and my employer is going to call the police,” the man continued. “I’ll go to jail. My family…I can’t face them.”


“Give the pistol to my disciple,” Gupta said, gesturing toward me. “And take the book he holds.”


The man looked at me and noted the book. He wasn’t crying anymore. After glancing once more at Gupta, he walked over, handed me the pistol, and took the book out of my hands.


“Look in the back,” Gupta instructed (because it was closed now). “Your money is not lost, it is here.”


The man opened the book, turned to the back, and almost dropped it. He gawked at what he saw, as if it were a fortune in gold. “Wha—what is this?” He turned and we all saw what he had found.


I knew for a fact that there had been exactly thirty-seven dollars in the book the night before when I had closed it and pulled the band around the covers. But as the man counted the money, it soon became clear that there was a lot more now. Finally, he looked up, once again with tears in his eyes. “Twenty-thousand dollars,” he murmured, his voice trembling. “Twenty-thousand, exactly.”


“As I said,” Gupta replied. “Your money is here. Take it and give it to your employer.”


The man was mumbling, trying to thank Gupta, but one of the disciples took the book from his hand. “Go and do as he told you, and peace be with you,” he said softly.


When the man had left us, Gupta looked at me for the second time since I had come. “Throw the gun away,” he said.


“Where?” I asked.


“That does not matter,” Gupta replied, and so I turned and tossed the gun toward the nearby bushes. It never made it to the bushes, but simply disappeared in mid-air. Well, this pretty much did it for me. I knew that Gupta was different, but this was not possible in the world I knew, not without a little intervention. That night, I had a lot to share at the diner.


However, when I went back in the morning I had a shock. Gupta was not there. His disciples had also come to find him gone. No one had an explanation. We searched the whole park and asked around, but no one had seen him and there were no reports of Gupta anywhere else.


However, things changed in Central Park and all around, even after the Spring Festival was over. People were friendlier. The gangs that roved in the park started helping people instead of terrorizing them. I saw one return a purse that a lady had forgotten on a park bench.


And I got a job. A friend of mine told me about the opening, and it was a much better one than I had left. Everything I had lost came back to me in spades. I learned the truth of what Gupta had taught us: “All is one and one is all…breathe in, breathe out.”


By chance, I met the girl who had felt unloved and she told me that her parents had accepted her back and she was seeing a new guy. When I mentioned that Gupta had disappeared, she shrugged and said, “I guess that every now and then, someone has to come and help us.”

March 20, 2021 02:44

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5 comments

Palak Shah
09:47 Aug 09, 2021

I enjoyed reading the story especially at the end when the girl and the old lady walked of hand in hand :)))

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Holly Fister
12:32 Mar 29, 2021

You pulled this off so well, without it feeling hokey. I teared up when the girl and elderly lady walked off hand in hand. Well done!

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Roger Crane
22:41 Mar 29, 2021

Thank you Holly. I never would have thought it.

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09:07 Mar 21, 2021

Hey Roger, I like the way that you mimicked the rising hope in these unloved people with the coming of spring after winter in the Spring Festival. I thought that was very clever. I also thought that putting genuine miracles, like the money and the dove, amongst Gupta's sayings added another layer of interest to the story - - at first you think he is just a bit of a pretentious self-made guru and then you see him actually doing these marvellous things. Finally, I enjoyed how the narrator transformed from an onlooker to a disciple himself ...

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Roger Crane
01:19 Mar 22, 2021

Thank you so much, Lizzy. I always love it when my readers see more in my stories than I intended, and--in essence--teach me. It reminds me of a critic who once said that what a creative writing (or any creation) means is not only the prerogative of the author (creator) to say. Because we do often write from a point of inspiration and grasp things beyond ourselves--or, as in this case, merely things we hadn't been aware of. Now, you have piqued my curiosity to go and see what you write.

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