First, while I am disappointed that I did not receive any recommendations for exorcists, I fully understand. They are all very busy right now.
In the meantime, I am desperately seeking other options. I learned this week that one of my neighbors thought an exorcist now lived in our apartment house. I could not pass up the opportunity. I got his apartment number and with fear and trembling knocked on his door not knowing exactly what to expect. A middle-aged, thin gentleman, with tan skin, slightly graying hair, a black beard, kind eyes, and wearing a turban, a white shirt, white pants and sandals opened the door. He spoke with a slight accent, which I guessed was probably Indian.
“Excuse me, sir,” I humbly asked, “I understand you might be an exorcist.”
“Mr. Howell, I presume?”
“Yes, how did you know?”
“Well,” he replied gently, “the word has gotten around that you have been frantically looking for an exorcist, and a lot of people think that is what I am, but I am afraid that I must disappoint you. I am not an exorcist. I suppose it is the way I dress and my accent. Frankly, it drives me crazy.”
“Oh,” I said, “That is too bad, but what are you?”
“I am a guru.”
“What is the difference between a guru and an exorcist?”
“A guru is a wise and holy person. An exorcist is a quack.”
While naturally I was disappointed with his answer, I felt very comfortable in his presence. He invited me to come in and motioned for me to sit at a small table where incense was burning. His small apartment was tastefully decorated with artifacts, which I guessed were from Asia.
What followed next was a transformative experience which I have been told is often associated with being in the presence of a holy and wise person. He poured me a cup of tea and then sat across from me explaining that he usually sat on the floor but had heard that I was elderly and that probably I would not be able to get up.
The conversation started off slowly. He said he was indeed from India and had been in the U.S. for about ten years, working at odd jobs and providing “spiritual support.” His name was Akash. The conversation only lasted for a little over an hour but in some respects seemed like an eternity. We briefly started with the covid pandemic and then moved on to other things. What follows is my feeble attempt to summarize what he said:
According to Akash, the covid pandemic that the world is experiencing is merely one sign of the troubled state of the planet Earth. He enumerated various other signs of stress: rising temperatures, rising sea levels, more severe storms, prolonged droughts, polluted streams and rivers, toxic air, raging wildfires, destructive flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, the increasing chasm between the haves and have-nots, endless wars, and the Sixth Mass Extension where thousands of species on the planet Earth are disappearing. His brief conclusion regarding the natural disasters and the pandemic was this: Mother Earth is fighting back. Furthermore, we humans are responsible. While this did not come as news, the way he described the situation had an authenticity and alarm about it that caused me to realize how desperate the situation is and how short the time frame is for doing something about it.
“Look,” he said, “We humans have had our time in the sun. In only several hundred thousand years, we worked our way up from being in the middle of the food chain to sitting at the top of the heap and look what we have done with it. We have blown it. Sure, we have all this technology and have transformed how humans live on the planet, but at what cost? We have polluted this wonderous planet. We have caused unnecessary suffering. We have not learned how to tame our violence. We also now have had for more than 75 years the power to destroy life on this planet as we know it with our nuclear weapons; and odds are that at some point, we will do just that. But make no mistake, Mother Earth will eventually win this battle. She is now middle aged, about 4.5 billion years old, and she has about another 3-4 billion years to go before her star gives out. That is a lot of time for her to get life back in shape.
“It will turn out that our time on the planet Earth was a mere blip on the screen. Just think about it. The human population on this planet at the time of Jesus was around 300 million and remained close to that number until the Industrial Revolution. The industrial revolution began a little over 150 years ago, the technological revolution only about 50 years ago. Today the population of the planet is almost 7 billion. The “modern era” we are in now will turn out to be a mere grain of sand on a beach of over six billion grains of sand. It could all disappear in a heartbeat, or it could be a slow agonizing decline, but rest assured: It will happen. Our time on the planet Earth is limited. But Mother Earth will go on about her business with new life and new life forms.”
When he mentioned Jesus, this prompted me to ask about his religious beliefs since gurus are supposed to be wise and holy. My first question was whether he believed in God.
“I do not use the term ‘god,’ he said. It means so many different things to different people. There were people storming the Capitol on January 6 who carried crosses and said they were acting in God’s name. Some evangelical Christians believe Trump to be the son of God. The Islamist extremists who destroyed the World Trade Center on Nine Eleven did so in the name of Allah. I do not doubt their sincerity. Catholics and Protestants killed each other by the millions during the 30 Years War in Europe because each side believed the other side did not worship the true God. The list is long.
“I use the term ‘Great Spirit.’ And I believe there is a Great Spirit beyond what we humans can comprehend, and a touch of the Great Spirit resides in all of us though few of us realize this or act upon it. Some do, like Jesus, though I do not call myself a Christian because I do not believe Christians have exclusive access to the Great Spirit. The challenge we face is that we often do not realize that there is a Great Spirit or we put up barriers because we feel threatened. Ultimately, of course, the Great Spirit remains a mystery. One manifestation of the Great Spirit is the planet Earth or Mother Earth as I call her, but there are so many more, and so much that we will never fully understand. And by the way, who is to say that the Great Spirit is not present in all animals or even in all life. It is a mystery and will remain so. When humans think we have it all figured out, that is when we get into trouble.”
“So do you think that there is any value in formal religion or formal religious practice?”
“Absolutely. One destination, many pathways. The problem comes when you think your pathway is the only pathway.”
“And what about the rest of the universe? What is that all about?”
“Well, I have to tell you that anyone who thinks that life exists only on this precious though run-of-the-mill planet is blind and arrogant. And if someone says that “God” or the Great Spirit is exclusively theirs, that person is hopelessly ignorant. All this started with the Big Bang about 13.8 billion years ago. Do the arithmetic. We are one planet in a solar system circling an average star about four billion years old. We are in a smallish galaxy with many billions of other stars. Scientists now have the technology to detect planets circling other stars, and just about every star they have examined appears to have planets. There are estimated to be trillions of galaxies in the universe. Not only that, but astronomers also now estimate that in our galaxy alone there are over two billion rocky planets about the same distance from their star as the Earth is from the sun. And astronomers, philosophers and theologians are still unsure whether any life exists elsewhere in the universe? Please.
“The challenge, of course, is the great distance between stars and the likely limited life spans of so-called intelligent beings, that is, creatures smart like us, who end up eventually blowing themselves up just when they think they have it all together. But remember: The ultimate reality will remain a mystery, and that is all well and good.”
When I realized I had been with this extraordinary person for over an hour and did not want to wear out my welcome, I thanked him profusely and told him I would be back for more. I had so many more questions to ask. He bowed, shook my hand, and thanked me for coming.
When a couple of days later I returned to knock on his door, there was no answer. When I asked the front desk if they had seen the occupant of that apartment recently, the clerk responded that the apartment had been vacant for over a month, and a new tenant was supposed to move in next week.
A fake story by Joseph Howell
July 27, 2022