I keep thinking about the clown and the saint.

It’s a story shared in Jan Frazier’s “When Fear Falls Away” about an evening when Baba Muktananda (a spiritual teacher and master) was offering darshan (a blessing that is given from a guru to a disciple). Devotees were lined up to have a turn to kneel before Muktananda and receive his gift. A whisp from the feathers he held, fanning the air of enlightenment that circled him, and one could possibly be opened to a window of new consciousness. A heightened connection to God, bestowed.

So in Frazier’s telling, there was this darshan taking place, an air of reverence there for all devotees in this sacred ceremony. Everyone dressed to their best as they prepared to come into the presence of this Master. And as the line moved along, each person making their way to Muktananda, there came into view a clown. Yes, a bonafide clown. Or at least a man dressed up as one. Bright polka dot suit, ruffled collar, white face paint and those huge, red, painted-on lips. His eyes, thick, with expressive clown make-up.

As the story goes, when the clown came before Muktananda, people began to laugh.

“…Everyone in and around the darshan line was laughing…everyone, that is, but Baba. Baba was just swishing his peacock feathers over the crown of the curly orange wig bent before him- just as he did with anyone who came up in the darshan line. Now the clown had raised up on his knees to face Baba. The guru was looking into the clown’s eyes, into the pupils at the centers of the bright red circles like bull’s eyes, looking deeply into this man who had made himself (for whatever reason) into a clown.

Finally, Baba sat back in his chair, seeming a little confused by all the laughter. He leaned down to {his translator} and asked her in their native tongue what everyone was laughing at.

{The translator said} ‘Why Baba, don’t you see? The man is dressed as a clown!’

Then Baba looked again at the man- looked, it may be, with his ordinary eyes, his merely organic eyes. It was only then that he saw the external of the person- the clown costume of him. And then Baba laughed, joining the others in the good time.

…{initially} when Baba looked at that man, he really and truly did not see a clown.”

(excerpt from Jan Frazier’s “When Fear Falls Away“)

This story of the clown and guru keeps coming back to me as I contemplate perception. Was Baba Muktananda looking with his third eye? What was he seeing when he looked at the clown? What was he seeing as he lived his days on earth?

What do each of us see through our own unique filter of perception? Quite possibly, very different worlds, often living the assumption that everyone sees what we see.

As I’ve pondered this clown story, the tune of a little song comes trailing to my mind. Its origins melded with childhood memories, its source, unknown.

That’s about the size
where you put your eyes
that’s about the size of it

With technology on my side, the world-wide web and a search engine bring me to an old segment from Sesame Street. I don’t recall the visuals, I only remember the chorus of the song that I heard as a child on television, probably, 25 years ago. I think Sesame Street was on to something. And I’m glad to see that the sentiment took root within me, still profound today.

Who would have thought that clowns, Sesame Street, and ascended masters could all connect to deliver a profound message on perception. Goes to show…that’s about the size…

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