Resources of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition

Swami Rama - The Surgeon Swami

The molehole was crackling with work. There was the newsletter, just past its due date, to complete and rush to press. There were the new office forms that needed approval and delivery, and there was, of course, the new cookbook, taking more time than originally scheduled. I was behind with all this work. My office - usually referred to as the molehole - was a tiny eight foot by six-foot room hidden behind the kitchen. It was always stacked with work in spite of the many hours I spent there typesetting, designing, and directing Himalayan Institute publications.

It had been a long day full of surprises that we had not planned for. The guest whom Swamiji had asked to proof a camera-ready book chapter had circled all her favorite sentences with red ink, not realizing that her enthusiasm meant my resetting all those pages. The heat and humidity of the day had shut down our small press in the garage since the machines wee unable to lift all the curled paper edges. The main office desperately deeded some new forms and had just buzzed me for the fourth time that day to get them.

My artist assistant, Bala, stood at her counter-desk drawing lines with ruler and pen, exasperatingly shaking the pen between strokes to keep the black ink flowing in the early evening heat. She threw her long hair over her shoulder and sighed.

"Are you all right?" I asked as I stood at my desk, cutting a typeset form into sections to fit the required space. My left hand held the ruler against the sheet as my right hand held the sharp exacto knife to slice the margins down to size. I, too, was tired and wished only for the long day to end so I could rest at the feet of my spiritual teacher and listen to his stories as I usually did every evening.

My mind strayed just enough to leave my work for a moment. That was all that was needed. My right hand whisked down against the ruler with a strong quick movement, and cut off the tip of the finger that strayed a quarter inch over the ruler edge it held.

"OH!" I exclaimed as I dropped the knife. "Oh, I cut myself"!

Bala took one look at the blood pouring out over the counter top as I tried to find the part I had cut off. She pulled me out of the room and said in a frightened voice, "Let's go find Swamiji!"

Halfway down the long hallway, we saw our teacher's office door open and watched him walk quickly towards us. He grabbed my truncated finger in his fist, held it tight, and put his arms around me just before I fainted.

"Don't go away, Tree!" he whispered to me, calling me back to reality. "You'll be all right." Then he ordered the gathering staff, "Bring a small glass of water."

His words steadied the swaying walls and stopped the strange sounds in my ears. Still holding tightly to my finger, he dunked it in the little glass of water. I heard him mutter a few Sanskrit words under his breath. He reached for the bandages and then barely letting go of my finger, he wrapped it round and round in layers of gauze, knotting the ends firmly at my wrist.

"You go home now, Tree," he said gently "and come to me in the morning."

My husband came from the class he was teaching and drove us to our apartment. I went right to bed and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Early the next morning I awoke feeling fine and was curious to see what damage I had done to my finger. Gently I unwrapped the layers of gauze to find a surprise. The missing top of my finger had grown completely back, the pain gone, and I once again had a perfect typing finger.

"Tree," Swamiji said as I walked into his house an hour later, "I have some important typing for you to do. Can you begin immediately?"

I was only too happy to oblige.