Out of Many, One – The only man that ever treated me like a father was a commune-mate from the San Francisco days named Antonio. I called him Uncle Tony, and he began visiting us once a year wherever we were. Tony was deeply spiritual and practiced a form of self-taught Hinduism. He put me to sleep by chanting the Gayatri Mantra by my bedside. He pronounced the Vedic Sanskrit with a soft Spanish accent that made the mantra sound like gently bubbling water. I could feel myself beginning to drift into the dream world, gliding on the currents of his prayers. “Why do you say that mantra over me?” I mumbled. He answered: “I have to say it every night to keep you safe, to make your dreams come true.” I asked: “But what if I don’t see you again?” He assured me: “I’ll say the mantra for you every night whether we’re together or not. Wherever you are in the world, you’ll be able to hear my voice when you go to sleep.” Uncle Tony's faith inspired me deeply, but something about the way he'd loosely adopted someone else's tradition rang hollow for me. And the cosmos of various Indian deities seemed inaccessible and confusing.
photo credit: Daniel Kim
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