And so it was that the devotee was so enamored of his Master that he fashioned his whole life after him. Wherever he walked, that was where the devotee wanted to be. He clung to every word, watched every expression, attempted to glean the subtleties of all the wisdoms the Wise One spoke. And when he was not physically near the object of his adoration, his heart was there, doting on how wonderful it would be to be in his Divine Presence.
One day the Master walked by the devotee’s place of work, and the devotee, in a moment of exhilaration at catching unexpected sight of his master, ran after him. He ran close, tagging at his heels, almost catching the bottom of the master’s robe in his hand. So immersed was he in his persuit that he did not notice the large root of a tree in the path, which reached up and snagged his ankle. Suddenly the devotee was off balance, careening headlong into the earth, making a thud on impact and raising a large cloud of dust.
The Master turned around, surprised by the commotion. The devotee looked up sheepishly, covered in dust, and exclaimed, “Oh Master, I am so ashamed, so ashamed that I have so foolishly fallen – fallen in your Presence!”
The Master smiled, and compassionately said, “No, my son, you have not fallen in my presence. You have fallen in Your own Divine Presence.”
The devotee was puzzled at the Master’s statement, thinking, “Whatever can this mean? Fallen in my own Divine Presence? What can this possibly mean?”
And he spent the rest of his days pondering these words, using them as a koan, a mantra, and during his last moments in the physical he was still thinking of the Master and the meaning of his words.
And many lifetimes later, this same devotee found himself a small boy, in fact, in the same village. He had a special fondness for a young girl, who never failed to make his heart glow warmly and his eyes to become blind to all sights but of her. And as the little girl walked along the path, the boy excitedly ran after her, so happy to be close to her presence.
And suddenly a root from a tree reached up in the path, grabbed the boy by the ankle and toppled him, head over heals, into a pile of dust at the girl’s feet.
And she turned and saw the boy, in a heap and covered with dust, and laughed, “You silly boy, look at you, you are so foolish, you have fallen in my presence!”
And the boy rose quickly, brushed himself, and stood tall, saying, “Yes, I have fallen, but I have fallen in my Own Divine Presence!” And he laughed and put his hand over his mouth, wondering where this strange manner of speaking had come from.
The girl looked at him, and the boy looked back at her. And suddenly there was the recognition of a long forgotten but so familiar gaze, of someone he had adored and lost long ago; he viewed Himself.
And as he glanced about at the other children who had gathered, he saw the many reflections of Himself, all looking on, gazing with amazing compassion, at the dusty boy who finally remembered that he had fallen, fallen in his Own Divine Presence.