I received this in my Daily Buddhism email this morning and just love it and wanted to share it.
The Man on the Subway:
by Philip Miller
Last night I had one of those rare "New York Moments" that intersected
with the spiritual plane.
I had boarded my customary E Train at West Fourth Street and
proceeding uptown to 42nd Street and the Port Authority Bus Terminal
for my ride home to New Jersey. The train was packed, as usual, and
most of my fellow passengers who were seated were either immersed in
their newspapers or books or were dosing, and those who were standing
were holding on for dear life in that packed train.
At the next stop, 14th Street, an African American gentleman got on.
He stood about 6'4, built like a linebacker, and was nattily dressed
in a modish suit, the kind that one might expect to see worn to church
on Sunday. Even before the doors closed he began to harangue the
passengers like a Bible-belt preacher in a mellifluous and stentorian
The passengers, typical New Yorkers, seemed unruffled by this
distraction on their commute home., and I admit, I too wanted to tune
But his voice boomed over the noise of the train and I found myself
straining to catch what he was saying. Before we reached 42nd Street I
heard him say:
"You are probably wondering when I am going to pass the hat. Well, I
am not. I only want you to do one thing for me. Please look at the
person sitting or standing next to you and recognize the image of God
in that person's face. Each face carries the beauty of God. We are all
kind to our family and friends. But think about the beauty of God in
that stranger next to you, and realize whatever kindness or selfless
act you perform for ANY stranger only increases God's beauty in you. I
am not asking for money. Only for you to see God everywhere and in
everyone around you."
At 42nd Street he bounded off the train and walked with such enormous
strides that I was completely unable to keep up with him, let alone
reach to thank him for allowing me that moment of Grace.
No, he did not preach in the name of Buddha, but his words were
Wikipedia defines Dharma [upper case] as "a ... spiritual and
religious term that means one's righteous duty, or any virtuous path
in the common sense of the term..." Further on, it says that it
"contextually implies one's religion..., " and is presented as a
central concept that is used in order to explain the 'higher truth' or
ultimate reality of the universe.
It was once explained to me that dharma [lower case] at its root had
nothing to do with religion and simply means "experience; event;
happening." As such, anything and everything that happens to us is
"dharma," and our Karma determines our "dharma."
The wise person learns from every experience, event, or happening, for
even something that externally may appear to be negative has a
The "dharma = experience" of hearing this gentleman at that time and
place, as well as the message he brought was clearly "Dharma."
About two weeks after this happened, I was on the E Train going uptown
at about the same time. As I alighted at 42nd Street I found myself in
the passageway next to this same gentleman. He had obviously been on a
different car of the same train.
This time I stopped him and thanks him for his message. Squeezing my
hand in his, he replied, "How can you thank me for something you
With than, he leaned forward, kissed me on the cheek, released my
hand, and bounded away.
Phil doesn't have a website, but if you post comments below, he'll be
sure to see them.
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