Take a look at the world. Poverty is everywhere with people subjected to the squalor of poverty; subjected to its misery, the disease that festers in it. Do you call that life?  Well, I’ve got news for you. I can show you life even there. A few years back, I was introduced to a rickshaw puller in Calcutta. It’s an awful way to earn a living. It is one human being pulling another human being who is seated in the back of a cart called a rickshaw. The lifespan of these poor men is about a decade or less, once they begin pulling the rickshaw.  The toll on their bodies is too much. It wears them out, makes them susceptible to disease, and leads to an early grave. The rickshaw driver I met was named Ramchandra. Poor Ramchandra already had TB.

 At that time in Calcutta, there was a criminal group engaged in an illegal activity that exported human skeletons. They bought a man’s skeleton while he was still alive. If the man was very poor, he went to them and sold his skeleton for about $10. These criminals would ask the rickshaw pullers, “How long have you been working in the street?”  Someone like Ramchandra would reply, “Nine years, maybe more,” and these buyers would think that he doesn’t have much longer to live and they would give him the money. The moment one of these men died the criminal group would pounce on the body. They would take it and process it down to a skeleton and sell it to medical schools for an enormous price.  Ramchandra had sold his skeleton. He needed the money, that’s how poor he was. He had a wife, he had children, and he had the squalor, the poverty, the misery, the uncertainty. You would never think to find happiness there. Right? Yet there was happiness right there in the midst of all that. Ramchandra was happy. Nothing seemed to faze Ramchandra. He was all right. Nothing seemed to upset him.

One day I said to him. “Aren’t you upset?” He said. “About what?”

“About your future, the future of the kids.”

He said, “I am doing the best I can. The rest is in the hands of God.”

 I said, “What about your sickness? It causes you suffering, doesn’t it?

He said, “Yes it does a bit but we have to take life as it comes to us.”  That was his attitude

 I never once found him in a bad mood. It made no sense to me given his situation. Then one day when we were talking I suddenly realized I was in the presence of a mystic.

I suddenly realized I was in the presence of life it was right there. He was alive. Most people are dead by comparison.  Remember those lovely words of Jesus. “Look at the birds of the air, look at the lillies of the field. They don’t sow, they don’t spin, they don’t have a moment of anxiety for the future.”   Ramchandra was living those lovely words; an extraordinary person. He had discovered life.