God’s Secret Agents: Playing “The Divine Romance” in the Airport
January 18, 2011
I was standing in the Baggage Claim section of the San Jose (CA) airport when I heard an unexpected sound. Someone was tentatively playing a few keys on a piano, like a tunesmith toying with a melody. Looking around a corner, I spied a baby grand situated in the middle of an open space. As I approached, a man seated there got up and walked away.
There was a sign on the piano: “Feel free to play, no experience or skills required!” And a memory came to mind of Swami Kriyananda playing his exquisite sonata, “The Divine Romance,” years ago on a piano at the Ananda Meditation Retreat temple.
I know that sonata, I thought. At least the first movement. I’d memorized it years ago.
Dare I try it? I’m no piano player — the foot pedals, for example, are a complete cipher to me — yet that sign said, “No experience or skills required.”
And then, another memory came to me. “God’s secret agents.” Smiling, I sat on the piano bench, spread my fingers on the keys, and began tickling the ivories.
“God’s secret agents” is a term coined many years ago by Haridas Blake, an Ananda minister. The basic idea behind this concept is for devotees to act as instruments of God whenever and wherever opportunities arise. An essential aspect of the practice is that no one would know of your real intent — thus, turning you into a “secret agent.”
I have experimented with this practice over the years and have always found it deeply worthwhile. I can also attest from personal experience that the more one practices it, the more opportunities one finds for being a hidden instrument of God in daily life — opportunities laid, so to speak, on one’s doorstep.
Like that piano in the airport…
“God’s Call Within” was flowing more smoothly now. A few glitches here or there — no one would mistake me for a maestro — but the melody was definitely recognizable. I was even hitting the keys with more force at times to emphasize a particular phrase.
This was not the first time I’d used Swami’s music to meet my clandestine purposes. Once, while on a train in the Midwest, I sat next to a man holding a violin case. The violinist, obviously proud of his heritage and gifts (he played in concerts), was also a lover of great music.
Discovering that the man was also a fan of Handel’s Messiah, I wrote down his name and address and sent him, from Swamiji’s Handel-like Holy Land Oratorio, the score for “Lord, Let This Cup Pass From Me” — the most beautiful duet for violin and cello I have ever heard.
Finishing the first movement, I commended my soul to God and started in on the second, rendering the melody through a combination of single notes and chords.
Da-da Da-da-da. Da-da Da-da-da…
No one approached to point a finger and laugh. I bent my head to concentrate on the music.
Speaking of Swami Kriyananda’s music, a friend of mine did something interesting. Noticing that a disciple of this path had a deep, bass voice, he sent the man a recording of Swami singing “Life Flows On Like a River” (a melody inspired by St. Francis of Assisi), knowing that hearing Swamiji hit the really low, basso profundo notes of that song, he would be compelled to see if he could hit them, too.
Definitely a covert operation.
Intent on finishing, I continued on with the sensitively beautiful third movement, still picking away with single notes and chords:
“Lord, I long to see Thee…. Lord, I long to see.”
Swami’s music is a good means of sharing God in a hidden way. Music speaks to the soul, bypassing the often over-intellectual Western mind. And Swami’s melodies cover such a wide variety of musical interests. There’s something there for everyone.
At last, the beautiful sonata came to the end. A few notes here, an extended chord there, and it was over — finishing on the same note with which it began.
I looked around. A small group of travelers were gathered around the piano, sitting quietly.
A man stood up and approached me. His face lit with a bright smile, he whispered, “Bless you!”
God’s secret agents strike again!
Their mission: to infiltrate the world with a hidden divine influence.
Who knows where they will next perform their heavenly, but stealthy activities?