Fasten Your Seat Belts!
I should tell you this, probably. A little over a week ago, the plane I was travelling in almost crashed. It happened during Samyama, I was to travel in the morning for a conference in Kollam in Kerala, and return in the afternoon to make the evening session. Last year, the organizers fixed this conference for me, but on that day there was Samyama and I said, ‘No, I cannot come,’ and I called it off. So at that time only, they fixed this year’s date, ‘Sadhguru this is the date next year. We are fixing it for you. Let’s do it.’ I said, ‘Okay, next year I won’t miss it.’
Samyama was supposed to be before Shivarathri, but because of various situations, the construction situation, and for the convenience of people who come from outside the country, we postponed Mahabharat from December to February, and pushed Samyama post Mahashivarathri. So once again, the date of the conference coincided with Samyama, but I had agreed a year ago. In fact, one and half years ago. So I said, ‘I will do it, but if I drive and come back it will take two days. It’s a nine, ten hour drive. So please fly me there and get me back in the afternoon.’ The idea was to leave at four o’clock in the morning and be back by one o’clock.
We took off from Coimbatore, it was a small, little twin engine propeller aircraft, not a jet craft. A four seater, three passengers and two pilots. We flew to Trivandrum where we would have to land and drive another hour and half before we got to the conference. As we were approaching the airport, I saw both the pilots, young pilots -- both of them had gone cold and frozen. I looked at them; I sensed fear by the chemistry of it. Then I asked, ‘Something wrong?’ ‘No Sir, no Sir.’ Then I knew something was really wrong. After some time, he was still desperately trying to manually work the hydraulics. Then I knew the landing gear was not opening up. I looked around, lots of water in Kerala. So I asked him, ‘Should I wear my swimming trunks, tell me?’ He said, ‘No Sir, no Sir,’ and I watched him work the hydraulics desperately; no result, obviously.
There was a very important person travelling with me and also Kumar. They were discussing something, and Kumar doesn’t like to wear a seat belt. After all, it is a private plane, nobody to insist you must wear a seat belt. Then I told Kumar and the other person, ‘Please tighten your seat belts, really, so that you’re glued to the seat. Wearing a seat belt is not a formality today, it’s a real thing.’ So we all tightened up.
The problem with me is, if there is an emergency it excites me, and with a big smile I am telling them, ‘The landing gear is not working.’ I said, ‘The best thing is to land in the back waters, but the pilot will not listen to us. He will listen only to the ATC, the Air Traffic Control. They are insisting that we land on the tarmac without the wheels. It is a little plane, the moment it hits the tarmac it will go…It will tear up like paper.’ Then I told them, ‘The left wheel has not opened up; the right one has opened up. Now the pilot’s problem is he cannot close the right one if he wants to. The hydraulics have failed; he cannot open the left one, he cannot close the right one.’
See…it was a little plane, if the pilot tries to go on one wheel, the first thing is the left wing engine will hit the ground, the engine will fly off. If it flies off, we don’t care. If it flies in, we will really get a roaring hit. And anyway, the plane cannot land at a lesser speed. The lowest speed it can land at is ninety kilometers, the average is ninety to hundred and ten kilometers. ‘It’s a little plane, it’s going to break up.’ I said, ‘Hang on to your seats. See if you can slide on the seat; otherwise, if you roll to the right side, the right hand will go first. If you roll to the left side, the left hand will go first. One thing is, make sure your legs are up so that you will walk. Maybe you won’t write. You will walk.’
I was thinking whether to go on the right side or left side, right hand means I can’t write, I can’t paint. Left hand means I can’t golf. So I was just thinking, maybe right hand is better. But not everyone understood that it was a real emergency. So I pointed down and said, ‘See, look at that.’ Fire engines were already flashing lights, ambulances were ready, it was a full scale emergency; they stopped the air traffic, and pilots were blabbering away on their radios. Then we decided to fly low so that the ATC could see whether our wheels were down or not, because we did not know. Then the ATC said, ‘The wheels are down, but we can’t see whether it will hold up or not, whether the struts are in place or not.’
The pilots were sweating and frozen, not saying a word, so I said, ‘Won’t they allow water landing, or can’t you off-load us in the water? If you fly low, we will jump.’ We would swim, it was not such a big deal. Suppose it was the Coimbatore airport, there is no place to jump; you would have to go with the plane. But it’s Kerala, all around there is water. So I said, ‘Let’s make use of it.’ And he said, ‘No, I have to go by the ATC instruction.’
Seeing fire engines and ambulances, it sank into everyone that it is a real emergency, this is not a joke. But probably, my face was not depicting that it’s an emergency. I was very excited, something is going to happen. I said, ‘Today is not my day. So landing, crash landing, water landing -- whatever happens, maybe we won’t make it to the conference, maybe there will be injuries, but today is not my day. So, because it is not my day, maybe it is not your day.’ I was not concerned, my little finger goes off or my hand goes off, we will see. Then we landed; all these fire engines, ambulances, emergency jeeps, everything followed us on the tarmac. It landed, they braked immediately and stopped right there because they feared anytime the hydraulics will give in.
So, big excitement. By that time, we had been going round and round the airport for one hour. Our meditators had SMSed each other, ‘Sadhguru is going to crash.’ A big crowd gathered, crying. Then we went to the conference. The conference organizer was crying because they sent the airplane. Then we get into the lift…and the lift got stuck. We got off the lift and climbed up the stairs and the conference went great, it was a very important conference.
We finished and then we found that this plane was not ready to fly because they couldn’t fix it. So they called another little airplane, which is a jet craft. We came and sat in it, and as soon as we sat down, Kumar wore the seat belt. So I am looking out of the window, some fool is filling up aviation fuel on the wing tip. On the wing, there is an opening on both wings, an auxiliary tank and the regular tank. He is filling up the main tank first. I am watching him. After some time, he did something and this aviation fuel is spraying like a fountain. Almost fifty to hundred liters of fuel all over the place, spraying over the airplane, on my window. Then I looked and said, ‘Kumar, take off your seat belt. Anytime, we may have to run.’
Then that guy finishes it and the pilot gets excited, hopping mad all over the place. He calls the ATC and again they come, screaming sirens. If you fire the engine, the whole place will go up in flames. Then ten people pushed the airplane half a kilometer away, then wiped the plane clean of all the fuel, then they start the engines and I came back for Samyama by evening.
See, this is my problem. Most serious things, if I tell people with a smile on my face, they don’t understand it is serious. Whether it is about a crash landing or enlightenment, they don’t get it. You have to cry; then they will understand it is serious. But I don’t cry out of fear or pain, I cry out of joy. I can’t cry when things are serious. When things are serious, somewhere within me, it all gets so hilarious because the most amazing thing upon this planet is -- people go about as if they are eternal.
Miss Fate did her best but her level of efficiency is not good enough to get me on a day like this. I’ve miles to go before I sleep…