My grandfather, Phil Maita, was old school. Urban legends surrounded him like conspiracy theories around the current pandemic.
For example, years after my grandfather had passed away my father picked up Dharmadevi and me from the airport. As he was driving my Dad pointed out an old industrial building we were passing.
“Philip, you see that building…Your grandfather couldn’t read or write and he walked in there and gave them an estimate of how much pipe they needed within a foot!” Grandpa was a plumber and apparently had an intuitive ability to tell you how much plumbing was needed without measurement.
When you worked with Grandpa, he was in charge. Whatever the job, my brother and I always played the supportive role. I remember when I was a young boy and he asked me for the plumber’s wrench. A cold wave of fear came over me and I drew a blank.
“My God,” I thought, “he’s a plumber and I forgot which one is the plumber’s wrench!” So I brought him the entire toolbox!
There was another time my brother and I were helping him in our basement on a hot summer afternoon. We were having trouble with the sump pump. Along with it being temperature hot, grandpa was getting a little bit frustrated. At this time my grandmother and mother were upstairs cooking in the kitchen.
All of a sudden as my grandfather was sweating and trying to sink the pliers onto a valve he screamed out in exasperation:
“Mary, can’t you see I need a drink!”
She was upstairs. How would she know he needed a drink?! We got a good laugh out of that one for years.
To this day I learned one of the most powerful lessons in my life from my grandfather. At the time I was about 11 years old and we were doing demolition together. My job was rather mundane. I was taking nails out of a wall with a hammer. Pretty straightforward (except for the bending nails). After about ten minutes, I felt pretty confident and had a number of old nails in my left hand and the hammer in my right hand.
As fate would have it, the next nail I tried to remove wouldn’t budge. For the life of me, I could not extract it from the stud. Sheepishly, I went over to my grandfather to confess.
Softly I said, “Grandpa…I can’t get this nail out of the wall.”
After a pregnant pause, he turned to me and said with mock belief that was not meant to conceal sarcasm:
Just two words but they were fraught with meaning. Even at my young age, I knew Grandpa was about to give me a lesson. He walked over to the nail in question and with great might he gripped his hammer with both his hands as if wielding a mace against a foe.
This time he yelled:
‘THAT’S ‘CAUSE YOU”RE NOT USING BOTH YOUR HANDS!!!”
Right at the end of his declaration he ripped the nail out of the wall with such force it went flying into the air. Time slowed down for me. I saw the nail in mid air rotate end over end finally landing on the floor. Quietly, he went back to his work area. That was the end of our conversation. I stood there speechless. He had just dropped some knowledge (and a nail) on me.
I’ll never forget the lesson: Use both your hands!
Years later when I came onto the spiritual path my grandfather had already passed away. But to this day, I bow at his feet with plumbers wrench in one hand and hammer in another (Just kidding, Grandpa, I’ve got both my hands on the hammer!).
Try applying the “both hands” technique to your meditation. When you sit to meditate, mean business with God. Plunge yourself into the infinite and say, “Lord, I love you with my whole heart, mind, soul, and strength.”
The nail of our karma is jammed into the board. It doesn’t matter how deep the nail is sunk. Keep pulling with both your hands until you are unfettered in Him alone.