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The Image: Another desert landscape. There are a number of students sitting in a semicircle on the sand, in the shelter of a cliff. Rama is at the center of the semicircle, his back to the students, hands raised to the sky, palms outward. In the sky, exactly where his hands are pointing, is an enormous donut, frosted in white, covered with sprinkles.

We're in the gorge. It's my first desert trip, and I'm doing everything I can to be underwhelmed by all this mysticism stuff. We've walked and walked and walked down this long canyon, stopping now and then to meditate and watch Rama do his magic act for us. And I'm having somewhat of an ambivalent reaction to all this.

Sometimes it seems as if something is happening the sky will change color slightly or Rama will seem to float above the ground as he walks around in front of us. He'll say he's going to "call up the wind" and sure enough, a gust of wind comes along, right on cue. Many of the students ooh and aah as if they see these things clearly, but for me, they're just the barest suggestion of a phenomenon, and the instant I notice one and concentrate harder to make sure it's really there, the phenomenon fades and it really isn't!

So my mind is doing this flip/flop either I have nothing going on in the subtle vision department or there's really nothing going on, period when Rama does the cloud trick. Although it's late in the evening, it's still quite light out, and the winds high overhead have been zipping small, compact little clouds past us. Rama looks up into the sky, picks one small, billowy cloud, and points it out to us. He raises both of his arms and aims his palms at the cloud. It stops. Not the other clouds surrounding it, mind you, just the one he pointed out to us.

Rama is silent for a while, and when he speaks, he tells us that he has had a conversation with the cloud. He has explained to it that we are his students, and that if the cloud would allow Rama to dissolve its existence, it would be of great benefit to our welfare. The cloud has reluctantly agreed. Rama points out that this involves no small sacrifice on its part, and that we should appreciate the gesture.

"Watch carefully. Rama stands there holding the cloud against the wind with his upraised hands, and then he begins to whistle, blowing air lightly through his pursed lips. In a few seconds, the cloud begins to dissolve, from the inside out. First it starts to thin out in the middle, and then a hole develops in its center. We can see the sky through the now donut-shaped cloud. Rama continues to bombard the cloud with whatever energies can do a thing like this, and it continues to dissolve until, after a few minutes, the cloud is completely gone. So, at least for the evening, are my doubts.



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