Remembering Tansen brings such a smile to my face. He reminded me of the Zen Buddhist Oxherder panels that depict the road to enlightenment. The final panel shows the enlightened one spreading flower petals (blessings) wherever he went and this was what it was like to be with Tansen.
I had the good fortune to spend ten blessed years with Tansen including his last precious moment on earth. We had something that I called a “living marriage” where we tended our marriage like a garden and renewed our vows constantly.
Tansen used to love to say the word “Terrific!” when asked how he was doing. He loved how it made his body feel and often would remind me that we didn’t “have the luxury of a negative thought.” Another one of his favorite sayings was “Don’t Impress Yourself!” He was very committed to keeping his soul free from negative impressions.
Tansen epitomized the path that Murshid spoke about when he described duty and religion as parallel paths that both lead to God. Tansen was joyously devoted to service at all times. In fact, Pir Vilayat openly recognized him as a saint. I have the rare good fortune to corroborate Pir Vilayat’s observation. Tansen literally never had an unkind word to say about anybody at anytime. And he didn’t think any unkind thoughts either. He was very disciplined that way.
One of the first times that I noticed what a paradise it was to live with Tansen, was when we were stuck in the LAX airport. We were planning on taking a trip to Hawaii (my first trip!) We got up at 4am to catch the airport shuttle to arrive at the airport by 6. Our plane was scheduled to depart by 8. Instead, we encountered one delay after another. By 4pm the other passengers were so enraged I felt that we were in serious danger of being in a riot situation.
In stark contrast, Tansen exuded unwavering calm and good cheer. We enjoyed each others company and entertained ourselves beautifully. We didn’t actually board the plane until 11 pm but by that time, I realized that I didn’t need to go anywhere to be in paradise. To have the good fortune to enjoy Tansen’s heavenly presence was a paradise in itself.
On this day, Thanksgiving Day, I remain forever grateful for Tansen.
Elizabeth “Elsa” Weber-Fraley