Ambassador of Kwan | Deep End | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Deep End

Ambassador of Kwan

Huntsman ponders his presidential aspirations.


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“Utah’s governor’s mansion was probably the only one in the country to celebrate the Hindu holiday of Diwali.” —Jon Huntsman Jr. [The Daily Beast, Feb. 1]

I was not all that surprised to see my old rock & roll buddy Jon (he played the sitar in our band, Shiva and the Young Yogis, which enjoyed 15 minutes of fame back in the ’70s) make a reference to his Hindu faith in an interview recently. After all, it was clear that, at some point, he would have to shed his Mormon garments and come out of the Hindu closet.

Quite frankly, I didn’t think he would let the cat out of the bag so soon, but timing is everything, and Jon Jr. saw an opportunity, while his name is still shining, news-wise, in the national psyche, to seize the moment to differentiate himself from my old missionary companion, “Mit” Romney, who, if truth be told, is about ready to bust a gasket, vexed as he is with all the attention his fellow Melchizedek priesthood holder is getting.

Mit has always been sensitive about my friendship with Jon Jr., but since it precedes our time together in the mission field (Paris, France—the two best years of my life), Mit tries to bite his tongue when the subject of Jon and me comes up. So, deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, I didn’t tell Mit about Jon Jr. inviting me to Washington a couple of weeks ago when he accompanied the Chinese Premier Hu to the White House. I hope Mit doesn’t read this, because I really don’t want to get one of his petulant, self-pitying late-night phone calls. Sometimes, my old missionary companion can be hard work.

Anyway, it was good to catch up with Jon Jr. A Secret Service bloke gave me a quick frisk and ushered me into the posh hotel suite. As is his wont, Jon Jr. was standing on his head (actually it was the asana known as the sirshasana, which is a modified headstand). He was wearing a regulation loincloth—back in the old days he did yoga in the nude, which occasionally gave rise to some embarrassing situations.

“Hey, Yogi, what’s new?” Jon Jr. greeted me with the moniker we have used for each other ever since we studied meditation with Swami Yogananda Paramahansa in an ashram just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, way back in 1973.

“Not much, Yogi, how about you?” Of course, I knew a lot was new with Jon Jr., having just seen him smiling like the cat that ate the parakeet when President Obama joked in the press conference about Jon Jr.’s prospects as a Republican presidential nominee.

“So, are you really running for president in 2012?” I asked.

My yoga buddy was now in the lotus position, fully engaged in sukh purvak, or alternate nostril breathing. After a long exhalation through his right nostril, Jon Jr. cast his gaze out through the large picture window that afforded a spectacular view of Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House.

“You know as well as I, Yogi, that our finite selves are just waves on the infinite sea of being. If I find myself riding a presidential wave, I’ll let it carry me toward the shore, where I’ll either be tossed off like a rookie surfer, or hang 10 to the White House. It’s not up to me. As the Bhagavad Gita teaches us, ‘Do without attachment the work you have to do.’ ” Jon Jr. now began pranayama, or complete breath, expanding his diaphragm to deeply inhale, in the process, of course, also massaging his inner organs and sending oxygen-rich blood to his large intestine.

“OK, but you must be aware that a lot of the folks out in Utah are not all that happy with the Hindu stuff. Couldn’t you put your Mormon faith in a blind trust, like Brother Romney? Why get the Saints all riled up?”

“Diverse are the ways of God,” said Jon, Jr., serenely, quoting his favorite swami, Sri Ramakrisna. “All paths lead to God, just as we can ascend to the top of a house by means of a ladder or a bamboo or a staircase or a rope or the iron rod of Lehi.”

Jon Jr. was soon in a deep state of meditation, so I sneaked from the room and immediately put a call into Mit. His only chance to beat Yogi Huntsmanahansa was to take up Buddhism as soon as possible.