Posted in Collections, Short story & Passages

Moderation

A beautiful zen story:


An aged monk, who had lived a long and active life, was assigned a chaplain’s role at an academy for girls. In discussion groups he often found that the subject of love became a central topic. This comprised his warning to the young women:

“Understand the danger of anything-too-much in your lives. Too much anger in combat can lead to recklessness and death. Too much ardor in religious beliefs can lead to close-mindedness and persecution.

Too much passion in love creates dream images of the beloved – images that ultimately prove false and generate anger. To love too much is to lick honey from the point of a knife.”

“But as a celibate monk,” asked one young woman, “how can you know of love between a man and a woman?”
“Sometime, dear children,” replied the old teacher, “I will tell you why I became a monk.”

~*~

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Posted in Collections, Short story & Passages

The Garbage Truck Story

One day, I hopped into a taxi and took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly, a black car, jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed the brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. I mean, he was really friendly. So I asked, “Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!” This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck’

He explained, “Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they’ll dump it on you. NEVER take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on with the routine life.” Don’t take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home or on the streets.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life’s too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so…… ‘Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don’t.’

  • As very rightly said quote:- Life is 10% what you make and 90% how you take!
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Posted in Collections, Short story & Passages

The Sound of One Hand

The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protege named Toyo who was only twelve years old. Toyo saw the older disciples visit the master’s room each morning and evening to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidance in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering. Toyo wished to do sanzen also.

“Wait a while,” said Mokurai. “You are too young.”

But the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented. In the evening little Toyo went at the proper time to the threshold of Mokurai’s sanzen room. He struck the gong to announce his presence, bowed respectfully three times outside the door, and went to sit before the master in respectful silence.

“You can hear the sound of two hands when they clap together,” said Mokurai. “Now show me the sound of one hand.”

Toyo bowed and went to his room to consider this problem. From his window he could hear the music of the geishas. “Ah, I have it!” he proclaimed.

The next evening, when his teacher asked him to illustrate the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.

“No, no,” said Mokurai. “That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You’ve not got it at all.”

Thinking that such music might interrupt, Toyo moved his abode to a quiet place. He meditated again. “What can the sound of one hand be?” He happened to hear some water dripping. “I have it,” imagined Toyo.

When he next appeared before his teacher, Toyo imitated dripping water.

“What is that?” asked Mokurai. “That is the sound of dripping water, but not the sound of one hand. Try again.”

In vain Toyo meditated to hear the sound of one hand. He heard the sighing of the wind. But the sound was rejected.He heard the cry of an owl. This also was refused. The sound of one hand was not the locusts. For more than ten times Toyo visited Mokurai with different sounds. All were wrong. For almost a year he pondered what the sound of one hand might be.

At last little Toyo entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. “I could collect no more,” he explained later, “so I reached the soundless sound.”

Toyo had realized the sound of one hand.

Posted in Collections, Short story & Passages

A Pair of Mustachios

There are various kinds of mustachios worn in my country to make the boundaries between the various classes of people. Outsiders may think it stupid to lay down, or rather to raise, lines of demarcation of this kind, but we are notorious in the whole world for sticking to our queer old conventions, prides and prejudices, even as the Chinese or the Americans, or, for that matter the English… And, at any rate, some people may think it easier and more convenient to wear permanent boundary-lines like mustachios, which only need a smear of grease to keep them bright and shiny, rather than to wear frock coats, striped trousers and top hats, which constantly needs to be laundered and dry-cleaned, and the maintenance of which is already leading to the bankruptcy of the European ruling classes. With them clothes make the man, but to us mustachios make the man, So we prefer the various styles of mustachios to make the difference between the classes…..
                           And very unique and poetical symbols they are too. For instance, there is the famous lion mustache, the fearsome upstanding symbol of that great order of resplendent Rajas, the King Emperor. Then there is the tiger mustache, the uncanny, the several-pointed mustache worn by the unbending, unchanging survivals from the ranks of the feudal gentry who have nothing left but the pride in their greatness and a few mementos of past glory, scrolls of honour, granted by the former Emperors, a few gold trinkets, heirlooms and bits of land. Next there is the goat mustache a rather unsure brand, worn by the nouveau riche, the new commercial bourgeoisie and the shopkeeper class somehow don’t belong and indifferent, thin little line of a mustache, worn so that its tips can be turned up or down as the occasion demands a show of power to some coolie or humility to a prosperous client. There is the Charlie Chaplin mustache worn by the lower middle class, by clerks and professional men, a kind of half-and-half affair, deliberately designed as a compromise between the traditional full mustache and the clean-shaven Curzon cut of the Sahibs and the Barristers, because the Babus are not sure whether the Sahibs like them to keep mustachios at all. There is the sheep mustache of the coolie and the lower orders, the mouse mustache of the peasants and so on.
                          In fact, there are endless styles of mustachios, all appropriate to the wearers and indicative of the various orders, as rigorously adhered to as if they had all been patented by the Government of India or sanctioned by special appointment with His Majesty the King or Her Majesty the Queen. And any poaching on the style of one class by members of another is interpreted by certain authorities as being indicative of the increasing jealousy with which each class is guarding its rights and privileges in regard to the mark of the mustachio.
                          Of course, the analysis of the expert is rather too abstract, and not all the murders can be traced to this cause, but certainly it is true that the preferences of the people in regard to their mustachios are cause, but certainly it is true that the preferences of the people in regard to their mustachios are causing a lot of trouble in our parts. For instance, there was a rumpus in my own village the other day about a pair of mustachios.
It so happened that Seth Ramanand, the grocer and money-lender, who had been doing well out of the recent fall on the price of wheat by buying up whole crops cheap from the hard-pressed peasants and then selling grain at higher prices, took it into his head to twist the goat mustache, integral to his order and position in society, at the tips, so that it looked nearly like a tiger mustache.
                           Nobody seemed to mind very much, because most of the mouse mustached peasants in our village are beholden of the grocer, either because they owe him interest on a loan, or an installment on a mortgage of jewellery or land. Besides, the Seth had been careful enough to twist his mustache so that it seemed nearly though not quite like a tiger mustache.
                           But there lives in the vicinity of our village, in an old, dilapidated Moghul style house, a Mussulman named Khan Azam Khan, who claims descent from an ancient Afghan family whose heads were noblemen and councilors in the Court of the Great Moghuls. Khan Azam Khan, a tall, middle-aged man is a handsome and dignified person, and he wears a tiger mustache and remains adorned with the faded remnants of a gold-brocaded waistcoat, though he hasn’t even a patch of land left.
                             Some people, notably the landlord or our village and the moneylender, maliciously say that he is an impostor, and that all his talk about his blue blood is merely the bluff of a rascal. Others like the priest of the temple, concede that his ancestors were certainly attached to the court of the Great Moghuls, but as menial workers. The landlord, the money-lender and the priest are manifestly jealous of anyone’s long ancestry, however, because they have all risen from nothing, and it is obvious from the stately ruins around Khan Azam Khan’s pride is greatly in excess of his present possessions, and he is inordinately jealous of his old privileges and rather foolish and headstrong in safeguarding every sacred brick of his tottering house against vandalism.
                             Khan Azam Khan happened to go to the moneylender’s shop to pawn his wife’s gold nose-ring one morning and he noticed the upturning tendency of the hair of Ramanand’s upper lip which made the grocer’s goat mustache look almost like his own tiger mustache.
                              ‘Since when have lentil-eating shopkeepers become noblemen?’ he asked surlily, even before he had shown the nose-ring to the grocer.
                              ‘I don’t know what you mean Khan,‘ Ramanand answered.
                              ‘You know what I mean’, said the Khan ‘Look at the way you have turned the tips of your mustache upwards. It almost looks like my tiger mustache. Turn the tips down to the style proper to the goat that you are! Fancy the airs of the traders now a days!’
                              ‘Oh, Khan, don’t get so excited,’ said the money lender, who was nothing if he was not amenable, having built up his business on the maxim that the customer is always right.
                              ‘I tell you, turn the tip of your mustache down if you value your life!’ raged Khan Azam Khan.
                              ‘If that is all the trouble, here you are,’ said Ramanand, brushing one end of his mustache with his oily hand so that it dropped like a deadfly. ‘Come, show me the trinkets. How much do you want for them?’
                               Now that Khan Azam Khan’s pride was appeased, he was like soft wax in the merchant’s sure hand. His need, and the need of his family for food, was great, and he humbly accepted the value which the grocer put on his wife’s nose-ring.
                                But as he was departing, after negotiating his business, he noticed that though one end of the grocer’s mustache had come down at his behest, the other end was still up.
                              ‘A strange trick you have played on me,’ the Khan said.
                              ‘I have paid you the best value for your trinket, Khan, that any money-lender will pay in these parts,’ the grocer said, ‘especially, in these days when the Sarkars of the whole world are threatening to go off the gold standard.
                              ‘It has nothing to do with the trinket,’ said Azam Khan, ‘but one end of your mustache is still up like my tiger mustache though you have brought down the other as your proper goat’s style. Bring that other end down also, so that there is no apeing by your mustache of mine.
                              ‘Now, Khan,’ said the grocer ‘I humbled myself because you are doing business with me. You can’t expect me to become a mere worm just because you have pawned a trinket with me. If you were pledging some more expensive jewellery, I might consider obliging you a little more. Anyhow, my humble milk-skimmer doesn’t look a bit like your valiant tiger mustache,’
                              ‘Bring that tip down!’ Khan Azam Khan roared, for the more he had looked at the grocer’s mustache the still upturned tip seemed to him like an effort at an initiation of his own.
                               ‘Now, be sensible, Khan,’ the money-lender said waving his hand with an imperturbable calm.
                               ‘I tell you, turn that tip down or I shall wring your neck,’ said the Khan.
                               ‘All right, the next time you come to do business with me I shall bring that tip down,’ answered the money-lender cunningly.
                                ‘That is fair,’ said Chaudhri Chottu Ram, the landlord of the village, who was sitting under the tree opposite.
                                ‘To be sure! To be sure!’ some peasants chimed in sheepishly.
                                Khan Azam Khan managed to control his murderous impulses and walked away. But he could not quell his pride, the pride of the generations of his ancestors who worn the tiger mustache as a mark of their position. To see the symbol of his honour imitated by a grocer this was too much for him. He went home and fetched a necklace which had come down to his family through seven generations and, placing it before grocer said:
                               ‘Now will you bring that tip of your mustache down?’
                               ‘By all means, Khan’ said the grocer ‘But let us see about this necklace. How much do you want for it?’
                                ‘Any price will do, so long as you bring the tip of your mustache down,’ answered Azam Khan.
                                 After they had settled the business the money-lender said: ‘Now Khan, I shall carry out your will.’ And he ceremoniously brushed the upturned tip of his mustache down.
                                 As Azam Khan was walking away, however, he noticed that the other tip of the grocer’s mustache had now gone up and stood dubiously like the upturned end of his own exalted tiger mustache. He turned on his feet and shouted:
                                ‘I shall kill you if you don’t brush that mustache into the shape appropriate to your position as a lentil-eating grocer!’
                                ‘Now, now, Khan, come to your senses. You know it is only the illusion of a tiger’s mustache and nowhere like your brave and wonderful adornment,’ said the greasy money-lender.
                                ‘I tell you I won’t have you insulting the insignia of my order!’ shouted Azam Khan. ‘You bring that tip down!’
                                ‘I wouldn’t do it, Khan, even if you pawned all the jewellery you possess to me,’ said the money-lender.
                                ‘I would rather I lost all my remaining worldly possessions, my pots and pans my clothes, even my houses, than see the tip of your mustache turned up like that!’ spluttered Azam Khan.
                                ‘Acha, if you care so little for all your goods and chattels you sell them to me and then I shall turn that tip of my mustache down,’ said the money-lender.’ And, what is more, I shall keep it flat. Now, is that a bargain?’
                                ‘That seems fair enough,’ said the landlord from under the trees where he was preparing for a siesta.
                                ‘But, what proof have I that you will keep your word?’ said Azam Khan. ‘You oily lentil-eaters, never keep your promise.’
                                ‘We shall draw up a deed, here and now,’ said the money-lender. ‘And we shall have it signed by the five elders of the village who are seated under that tree. What more do you want?’
                                ‘Now, there is no catch in that,’ put in the landlord. ‘I and four other elders will come to court as witnesses on your behalf if the grocer doesn’t keep his mustache to the goat style ever afterwards,’
                                ‘I shall excommunicate him from religion if he doesn’t keep his word,’ added the priest, who had arrived on the scene on hearing hubbub.
                                 ‘Acha,’ agreed Azam Khan.
                                 And he forthwith had a deep prepared by the petition writer of the village, who sat smoking his hubble-bubble under the tree. And this document, transferring all his household goods and chattels, was signed in the presence of the five elders of the village and sealed. And the money-lender forthwith brought both tips of his mustache down and kept them glued in the goat style appropriate to his order.
                                Only, as soon as Khan Azam Khan’s back was turned he muttered, to the peasants seated nearby: ‘My father was a sultan.’
                                 And they laughed to see the Khan give a special twist to his mustache, as he walked away maintaining the valiant uprightness of the symbol of his ancient and noble family. Though he had become a pauper.

Posted in Collections, Short story & Passages

वयं रक्षामः (प्रस्तावना के कुछ अंश)

” मैं रमण नहीं , रावण हूँ , पौलस्त्य वैश्रवण रावण । भूलना नहीं यह नाम ! “

वयं रक्षामः — हम रक्षा करते हैं (We protect!), रक्ष संस्कृति के स्वर्ण-काल और रावण के उत्थान और पतन की काल्पनिक कथा है। रावण की कहानी में  दर्प, भोग, लिप्सा और अभिसार का चित्रण ना हो , यह संभव नहीं । तो फिर लेखक की स्वतंत्रता क्या है, कितनी है ? वयं रक्षामः तथ्यों पर आधारित, काफी अनुसंधान के बाद रावण पर लिखी गयी अद्भुत , अद्वितीय और निश्चय ही सर्वश्रेष्ठ रचना है । इसकी प्रस्तावना में आचार्य चतुरसेन ने अपने उद्गारों को बड़ी ही स्पष्टता से अभिव्यक्त किया है जिसका कुछ अंश निम्नांकित है :-

गत ग्यारह महीनों में दो-तीन घण्टों में अधिक नहीं सो पाया। सम्भवत: नेत्र भी इस ग्रन्थ की भेंट हो चुके हैं। शरीर मुर्झा गया है, पर हृदय आनन्द के रस में सराबोर है। यह अभी मेरा पैसठवां ही तो बसन्त है। फिर रावण जगदीश्वर मर गया तो क्या ? उसका यौवन, तेज, दर्प, दुस्साहस, भोग और ऐश्वर्य, जो मैं निरन्तर इन ग्यारह मासों में रात-दिन देखता हूं, उसके प्रभाव से कुछ-कुछ शीतल होते हुए रक्तबिन्दु अभी भी नृत्य कर उठते हैं। गर्म राख की भांति अभी भी उनमें गर्मी है। आग न सही, गर्म राख तो है।

फिर अभी तो मुझे मार खानी है, जिसका निमन्त्रण मैं पहले दे चुका हूं। मार तो सदैव खाता रही हूं। इस बार का अपराध तो बहुत भारी है। ‘वयं रक्षाम:’ में प्राग्वेदकालीन जातियों के संबंध में सर्वथा अकल्पित-अतर्कित नई स्थापनाएं हैं, मुक्त सहवास है, वैदिक-अवैदिक अश्रुत मिश्रण है। नर-मांस की खुली बाजार में ब्रिकी है, नृत्य है, मद है, उन्मुख अनावृत यौवन है। यह सब मेरे वे मित्र कैसे बर्दाश्त करेंगे भला, जो अश्लीलता की संभावना से सदा ही चौंकायमान रहते हैं।
परन्तु मैं तो भयभीत नहीं हूं। जैसे आपका शिव मन्दिर में जाकर शिव-लिंग पूजन अश्लील नहीं है, उसी भांति मेरा शिशन-देव भी अश्लील नहीं है। उसमें भी धर्म-तत्त्व समावेशित है। फिर वह मेरी नहीं है, प्राचीन है, प्राचीनतम है। सनातन है, विश्व की देव, दैत्य, दानव, मानव आदि सभी जातियों का सुपूजित है।

सत्या की व्याख्या साहित्य की निष्ठा है। उसी सत्य की प्रतिष्ठा में मुझे प्राग्वेदकालीन नृवंश के जीवन पर प्रकाश डालना पड़ा है। अनहोने, अविश्रुत, सर्वथा अपरिचित तथ्य आप मेरे इस उपन्यास में देखेंगे; जिनकी व्याख्य़ा करने के लिए मुझे उपन्यास पर तीन सौ से अधिक पृष्ठों का भाष्य भी लिखना पड़ा है। फिर भी आप अवश्य ही मुझसे सहमत न होंगे। परन्तु आपके गुस्से के भय से तो मैं अपने मन के सत्य को रोक रखूंगा नहीं। अवश्य कहूंगा और सबसे पहले आप ही से।
साहित्य जीवन का इतिवृत्त नहीं है। जीवन और सौन्दर्य की व्याख्या का नाम साहित्य है। बाहरी संसार में जो कुछ बनता-बिगड़ता रहता है, उस पर से मानव-हृदय विचार और भावना की जो रचना करता है, वही साहित्य है। साहित्यकार साहित्य का निर्माता नहीं, उद्गाता है। वह केवल बांसुरी में फूंक भरता है।

शब्द-ध्वनि उसकी नहीं, केवल फूंक भरने का कौशल उसका है। साहित्यकार जो कुछ सोचता है, जो कुछ अनुभव करता है; वह एक मन से दूसरे मन में, एक काल से दूसरे काल में, मनुष्य की बुद्धि और भावना का सहारा लेकर जीवित रहता है। यही साहित्य का सत्य है। इसी सत्य के द्वारा मनुष्य का हृदय मनुष्य के हृदय से अमरत्व की याचना करता है। साहित्य का सत्य ज्ञान पर अवलम्बित नहीं है, भार पर अवलम्बित है। एक ज्ञान दूसरे ज्ञान को धकेल फेंकता है। नये आविष्कार पुराने आविष्कारों को रद्द करते चले जाते हैं। पर हृदय का भाव पुराने नहीं होते। भाव ही साहित्य को अमरत्व देता है। उसी से साहित्य का सत्य प्रकट होता है।

परन्तु साहित्य का यह सत्य नहीं है। असल सत्य और साहित्य के सत्य में भेद है। जैसा है वैसा ही लिख देना साहित्य नहीं है। हृदय के भावों की दो धाराएं हैं; एक अपनी ओर आती है, दूसरी दूसरों की ओर जाती है। यह दूसरी धारा बहुत दूर तक जा सकती है-विश्व के उस छोर तक। इसलिए जिस भाव को हमें दूर तक पहुंचाना है, जो चीज़ दूर से दिखानी है, उसे बड़ा करके दिखाना पड़ता है। परन्तु उसे ऐसी कारीगिरी से बड़ा करना होता है, जिससे उसका सत्य-रूप बिगड़ न जाए, जैसे छोटी फोटो को एन्लार्ज किया जाता है। जो साहित्यकार मन के छोटे-से सत्य को बिना विकृत किए इतना बड़ा एन्लार्ज करके प्रकट करने की सामर्थ्य रखता है कि सारा संसार उसे देख सके, और इतना पक्का रंग भरता है कि शताब्दियां-सहस्राब्दियां बीत जाने पर भी वह फीका न पड़े, वही सच्चा और महान साहित्यकार है।

केवल सत्य की ही प्रतिष्ठा से साहित्यकार का काम पूरा नहीं हो जाता। उस सत्य को उसे सुन्दर बनाना पड़ता है। साहित्य का सत्य है यदि सुन्दर न होगा तो विश्व उसे कैसे प्यार करेगा ? उस पर मोहित कैसे होगा ? इसलिए सत्य में सौन्दर्य की स्थापना के लिए, आवश्यकता है संयम की। सत्य में जब सौन्दर्य की स्थापना होती है, तब सत्य में सौन्दर्य का मेल होने से उसका मंगल रूप बनता है। यह मंगल रूप ही हमारे जीवन का ऐश्वर्य है। इसी से हम लक्ष्मी को केवल ऐश्वर्य की ही देवी नहीं, मंगल की भी देवी मानते हैं। जीवन जब ऐश्वर्य से परिपूर्ण हो जाता है, तब वह आनन्द रूप हो जाता है और साहित्यकार ब्रह्माण्ड के प्रत्येक कण को ‘आनन्द-रूपममृतम्’ के रूप में चित्रित करता है। इसी को वह कहता है ‘सत्यं शिवं सुन्दरम्’।

‘वैशाली की नगरवधू’ लिखकर मैंने हिन्दी उपन्यासों के संबंध में एक यह नया मोड़ उपस्थित किया था कि अब हमारे उपन्यास केवल मनोरंजन की तथा चरित्र-चित्रण-भर की सामग्री न रह जाएंगे। अब यह मेरा नया उपन्यास ‘वयं राक्षम:’ इस दिशा में अगला कदम है। इस उपन्यास में प्राग्वेदकालीन नर, नाग, देव, दैत्य-दानव, आर्य-अनार्य आदि विविध नृवंशों के जीवन के वे विस्तृत-पुरातन रेखाचित्र हैं, जिन्हें धर्म के रंगीन शीशे में देख कर सारे संसार ने अंतरिक्ष का देवता मान लिया था। मैं इस उपन्यास में उन्हें नर रूप में आपके समक्ष उपस्थित करने का साहस कर रहा हूँ। ‘वयं रक्षाम:’ एक उपन्यास तो अवश्य है; परन्तु वास्तव में वह वेद, पुराण, दर्शन और वैदेशिक इतिहास-ग्रन्थों का दुस्साहस अध्ययन है। आज तक की मनुष्य की वाणी से सुनी गई बातें, मैं आपको सुनाने पर आमादा हूं। मैं तो अब यह काम कर ही चुका। अब आप कितनी मार मारते हैं, यह आपके रहम पर छोड़ता हूं। उपन्यास में मेरे अपने जीवन-भर के अध्ययन का सार है, यह मैं पहले ही कह चुका हूं।

उपन्यास में व्याख्यात तत्त्वों की विवेचना मुझे उपन्यास में स्थान-स्थान करनी पड़ी है। मेरे लिए दूसरा मार्ग था ही नहीं। फिर भी प्रत्येक तथ्य की सप्रमाण टीका के बिना मैं अपना बचाव नहीं कर सकता था। अत: ढाई सौ पृष्ठों का भाष्य भी मुझे अपने इस उपन्यास पर रचना पड़ा। अपने ज्ञान में तो सब कुछ कह चुका। पर अन्तत: मेरा परिमित ज्ञान इस अगाध इतिहास को सांगोपांग व्यक्त नहीं कर सकता था। संक्षेप में मैंने सब वेद, पुराण, दर्शन, ब्राह्मण और इतिहास के प्राप्तों की एक बड़ी-सी गठरी बांधकर इतिहास-रस में एक डुबकी दे दी है। सबको इतिहास-रस में रंग दिया। फिर भी यह इतिहास-रस का उपन्यास नहीं ‘अतीत-रस’ का उपन्यास है। इतिहास-रस का तो केवल इसमें रंग है, स्वाद है, अतीत-रस का। अब आप मारिए या छोड़िए, आपको अख्तियार है।

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Sansara & Nirvana

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When in the next morning the time had come to start the day’s journey, Govinda said, not without hesitation, these words: “Before I’ll continue on my path, Siddhartha, permit me to ask one more question. Do you have a teaching? Do you have a faith, or a knowledge, you follow, which helps you to live and to do right?”

Quoth Siddhartha: “You know, my dear, that I already as a young man, in those days when we lived with the penitents in the forest, started to distrust teachers and teachings and to turn my back to them. I have stuck with this. Nevertheless, I have had many teachers since then. A beautiful courtesan has been my teacher for a long time, and a rich merchant was my teacher, and some gamblers with dice. Once, even a follower of Buddha, travelling on foot, has been my teacher; he sat with me when I had fallen asleep in the forest, on the pilgrimage. I’ve also learned from him, I’m also grateful to him, very grateful. But most of all, I have learned here from this river and from my predecessor, the ferryman Vasudeva. He was a very simple person, Vasudeva, he was no thinker, but he knew what is necessary just as well as Gotama, he was a perfect man, a saint.”

Govinda said: “Still, oh Siddhartha, you love a bit to mock people, as it seems to me. I believe in you and know that you haven’t followed a teacher. But haven’t you found something by yourself, though you’ve found no teachings, you still found certain thoughts, certain insights, which are your own and which help you to live? If you would like to tell me some of these, you would delight my heart.”

Quoth Siddhartha: “I’ve had thoughts, yes, and insight, again and again. Sometimes, for an hour or for an entire day, I have felt knowledge in me, as one would feel life in one’s heart. There have been many thoughts, but it would be hard for me to convey them to you. Look, my dear Govinda, this is one of my thoughts, which I have found: wisdom cannot be passed on. Wisdom which a wise man tries to pass on to someone always sounds like foolishness.”

“Are you kidding?” asked Govinda.

“I’m not kidding. I’m telling you what I’ve found. Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom. It can be found, it can be lived, it is possible to be carried by it, miracles can be performed with it, but it cannot be expressed in words and taught. This was what I, even as a young man, sometimes suspected, what has driven me away from the teachers. I have found a thought, Govinda, which you’ll again regard as a joke or foolishness, but which is my best thought. It says: The opposite of every truth is just as true! That’s like this: any truth can only be expressed and put into words when it is one−sided. Everything is one −sided which can be thought with thoughts and said with words, it’s all one−sided, all just one half, all lacks completeness, roundness, oneness. When the exalted Gotama spoke in his teachings of the world, he had to divide it into Sansara and Nirvana, into deception and truth, into suffering and salvation. It cannot be done differently, there is no other way for him who wants to teach. But the world itself, what exists around us and inside of us, is never one−sided. A person or an act is never entirely Sansara or entirely Nirvana, a person is never entirely holy or entirely sinful. It does really seem like this, because we are subject to deception, as if time was something real. Time is not real, Govinda, I have experienced this often and often again. And if time is not real, then the gap which seems to be between the world and the eternity, between suffering and blissfulness, between evil and good, is also a deception.”

“How come?” asked Govinda timidly.

“Listen well, my dear, listen well! The sinner, which I am and which you are, is a sinner, but in times to come he will be Brahma again, he will reach the Nirvana, will be Buddha−−and now see: these “times to come” are a deception, are only a parable! The sinner is not on his way to become a Buddha, he is not in the process of developing, though our capacity for thinking does not know how else to picture these things. No, within the sinner is now and today already the future Buddha, his future is already all there, you have to worship in him, in you, in everyone the Buddha which is coming into being, the possible, the hidden Buddha. The world, my friend Govinda, is not imperfect, or on a slow path towards perfection: no, it is perfect in every moment, all sin already carries the divine forgiveness in itself, all small children already have the old person in themselves, all infants already have death, all dying people the eternal life. It is not possible for any person to see how far another one has already progressed on his path; in the robber and dice−gambler, the Buddha is waiting; in the Brahman, the robber is waiting. In deep meditation, there is the possibility to put time out of existence, to see all life which was, is, and will be as if it was simultaneous, and there everything is good, everything is perfect, everything is Brahman. Therefore, I see whatever exists as good, death is to me like life, sin like holiness, wisdom like foolishness, everything has to be as it is, everything only requires my consent, only my willingness, my loving agreement, to be good for me, to do nothing but work for my benefit, to be unable to ever harm me. I have experienced on my body and on my soul that I needed sin very much, I needed lust, the desire for possessions, vanity, and needed the most shameful despair, in order to learn how to give up all resistance, in order to learn how to love the world, in order to stop comparing it to some world I wished, I imagined, some kind of perfection I had made up, but to leave it as it is and to love it and to enjoy being a part of it.−−These, oh Govinda, are some of the thoughts which have come into my mind.”

Siddhartha bent down, picked up a stone from the ground, and weighed it in his hand. “This here,” he said playing with it, “is a stone, and will, after a certain time, perhaps turn into soil, and will turn from soil into a plant or animal or human being. In the past, I would have said: This stone is just a stone, it is worthless, it belongs to the world of the Maja; but because it might be able to become also a human being and a spirit in the cycle of transformations, therefore I also grant it importance. Thus, I would perhaps have thought in the past. But today I think: this stone is a stone, it is also animal, it is also god, it is also Buddha, I do not venerate and love it because it could turn into this or that, but rather because it is already and always everything−− and it is this very fact, that it is a stone, that it appears to me now and today as a stone, this is why I love it and see worth and purpose in each of its veins and cavities, in the yellow, in the gray, in the hardness, in the sound it makes when I knock at it, in the dryness or wetness of its surface. There are stones which feel like oil or soap, and others like leaves, others like sand, and every one is special and prays the Om in its own way, each one is Brahman, but simultaneously and just as much it is a stone, is oily or juicy, and this is this very fact which I like and regard as wonderful and worthy of worship.−−But let me speak no more of this. The words are not good for the secret meaning, everything always becomes a bit different, as soon as it is put into words, gets distorted a bit, a bit silly−−yes, and this is also very good, and I like it a lot, I also very much agree with this, that this what is one man’s treasure and wisdom always sounds like foolishness to another person.”

Govinda listened silently. “Why have you told me this about the stone?” he asked hesitantly after a pause.

“I did it without any specific intention. Or perhaps what I meant was, that love this very stone, and the river, and all these things we are looking at and from which we can learn. I can love a stone, Govinda, and also a tree or a piece of bark. This are things, and things can be loved. But I cannot love words. Therefore, teachings are no good for me, they have no hardness, no softness, no colours, no edges, no smell, no taste, they have nothing but words. Perhaps it are these which keep you from finding peace, perhaps it are the many words. Because salvation and virtue as well, Sansara and Nirvana as well, are mere words, Govinda. There is no thing which would be Nirvana; there is just the word Nirvana.”

Quoth Govinda: “Not just a word, my friend, is Nirvana. It is a thought.”

Siddhartha continued: “A thought, it might be so. I must confess to you, my dear: I don’t differentiate much between thoughts and words. To be honest, I also have no high opinion of thoughts. I have a better opinion of things. Here on this ferry−boat, for instance, a man has been my predecessor and teacher, a holy man, who has for many years simply believed in the river, nothing else. He had noticed that the river’s spoke to him, he learned from it, it educated and taught him, the river seemed to be a god to him, for many years he did not know that every wind, every cloud, every bird, every beetle was just as divine and knows just as much and can teach just as much as the worshipped river. But when this holy man went into the forests, he knew everything, knew more than you and me, without teachers, without books, only because he had believed in the river.”

Govinda said: “But is that what you call `things’, actually something real, something which has existence? Isn’t it just a deception of the Maja, just an image and illusion? Your stone, your tree, your river−− are they actually a reality?”

“This too,” spoke Siddhartha, “I do not care very much about. Let the things be illusions or not, after all I would then also be an illusion, and thus they are always like me. This is what makes them so dear and worthy of veneration for me: they are like me. Therefore, I can love them. And this is now a teaching you will laugh about: love, oh Govinda, seems to me to be the most important thing of all. To thoroughly understand the world, to explain it, to despise it, may be the thing great thinkers do. But I’m only interested in being able to love the world, not to despise it, not to hate it and me, to be able to look upon it and me and all beings with love and admiration and great respect.”

“This I understand,” spoke Govinda. “But this very thing was discovered by the exalted one to be a deception. He commands benevolence, clemency, sympathy, tolerance, but not love; he forbade us to tie our heart in love to earthly things.”

“I know it,” said Siddhartha; his smile shone golden. “I know it, Govinda. And behold, with this we are right in the middle of the thicket of opinions, in the dispute about words. For I cannot deny, my words of love are in a contradiction, a seeming contradiction with Gotama’s words. For this very reason, I distrust in words so much, for I know, this contradiction is a deception. I know that I am in agreement with Gotama. How should he not know love, he, who has discovered all elements of human existence in their transitoriness, in their meaninglessness, and yet loved people thus much, to use a long, laborious life only to help them, to teach them! Even with him, even with your great teacher, I prefer the thing over the words, place more importance on his acts and life than on his speeches, more on the gestures of his hand than his opinions. Not in his speech, not in his thoughts, I see his greatness, only in his actions, in his life.”

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