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Adi & Praja 143

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Adi and Praja

Chapter 9

Issue 143: The mysterious man

Am I, or am I not? – that is the question. Let’s take some rest from this subject now. One day, I hope, we will understand – even if it takes lifetimes. There is no doubt to which there will be no solution. So let us take rest from this subject for now. And let us enjoy together with Shano.


(the mysterious man)

One day he saw another traveler, far away at the horizon, at the edge of a Juniper grove. It was the first human being he saw since he had gone into these sacred (but no longer scary) mountains. The human being was coming from the opposite direction, so they would eventually meet. And so they did. It was a man, but Shano had never seen such a man before. He looked extremely old – he could have been 300, but had young eyes and a gray beard. He just walked there, still at a distance, and it seemed that the birds and insects felt his presence, and a positive one. When he had reached Shano, he looked at Shano as if he had always known him, and Shano felt fully at ease. It was as if the man could read his thoughts. He said but little, but pointed to the right, to a high snow covered pass and signaled him to go beyond that pass. He had to follow a small stream, and after three days he would reach a small monastery. “There is your school,” the man said. “They know that you are coming” – and then he suddenly disappeared into nothingness, and there was only absolute silence. It was a mystery. Shano did what the man had told, doubting whether he had been dreaming or hallucinating, or whether the man was real. But there had been so much kindness, that he could not doubt that it would lead to something good. He went on and on, walked through thick snow and the air was thin, then down into a valley without snow and all the time nature seemed to become more peaceful, and so became his mind. The third day he saw, near the top of a hill, just under the top rock, a building with flags on it, sunlit against the blue sky. It was still quite a climb, at least a few hours to go. But he had forgotten the weight of his feet and his body, and in a while he arrived at the gate, which was closed. Was anybody there? He knocked and waited. Nothing happened. And he waited and waited, and the evening fell, and he took out his sleeping back and slept in front of the door. He could see that it had been occupied very recently – everything was clean, and in a bin he saw some rests of vegetables that looked really fresh. Next day: nobody. Next day: nobody. But there was not the slightest thought in his mind of giving up waiting and returning. The man he had met three days ago could never have been lying.

The third night he woke up to find himself inside the building, lying on a bench, and a butter lamp was burning in the corner. No sound, absolute silence, only once a mouse pattered in the corner of the room. But he wasn’t afraid, because he felt the same quietude that he had felt in the presence of that man. The next morning a door opened, and a kind face laughed at him. “We have been waiting a long time for you. You traveled many countries and had many experiences. We are very happy you arrived safely, but that is thanks to the fact that a few times we had to save you from danger of which you weren’t aware – you didn’t notice our presence. A great task lies before you. But as for now, we need somebody to weed our vegetable garden, and that will be your task today.” And so it happened. Shano weeded the garden during the whole day, and cleared it completely. So he thought: “I am curious what my task will be tomorrow.” The next morning the same smiling face, apparently the head monk’s assistant, came again, and Shano asked: “What can I do today?” And the assistant said: “Go to the garden and do your work.” Shano thought that the man had not seen that he had already finished, but he obeyed. He came, and the garden was full of weeds, even more than the day before, it seemed. He felt some disappointment, also because he didn’t like weeding, which involved killing plants – though he was exceedingly careful not to harm any insect. But what to do else? So he weeded the garden again. And so the next day. This time the weeds were more difficult to remove than yesterday. And this went on and on for months, and the weeds of the morning became little shrubs, then big shrubs, then small trees, and finally big thick-stemmed trees with wood as hard as iron, which he had to cut one by one with an axe. All the time he was left alone with his task, and had nobody to talk to. But in the mean time his mind became clearer and clearer. Every time he had removed a weed or a shrub or a tree, he felt that something of his past had fallen from him, and that his soul had become a little bit freer. There were moments of despair though, when he cursed the moment he had sold his musical instrument and sent his car back home. The pain of his love’s rejection and departure came sometimes back, fiercer even than he had felt at the actual moment. He had felt so much love. Was there no love in this place? But from the old bearded man who had pointed him the directing he had seen radiating more love than any normal human being can have – a love for the whole of humanity rather than a personal love. Then why did this assistant here – in fact the only human being he had seen so far, let him toil with the only result that his work would increase? But the abbot who had given this assignment to his assistant knew that in this way Shano would overcome his past attachments, and would develop an enormous strength of character. In fact he would never have given him this task if he would not have believed that Shano had the stamina to fulfill it.

One day it was all over. But Shano wasn’t even happy about it. He had transcended that type of happiness to likes and dislikes. The assistant told him that he had succeeded in his test, and that now the time had come to meet the others. And before Shano knew what happened he found himself in a community of monks in the same building, and saw them walk through the now perfect vegetable garden. He noticed that all the monks – students like himself, and teachers, exhaled the same quietude and universal love of the man in the mountains. And he could talk now – even though they talked together in a language he had never been talking before, but he knew it anyway. He did not see the man of the mountains among them though, and he asked whether they knew him. They did, but he came only very rarely, sometimes only once in a hundred years. Shano was 23 now, and it annoyed him a little that he might had to wait till he was 123, if ever. But so many strange things had happened in the last few months that he was no longer amazed about anything. From now on he was allowed to study philosophy. The books they gave him seemed to come from an invisible library – at least he never found any of them in the library of visible books of the monastery. The library was his favorite place, if he was not sitting outside for meditation about what he had read. The ‘invisible’ books were, for Shano at least, just as visible, or even more so, than the ‘normal’ books. They were written in a language he knew, though he had never seen it before – and it consisted mainly of symbols in various colors which directly touched the knowledge in his heart. So he needed no dictionaries, and didn’t have to dig in his brain memory to understand what was in them. The books however contained much more even than he was aware – this he discovered when he read the same book again after some time. Whole passages had been added in the mean time. Passages he could never have understood had he not first read and meditated upon the earlier material. Even the greatest scholars where reading the same books – and no doubt for them they contained even very much more. All this reading and meditating expanded Shano’s mind tremendously. Now he saw as clear as the simplest truth why his beloved girl had acted as she did. She did not separate from him, because she was always in his heart. Her task and his task were interlinked. He didn’t know that at the time, and she knew it only half. All her actions, the kind ones and the seemingly unkind one, were part of a pattern into which they had woven themselves ages ago. He never met her again in this life, but both of them grew closer in their hearts and understood each other better.

The teachings Shano received were not necessarily difficult, but very deep and influential in their consequence. They had absolutely nothing to do with anything he had ever learned at school. There was no separation between theory and practice. He didn’t have to memorize anything, because the teachings came at the same time as his questions from within him, and what he learned was immediately absorbed and became part of his being.

One of the first things taught to him to think about was a big paradox. He had several teachers at the monastery, and one of them taught him that everything was immortal. The soul was immortal, the essence of each and every thing was immortal, and …

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