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Adi & Praja 149

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Adi and Praja

Chapter 9

Issue 149: Doubt

Shano preferred daily long walks if time allowed, alone or with one of his friends, others did yoga exercises, again others enjoyed fighting and laughing loudly together up to exhaustion, or a ball game.



Shano had read in books, before he came to the monastery, that people had a ‘self’ or essence and that everyone had the same self, and often it had been added in such books that this self was unchanging, permanent. Yet, even in the daily life here in this monastery, isolated in the mountains, he found that all the people were different, just as different as the people in the cities and the rural areas between whom he had lived during his travels. He saw the change all the time, and he saw the differences all the time. If things were changing, this seemed to explain that all things were different also. Everything changed in its own way, and thus things became different from each other, and pursuing the paths in evolution they had taken, they would become more and more differentiated during their evolution. That is why it had happened that people would no longer recognize their spiritual brotherhood, and had started competing and fighting.

That seemed to explain the actual situation in the world pretty well. But then, if the origin was the same for everyone, and was unchangeable, as he had learned in his earlier years from scholars and priests of various disciplines – who or what had created the first difference? All drops of waters, he reasoned, were, after all, still water, with the same properties, like freezing at a particular temperature, boiling at the same temperature and the tendency to form round drops. Even the whole ocean around the earth was like a gigantic round drop. If you would put many water drops together in one bucket and then through a shower head, the drops would be all alike again, but they were all different as well, because the new drops were not composed of the same groups of water molecules clinging together as the old ones. So, at the most there was some modification, but no real change. So Shano’s evolution theory was not supported by water, apparently. Water always remained the same: H2O. Water itself seemed permanent. So was Shano’s soul also permanent, in last analysis? And was, just as the drops of water, if he would be united with all other beings, Shano’s soul exactly the same as all other souls, including frogs, germs, crystals and water drops? Then how did differentiation come about? If permanence is the core truth of the universe, it would always exist and have existed, but change could never occur – because how could impermanence be produced from permanence without a differentiating agent – but then this agent itself would be impermanent, and how could that have existed if the essence of all things was permanent?

Shano had a headache. Why had these damned teachers not made things clear from the beginning? Maybe they themselves didn’t know. Why did the Head of the monastery allow two such teachers to teach under the same roof? He was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. When he went to the ‘teacher of permanence’ he said, of course, that water was permanent, that matter was permanent, that soul was permanent, that all existing things had always existed – at least an idea in a mind. “But,” said Shano. “I see that it is not true what you are saying – I see everything changing” “That is but an illusion,” said the teacher. “Don’t you realize that your skin and bones exist of exactly the same protons and electrons and quarks etc. as those on a star a hundred million light years away?” – And didn’t he think this could only be true if there existed one absolutely permanent building stone for all matter, and even so for all feeling, thinking and consciousness? Shano got more headache. The teacher felt pity for Shano. And he added: “But all rays have their own character.” This remark seemed to hang completely in the air and didn’t really help Shano at that time.

It was winter. From the roof of the monastery you could look in all directions. Below the horizon, ragged with mountain peaks, it was white, blinding white, wherever Shano looked. Above the horizon it was blue. No other colors. And absolutely silent. No birds, no insects, no wind raging between the mountains – it was stillness. Only the fresh smell of the snow. And above it were the heavens where the invisible gods resided. Stainless blue.

The next morning Shano and the other monks got up early, before sunrise, as always, the whole year around. Their first activity, after rubbing their face clean with snow, was to meditate. Most would sit inside. Some gigantic copper horns would be blown, sounding from horizon to horizon over the snows, and reflecting and echoing at some places. It was a sign of peace which all invisible creatures understood. It seemed to confirm the oneness and sympathy of the mountains and the valleys. Some monks recited mantra’s. Mantra’s are sounds and words helpful to direct the mind towards higher things, and to remind one of the abbreviated, compacted philosophical doctrine contained in the mantras. Part of the teachings might be secret and could not be understood by the daily consciousness. Further: absolute silence. Some, like Shano, preferred to sit outside, watching nature’s early morning changes, and breathing the cold snowy air.

Shano had the habit of walking away from the monastery about half a mile. There was a stone on which he could sit – the only object not covered by snow, because he had wiped that away the day before. For him it was a holy stone. From there he could see the sun rise straight in front on the same level as where he was sitting. The very feeling of the stone through his bottom revealed a universe of support, of dharma. It seemed alive, though motionless and ice cold. Here he used to sit every morning, eight minutes before sunrise, just to look, to meditate, without thoughts. The snow crystals reflected the first light in all directions, giving the impression that, though it was white, contained all colors. He would absorb the rays of the dawn and consciously let the air enter his nose. His mind alert as if he was listening to a spiritual teacher. When the first rays of the sun would hit his eyes he would stand up, and give a greeting to the sun, asking him for guidance towards deeper understanding and guidance on the path towards conscious immortality (though the two teachers had destroyed his understanding of immortality efficiently)

This morning, still before these first rays, he had a feeling of exceptional expectation, as if some great news would be brought to him. His mind was as clear as the purest crystal or a dustless and moistureless sky at the depths of night.

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