“When you know you are going to die, when you look back at life, remember to have created memories that don’t disgust you about yourself”.
“You cannot destroy a man fully unless you defeat his principles. That is why the GOOD live on and on”.
“The one person who will chase you and pin you to the ground and make you face what you don’t want to is —YOU”. “YOU will find you, no matter how hard you run”.
The monk travelled alongside the sinner. They travelled through long mountain passes and had not spoken to each other. They guessed each other’s identities and lives and were interested to know more. The sinner was afraid, afraid he would be judged by the other man. The monk on the other hand was not very judgmental for he knew whatever came his way would contribute to his wisdom( he never thought his wisdom was too big). he just wanted to know, “why?”. For he would patiently listen to anyone for he knew patience was the ultimate way to attain peace.
E= the thief alias “The Escape Artist”; M= The Monk
E: “You hungry? We can look in the nearby village.
M; “No I am not, I am used to travelling with an empty stomach. You do not have any money, how will you get food?. Asking for alms?
E: That is what people in your clothes do, I don’t ask, I take. Its every man’s right to satisfy himself
M: Oh really. Isnt taking stealing?. Are you a thief?
E:Thief ?? haa have you never found the “itch” to take?
M:I have, when I was young but haven’t you hated it when somebody “took” from you and made you feel bad?
E: “Ha ha and I am not a thief, call me “escape artist”. I escape with style when my job is done, so “escape artist” should sound good.
“How much more long to the next village?”
M: “Less than an hour I guess.”
E: “You have been through here before?”
M: “No, I just know it .just like I knew I would learn something by travelling this journey with you.”
E: “So that is why you left the motel when I left?”
M: “The soul is a subconscious force, it has its reasons, I may not clearly get it at first”.
E: “You people call it “Intuition”, I call it “ah let me do it”.
“You believe in Good and bad I suppose because you are a monk.”
M: “You believe bad is also good I suppose, because you are a thief.
“You and I are not very different actually, have you heard of Yin and Yang?”
E: “That is an inside joke between us now, isn’t it? Oh yeah Yin and Yang, opposite energies that comprise the same thing. Now tell me what do you do from dawn?”
M: “ I wake up, without anybody to wake me, I cleanse my body, I fill my mind with peace. I train my body to give my mind peace. I eat, half my stomach. I clean around the place I live. I feed the birds and animals. I ask for alms. I sometimes relish on some fruit that is offered. I read, I fill my mind, I practice. I write down what I have learnt when I learn something new. I spend my evenings with old and learned people, sometimes I play with little children. I nurse the sick. I help those who need help. I water plants. I ask for food, I eat, I meditate then I go to sleep.
What about you?”
E :“I get up, whenever I feel like. I see what I don’t have, I go looking for it. I hide myself in any crowd. I blend in, I finish my work. I look for what is adventurous and challenging, I still get what I want at the end of my day.I feel good.
I still don’t see how you and I are not that different”
M: “I can tell you so many examples”
E: “Go on.. I’m listening”(smiling).
M: “You do things because you think you are right, I do things because I don’t want to be wrong.”
2)“You do things because you want to be liked by few(among your crew) , I do things because I do not want to be hated.”
3)“Both you and I don’t have normal lives, like how people say and we both think we are right”
4)“Occassionally you see yourself as useless, low and evil. Occassionally I see myself as something good, useful and helpful”.
5)“You do things to feel better, I don’t do things to remain better”.
6)“You think it is your right, I think it is my duty” (smiling)
7)“You cannot wait , I cannot plunge forward, not for myself”.
8)“You live on others’ losses and pain, I live on others’ happiness and little cherishings”.
9)“You help yourself using people, I help people using myself”.
10)“You fill your stomach and your cupboard, I fill my heart and my head”.
11)“ You have trained your physique more, I have trained my mind more”.
E:“Enough, enough!!”… he snapped. “Vile accusations.. You talk like a monk, that is all. Well that is how “different” we are, not how “similar”!!”
M:“We are similar because I could fit us both into the same sentence” smiled the monk.
“There is no good and bad in action son, he continued. There is only good and bad in the “outcome” of action. The thing is, if I change, people would consider me Good atleast for sometime. But even if you change , people will consider you “Bad” forever.
E:“Why would I change? its not like I need help..!!”
M:“Oh don’t you really?, not my help…but you need some help, I suppose.”
E:“No! I steal and hurt only others, in the end I get what I want..somehow or I try anew, I don’t need help, I am the master of my life”.
M:“You don’t seem to have mastered your temper”.
E:“Its not like you don’t get angry”
M:“I am not angry yet so I speak”
E:“With every step I take I get something anew”.
M:“Yes and with every step you take, you are leaving a part of your soul behind. You are not running towards something son, you are running away from something, you are afraid of yourself or an able man like you would not have to steal and hurt other people”
E:“What?? me?? What soul? does the soul get hungry or upset like I do.?”
M:“Son, you are a soul…. you are stuck in that container called body and you do get upset”.
E:“Monk talk, bla bla bla….stop that scum, you are embarrasing”.
M:“ I can easily forget this journey when I go to sleep and love myself the way I always did but I am pretty sure you can’t”.
E: “Whatever, you are psychotic”.
“You think you know me well enough huh?”
M:“No, no not at all, I know ME well which is why I can understand you..”
E:“Will you be quiet??”
E:“Can I ask you something?”
E:“Why are you a monk?”
M:“The same as why you are “a taker”, a “thief”.”
E:“And why would that be?” with his eyebrows raised.
M:“I didn’t like the man I used to be. I hurt others for my ambitions . The second thing I said is a little unlike you”
E:“And what were you doing?”
M:“And you are a thief because you were tired of playing good and decent?”
E:“And tired of never being understood or rewarded”.
M:“You should have remained the way you were.”
E:“Oh ,…why? I am free from everybody and everything now. I choose what happens, I don’t wait for rewards, I get them”.
M:“But you are only stuck within yourself, probably missing your old self. I don’t know. Not sure. Only you know.”
E:“If you are so righteous why not punish me or judge me with something? Like with that cane you monks use to train with?”
M:“I am not righteous, you are not wrong.Who am I to punish you?. We belong in the same world in the same time. Judging monks as people too high and thieves as too low a creature will only deepen the furrow between good and evil, between beautiful and ugly and there will be no balance, no peace, no friendship, no healing. I had a past and you have a future, if you choose it”
E:“I don’t find anything wrong with me now…”
M:“But can you feel anything, like when you are all alone and go to bed?”
E:“Did you come all this way to teach me this and you want to change me?”
M:“Son wrong again, you know it all already, may be am just reminding you, if you want to part ways now I can go on my own..”
E:“No thanks… I could use some company .. FOR NOW”.
———-TWO DAYS LATER——–
M:“You may have hurt yourself back in the past or remained a loser. But you had a face. A mind.“
E:”What’s wrong with me now?? Nothing that bad”.
M:“Now there is only a shadow that looks fine. But its just a shadow.That is just my opinion. I imagined what it feels to be you that is all, just like you feel being a monk is pathetic”.
E:“I never said you are pathetic..”
M:“You looked at me in a way that said that when we began the journey”.
M:“ Son see , Nobody except you cares why you are a thief. Everybody cares only that you are a thief”.
(——–SILENCE FOR MILES——–)
Third day, the eve of parting ways.
He goes one way, the other goes another. At the junction of the juncture the thief/escape artist asks, “Lots of things you said were things that were never told to me may be, I want to know why you would tell me all this? What do you get from all of this? Just that you wanted somebody to agree with you?”
M:“See I came because I felt like coming and I needed company three days back, both you and I will learn something from each other. That is all that matters”.
“ And by the way, we are not allowed to speak much unless necessary. Not for us but for others. They say it is a sign and duty of empathy”
E:“So what made you think I would listen to you and not walk away?”.
M:“We are taught to read the aura … its is not mind reading for me to be exact”.
E:“And what did my so called AURA tell you?”
M:“The same that it tells you everyday before you put it off, before I put it off in the past– That you are hurt and bleeding somewhere”
E:“And you heard it so you came along with me?”
M:“ I didn’t hear it, I saw it.”
he turns and walks.
E:“Wait… where did you see it?”
M:“ ON YOUR FACE , its written right there and you can’t hide it. By the way I didn’t mean to offend you, make you look desperate or make you look like a specimen. That is your choice, this is mine. I cannot claim I am right, I could be wrong. You can think for yourself and speak for yourself, for only YOU can, just like I did”.
The monk walks down the slope towards the narrow bridge seated with chirping birds that fly away as he walks on. The other man stares for a while and continues on with his journey.