Friday, October 30, 2015


“ Well, what is Life, Son?” Swamiji was asking me.

I lay in front of the cave staring emptily in front of me. Balu strolled down to the lake and brought me a leaf-cup of cold water. On another platter were a couple of rice cakes and bananas. Thimmy sat by his master.

“Eating this banana,” I answered, mechanically one into my mouth, “and breathing,” I added, as I nearly choked by the haste with which I swallowed. I remembered having walked back to the cave, mechanically, with the Swamiji leading. Memory has never been at fault with me, though the young fool at the hospital tested me at length for it. If any, my memory has always been too acute for my comfort, too precise.

The memory of this morning at the village, and all I saw and felt was quite fresh in my mind - and the many, many memories of years ago, too. Sickness, suffering and death were bad enough, but the memories of my training to deal with it all were worse. The remembrance of my role as a certified peddler of pills, potions and so called notions on health did no good either. Simple, spontaneous kindness I could feel, know, receive and give. Thoughts, words and acts that followed from such kindness seemed to be so effective, perhaps, because they were so easy for me, may be.

I hoped or I was made to believe that training to be a doctor was going to open up a wonderful channel for one’s natural quality of kindness. But, I found that what I got was not what I sought - at least for me the tormenting apes were no imagination; and kindness was but the white cloak of bed-side manners that covered a fiendish curiosity that killed what it revealed.

And Thimmy, Balu and Swamiji revealed to me the angel of Kindness. I had only half known her before I became a doctor, and before the apes, which talked of principles of life by dissecting it to death, gave me bedside manners as an analysed residue of desiccated kindness. Yes, Thimmy, Balu and Swamiji rediscovered kindness for me, and all that it could do, and for me that was enough.

And Swamiji thrust the role of doctor on me again, and the nightmare from which I escaped. He hasn't met the apes and gorillas, and he wouldn't understand even if I explained. I am annoyed, and wonder if he too is not a camouflaged ape; and he asks me coolly, “What is Life?”

“Eating a banana and breathing,” I said in a huff, I remember. Yes, he, too, like the apes gets bananas for the things he does. It would serve him right if people refrained from giving him things. I would very much like to see what happens if the villagers stop giving him food for a few days.

“Quite right, son, you have said a mouthful of truth,” Swamiji said and smiled. No trace of malice or sarcasm, there. “You may drink some water - and that would make the statement complete; breathing, eating and drinking.”

After I had taken a drink of water, Swamiji continued, “I'm not teaching you or testing you. You have much learning and I am but a frog in the well in most matters, knowing only what I know and little else. So I ask - Do you know Life?”

“No,” I said, “only when it is not; even that I am not sure. I learnt that life can be present in very small particles even. They say that a thing is living when something happens: eating, breathing, drinking, becoming more of its kind and so on. When one or more of these things do not happen it is said to be dying or dead. I don't think anyone has seen a thing called Life.”

“Of course, many have not seen kindness, either - but, then what were those apes looking for,” he asked.

“Did you see them, too,” I asked, quite relieved.

“Yes,” he said.

I later learnt that Balu smelt their presence, and that Thimmy’s hair stood on end.

“They were looking for life, perhaps,” I said.

“How can they look for a thing they have not seen or known,” asked Swamiji.

“Looking for things is their occupation Swamiji,” I replied. “They search and research and tabulate and search again, and with each figure they manufacturer out of this they feel they have discovered something: they meet shapes of their own making and claim that they have come to know something new.”

“They looked pretty terrible to me, son. What for did you invite them, and what were they doing to that poor child. Are they your friends; if so, strange company for you, I should say!”

“Why, Swamiji,” I said, “it is you who wanted them in. I ran away from their society, but you called them up.”

“How is that, say that again,” said Swamiji, “I called them?”

“Swamiji, you called me, doctor, and wanted me to be a doctor. Knowing what it means, I resisted. But, when you insisted on calling me that, and asking me to treat that child, I became a doctor. Whenever a person becomes a doctor, these apes, you saw, at once take charge. You must heard one ape say that they get bananas by pretending to protect people against fear - of disease, deformity death and so on. Life, for them, is a constant fight against something or other; killing something to postpone something else; and for thousands of years, they have so beguiled the world that nobody eats, drinks or breathes or even dresses without their advice on all aspects of Life, which they themselves have not seen. Each year, with each new nut they find, they change the design, and these ever changing designs of their fancy spun out of dry facts, they foist on the public, as new heights of knowledge. They have made a monopoly of what they call the apific way of life. They say that kindness has no value unless it is schooled by them. They believe and make many believe that unless they follow their advice, they would be soon disabled or dead. And when people die of the advice or despite it they offer an antidote and a new panacea; and a further antidote against the new stuff. The millions of lives they destroy to live on the fear of those whose death they cannot avert is seen to be believed.

“Swamiji, I think, Life, if one knows it, may help kindness to promote health and happiness. But today it seems to me that simple kindness is better than the fiendish approach of these apes and their upside down knowledge about Life.”

“You, yourself spoke of doing nothing but let the angel of kindness show herself - and I wondered why you were encouraging me to go the apific way again,” I said.

“Son, you amaze me. Why didn't you tell me all this before. I am glad I saw those creatures, your mentors, with my own eyes. Very often, villagers would say that they wished they had a doctor; and I felt you were an answer to their wishes. Of course I should have known; I saw you running towards something; I did not see what you were running away from, when I first saw you. Why were the villagers wanting a doctor, then - the way the child screamed looking at those apes inside you. I would not expect them to hanker for a doctor.”

“Like a bird is attracted to the python, Swamiji,” I replied, “Things in fear are attracted to the source of fear. But you must have also seen how reluctant they are to go to the hospitals and that shows up - the nearer they go to the sources greater becomes the terror.”

“This is news to me,” said Swamiji, “I have known monkeys and something of their ways, their searches. But only now I see they are in this guise, too. I should not have dragged you into this but I was overcome by a desire to help the villagers.

“Now I see that one should not be overcome by desire, even the desire to help. What would they have done to that child if you hadn’t beaten them off in time! But why did you allow them to come in?”

“They are already there within, Swamiji. As soon as a person chooses to be a doctor, or is forced into it, he has to submit himself to this brotherhood. Then, for over six to eight years, they operator on him - open his brain and gradually introduce a certain number of little apes of different kinds inside it: The number and type of apicles introduced depends on the type and size of doctor one wants to become. For instance, one ape knows only about crooked legs, another about squint eyes and another about deranged minds - one deals in poisons and potions, another in weapons, a third in long-range guns, all designed to kill something or other, germs, worms and so on. There they permanently remain, and jump up and take charge as soon as the word doctor is uttered and run amok. I can't get rid of them, Swamiji. The only magic I discovered by accident is to give up the label, doctor. They look like the children of the Devil. Do you know the Devil, Swamiji? Have these apes anything to do with the Devil?” I asked.

“I know the devil, son,” Swamiji said, “the apes, I, now, know.”

“How can one know if the Devil is around, Swamiji,” I asked.

“Now that I have seen these apes, I can quickly tell you the signs. The Devil is always upside down. For it, the parts come first and the whole afterwards. So they think that the whole is made up of parts, without having the sense to see that the parts develop out of the whole. Their entire approach is guided by this.

“Then, again, the Devil always tries to explain the newer and higher things in terms of the older and lower - life in terms of body; mind in terms of Life; and soul in terms of mind. Explaining and standing under things is its method. All this talking we are doing shows its influence on us!

“But, the most unmistakable sign of the Devil is the vibration of terror and authority it produces in those around. This is the central thing about the Devil: the terror it creates paralyzes and puts one in readiness to believe it and obey. And no one is more ready to be terrified than the one who fears something or other, disease, death and so on;sand always the Devil promises succour, though its help is but a camouflage to another door to the same end.

“Look at what the apes did to the rabbit: they were looking at every bit of the rabbit except the rabbit itself; tearing it to bits and pieces; and then magnifying their errors by peeping through bigger and bigger lenses. They don't see that the rabbit came first and is more important than its hand, and that unless you know the rabbit, you could not know its hand. Note the terror they produced in the rabbit. Certainly, they are the children of the Devil, these apes with their apific method. I am glad I have come to know them.”

“How do I get rid of them?” I asked.

Make sure, son,” said Swamiji, “you don't ape the apes! ‘Getting rid off’ is their way. We don't get rid of anything. You have come a long way, son, and you know it. Be kind to them - you may even give them a banana, now and then. Don't worry, kindness is with you, and it will show the way; don't veil it even against apes. Above all don't be afraid: perhaps the apes have itchy claws and teeth. If you only see the claws and teeth and forget the ape, you will become one of them. Who knows kindness may find some use for claws and teeth, too! There are no exceptions, son. Things come to us; to be looked after and transformed by kindness - things, even the Devil, even fear!”

“You have been most kind, Swamiji,” I said , “you have shown me the face of kindness; maybe you will show me the face of Life, too: I see that all my troubles would not have been but for Life!”

“There is nothing I show son. Like kindness, Life is everywhere. Once it had come down here on earth, it is all around you and me. It will unveil itself if you let it - let us be whole and let us be kind - too many words.”

Thimmy looked up from his crouch at the master’s feet and yawned. Balu was snoring.

Oh, Life, show me Thy face!

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