Symbols of the world's religions



Bal Natu

Betrayed by my family and friends, disgusted with the ways of the world, I left my home. After a long, long journey I came to a most desolate region of rocks and thorns. The sun rose high and fierce, but I continued on, in spite of thirst and exhaustion. There was no sign of water or vegetation anywhere. A feeling of total helplessness came over me at last.

In desperation, I cried aloud, "Where are You?"

And, to my amazement, the words echoed back to me: "Where are you?"

How could this happen? I could not explain this to myself, as there were no hills there to reverberate the sound. As far as my eyes could see, there was only that barren wasteland, stretched out in every direction. However, as I squinted into the distance, a small black speck arrested my attention and, for some uncertain reason, I was drawn to it. With a feeling of urgency, I began moving toward it. As I came closer, I saw that it was an improvised shack.

Who could have built it there, and why? Should I knock on the battered door? I could not decide.

Finally, with some hesitation, I pushed the door open. To my great surprise, I saw You sitting at ease with a jug of cool water and a glass by Your side.

I did not expect You here!" I exclaimed.

You smiled. "Neither did I." And You continued, "Did you not call on Me with a spirit of hopelessness and helplessness?"

"Yes, I did, for I had literally lost all hope and felt helpless."

"How can I ignore a call that comes from the depth of anyone's heart? I had to rush here, to this dilapidated shack, to answer your call."

Lovingly, You poured water into the glass and offered it to me. I held the glass in my hand, and stared at You silently, as a feeling of gratefulness swept over me.

"Come on," You urged. "First quench your thirst, then say whatever you have in your mind."

"Before I take the first sip, let me ask You one question."

"I know your quirk. Well, what is it?"

"Was it You who echoed my question?"

"Yes, that was the response of My presence in you. Did you not feel a pull drawing you to this place? The echo meant: 'Where are you? I am here'." In a deep sweet voice You continued, "When I am called, I become whatever I am taken to be. Yet I ever remain beyond any becoming."

As I raised the glass of water to my parched lips, two large teardrops fell into it. Having drunk, I put the glass on the mat and spoke in a choked voice. "Yes, it was Your compassionate presence that drew me here." Then I added, "These few sips have refreshed and fortified me. Yet I must admit, I wish to leave the world for good, for I am really tired of it."

"But not tired of yourself!" You chuckled and added, "You may run from the world, but it will follow you stealthily wherever you go."

"Then what should I do?" I asked.

Without a moment's break You responded, "Hopelessness out of frustration is a temporary reaction to the difficulties you fear to face. Helplessness that results from physical weakness or mental crisis constitutes a forced truce. Such states of mind do not last long."

I shook my head wonderingly and asked, "Then what is the remedy? Are You displeased with me?"

"Not really. But I am not pleased either."

"Now I am even more confused! What path of life should I choose? Do You want me to go back to the city and take a job?"

"Listen to My words, but follow only what you honestly grasp in your heart. Otherwise your mind will continue to crave subliminally for the things you have discarded out of dissatisfaction or condemnation. You may leave the city, but the houses and streets will crowd your mind. This is a greater burden for you to carry, for it smothers the very spark of life."

I broke in impatiently, "But there are people who lead a secluded life. I would like to live that way."

"Imitating others should be avoided." You continued to explain, "For a few, leaving the world or the worldly way is as natural a thing as a ripe fruit falling to the ground. Your experiences are parts of a blown-up balloon and are comprised of your thoughts. They are a web woven by your feelings. The source of your life is the spark of spirit in you, journeying to merge in Me — the Real Life."

"Can You tell me something about this Real Life?"

"It is beyond verbal expression."

"Then why do You speak of it to me?"

"Nothing I say is without purpose, but forms a part of a significant design which gradually unfolds to your awareness and reveals the falsity of your thoughts and of the world you live in. Simultaneously, My words awaken you more and more to My presence concealed within you."

"Then do You mean to say that all that I am going through now is a play of falseness — just a dream of my mind?"

"Definitely, whether you call it joyful or sorrowful. Would you like to be convinced of this?"

"I would be extremely indebted to You if You gave me even a glimpse of it," I humbly replied.

"Then let us leave this shack," You said, and got to Your feet.

Beckoning me outside, You gestured toward the sky. What a wonder! Instead of the mid-day sun, I saw a lovely full moon. Suddenly, there was a clap of thunder. And I awoke to find myself in my bed.

A full moon peeped at me through my window; it seemed to be smiling, mischievously. Coincidentally, in the distance, thunder rolled.

"What a fantasy! Am I awake or dreaming? Is this a dream, or was that a dream?"

I lay in my bed for some time in a pleasant state of wakefulness. It was as though the immensity of the cloudless, soundless, blue sky prevailed in me.

But then again the thoughts began to rush through my mind. It was as though I was speaking with You: "Would that I could be stationed at that tangent point which intersects these two dream-dimensions of my life! But who knows? That might confuse me all the more. Of course I know that You help me as much through confusion as through clarity. The only solution, if any, is Your grace — the grace of the Awakened One, being fully awake in me."

However much I try, I cannot reconcile these two dimensions — these mutually integrated dreams. Is my life in its entirety a part of my dreaming about the Awakened One, or the creative dreaming of the Awakened One, in me, as me? Incomprehensible!

1991 © Sheriar Foundation


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