The Wisdom had been in the place thrice seven years. Hardly greater in number were the listeners, and arid was the soil. In the learning of the true are two periods - that of the old knowledge and that of the new; the morning dawn and the hours of midday labor in the heat. The effortless revelation, the release from the one-life view: this is the dawn, this is the old, this is memory of past inner knowledge speedily awakened by the outer word. Thereafter come the years of new effort, self-induced, self-devised, bringing wisdom beyond that of past lives. Without works ever-increasing and study ever-assiduous, the tongue of the most golden expounder, the letter of the noblest book, seem repetitious and dull. These are the years decreeing the harvest of the new life.
Here, most seed grew stunted. Some, faithful in the letter of a duty undertaken, came on the hour, departed on the same hour; slipped imperceptibly out of fellowship; others starved inwardly for companionship needed unknowingly. Some sat with sight reverted upon household duties, or diversions, waiting the end of the hour. Some drifted in and out on the winds of transient affinity, running here and there. “That one must be heard while he remains! This place is ever ready of access!” Many, their compassion drawn by the ceaseless turmoil of those expiating karma in the kali Yug, said, “We must fill stomachs before we can fill minds,” and devoted their loyalty and substance to empty bellies and cold backs; of empty bellies and cold backs there was no end, of wisdom no beginning.
Some were willing enough to teach, but unwilling to learn the Dharma of the teacher. Seeing the Companion toiling alone, they thought it to be from pride and self-sufficiency. They heard not the invitation to responsibility multifold extended, and suspected not that the Companion was bound by the requirements of a teaching founded upon a thousand ages of wisdom.
The young, without family guidance, came when game or arena did not command prior allegiance. If reminded at home, they brought but meagre remembrance of the hour seven days gone, an hour crowded out and paled by more luring diversions. The heavy hand of war lay on the land, its crimson flames tinging the minds of old and young, damming out the Radiance.
On a day, the Companion, trying to ascertain the needs of the learners, put a question: an old question, asked an hundred times, answered an hundred times from the book. He framed it in new words. The pupils, surprised, regarded him with knitted brows.
His gaze sought the sunlight at the windows, and inwardly he asked:
“Say that the key to this place should turn for the last time, within the hour, what real difference to any, save myself?”
There arose the Voice of the Silence, bestowing the solace of a hard saying:
“Long ago, in a land forgotten, you willingly accepted this station, in compensation for the years through which others awaited your own tardy awakening. In no other way could you have met again these delayed ones - delayed by your own indifference. Who suffers? In their ignorance, they are content - for now. Cast your own reckoning.”
Cogitated the Companion:
“The Work after all is good; otherwise the Voice would not have been heard. In what is it good? This I must know, in order to extend the necessary, avoid the unnecessary... looking to myself, I have acquired a little knowledge of men, some humility, many grey hairs, and much weariness... of positive qualities, perhaps some steadfastness. Steadfastness learned in the pond of this life may be of importance in some ocean of the future.
“What of these others? Why are they here at all? In earlier years, it could have been - surely it often was - because of my vibrant voice and reassuring vitality. Not now. What is now here is truly of the Eternal. The flame in them burns low and flickering, often is seen not; yet it lives and from no earthly fuel at all. Surely it cannot die.
“In the world of the Great Illusion, earth-shaking deeds are being performed by the hour. But when the captains and the kings depart, the tumult and shouting dies, and the dust of battle settles to carpet universal desolation. What, then, of all that? Perhaps in this score of years we have but provided a grain of sand for the Guardian Wall* - but the Wall is of Eternity. Let us then seek the grain of sand.”
Taking thought, he found another frame for the question, neither according to the words of the book nor according to his learning, but in a manner to be understood only by the heart. On the face of the seemingly dullest pupil broke a quick shy smile of understanding.
The grain was found.
Last Update : January