Caharqua, of the place once called “Central Land,” but now lost to the annals of man, sought wisdom and essayed the helping of mankind. But with the other half of his mind and body, both being strong and able, he sought also for gold and the praise of men.
His life not proving to be as he had hoped, he applied to Joncala, the Companion, respected by him, for advice. Said he:
“I have sought fulfillment of aims, and have achieved in diverse ways. But always envy and jealousy have pursued me. In the moment of triumph I have been flagellated with lies and scourged by contumely; yes, even at the hands of those most benefitting. When seeking renown, men striving more mightily toward the same end, have accused me of overweening ambition; and others, holding much more gold less scrupulously attained, accuse me of greed. It is as though hate were drawn to me as by a magnet, clinging to deeds esteemed innocent when done by others. Upon an occasion, when the land was in peril of evil times, I pointed it out, showing the measures that must be taken lest disaster befall. They spat upon me for this, including those having most to lose by ignoring my words. I was even threatened with the King’s wrath for upsetting the equanimity of the realm.
“It then happened that sorrow came as I had warned; but instead of proclaiming my wisdom and making amends, the people elevated small men, even those men who had most abused me for my foresight, into new powers. These powers were then used to bring about, in a weak and partial way, the measures that I had first preached. In no way was my name mentioned in this, but these small ones proclaimed loudly that it was they who had had wisdom all along. And the people, who a brief year previously had scoffed at my understanding, believed them. My name, when recalled at all, was of one known as mad. And indeed, mention of my name brought to some a vague resentment, they having in some inscrutable manner identified the one who warned of disaster, with the cause of that disaster.
“Thus, it happens that, able and capable, among those sadly needing my service and guidance, myself also holding much wealth and successful in many enterprises, I am unloved and without ease. How is this?”
Said Joncala: “You do many things well in a land where men do few things, and those poorly. In spite of much envy and hate, you have gained wealth against multitudes opposing such gain. Have you noted fear toward you on the part of the people?”
“Yes, but why?”
“There are two kinds of men in the world. To the one, an encounter with the unknown is an invitation to embrace and understand; a meeting with superiority is an incentive to emulation. To the other sort, all that is unknown is to be feared; perceived superiority is to be envied and hated, without hope or emulation.
“It is your karma to have been born in a land ruled by this latter breed. Your own success in objectives envied by them, has hitherto walled away from you also those few who might otherwise have been known to you as understanding friends.”
“What sin, then, have I committed, to be thus born out of proper time and place, in a tribe where superiority makes me inferior?”
“It is not a sin; it is an enterprise not yet properly understood. Let us imagine a man of noble aim secretly entering a foreign land for the purpose of conspiring to liberate it from an oppressor. How would he conduct himself?”
“He would go in other than his own likeness.”
“What occupation would he seek?”
“Whatever occupation would best bring him to those of like mind.”
“Would the achievements dear to the natives of that land be an object to him?”
“No; such achievements would not interest him, and in fact would bring upon him undesirable notice. This would also be true of those whom he sought. In this relation, superior capacity exhibits itself in perfect simulation of the commonplace.”
“If necessary, then, he would, in pursuit of his object, sweep floors, clean sewers, or even cut up corpses on the Hill of the Dead?”
“Such exigencies would perhaps forsooth lend spice to the great adventure. But such poor are pinned down in movement, restricted in association, and lack time for aught but winning bread.”
“Tell me, then, his conduct in your own words.”
“He would disguise himself upon entering the land; he would then endeavor to discover the paths of those of like mind, and place himself in their way by following some suitable but modest occupation. He would be neither poor nor rich in seeming, seek lodgings neither bare no luxurious; eat food neither cheap nor costly. In a word, his way would be the Great Median - outwardly; a secret enterprise inwardly. Such a man, if of good address, may associate with the great, yet move also unquestioned among the poor. The spies of war lords so act with ill intent; a lover of mankind might so act with good intent.”
“For him, then, the gaining of gold and fame would be at best diversions from the issue; at worst, dire hindrance and peril to the mission?”
“Even so. And illumination now falls upon the perplexities of my life.”
“Would there be another reason why this agent of a superior land should not exhibit his accomplishments in this dark and inferior one?”
Caharqua thought for some time.
“Perhaps. What else?”
“I think that envy and hatred roused by one of superior power would retard the evolution of these beings and bring upon them great future disasters. Better then, that these things be done badly by them, than well by others, if hate be the price of the doing.”
“Have we, then, really anything more to discuss on this matter?”
“Only this: I know no land of birth save this one. Of what superior race am I native?”
“Let us assume that in entering this dark land, an agent of its deliverance must at the border suffer a sickness depriving him of material memory. This would not change his true nature, nor the power of a vow undertaken long ago?”
“No; it would not. What then is the name of the oppressor from whom this land is to be delivered?”
“Mara is the name.”
Last Update : January