The Other Shore

So it came, that we spent years trying to defeat death.

We pushed back, little by little, and it came charging at us with a fury. Our lives began to fray and reknit in strange patterns that seemed to unravel on the run. Some of us learned firsthand how to suffer…how to breathe through pain…how to endure. Others never had a chance.

Dying is a test you cannot fail.

People fall away continuously through blind chance or conscious choice.

The unknown soldier bleeds behind a rock…where no one will find him; the old farmer falls in his field, accompanied only by bad mannered crows; the drowned, the frozen, the drug addled loner, the alcoholic divorcee…the sick, the lame, the anti-social misanthrope…the deaf, blind and lazy, the rich, famous, and strong minded…all find their private ending.

Archaeologists sift through tons of dirt to find the tooth of a hunter who fought some beast and lost,  never to return.

A single thread, ties each and all, into a common fabric:

I think you know.

There is a Hindu story of the disciple Narada meeting Vishnu on a hill. Vishnu grants him one question, and Narada asks:

“What is Maya?”

Vishnu begins his reply by discoursing about the illusory nature of time…; how time eternal is different than the clock of man…but before long, he notices, from the blank look on the face of his disciple, that his long winded explanation is not penetrating Narada. The God, feigning thirst, asks him to get some water from a stream that runs through the wood at the bottom of the hill. Narada dutifully goes to fetch the water but as he is filling his vessel by the edge of the stream, he sees the reflection of a beautiful woman on the other shore. He looks up and they fall madly in love. Narada embraces her, and they walk off into the countryside, talking of a future together. They are happy beyond reason and eventually raise four lovely children in their home among sumptuous gardens.  Narada is content beyond his wildest dreams. They grow old, have grandchildren and spend their days in bliss. Life was perfect.

One day there was a tumultuous storm. The rains deluged the neighboring lands; flooding the fields and washing away their home. Narada and his family were trapped by the waters. He watched as his beautiful wife drowned just beyond his reach and tried in vain to hold his children to him…but one by one they were stripped from his arms and swept away by the raging flood.

Finally, the water subsides and Narada, his home, family, and future washed away, wanders up a nearby hill in despair. There he sees Vishnu, sitting beneath the tree, exactly where he saw him last. In tears, he tells Vishnu of his beautiful life and its’ tragic undoing, and implores Vishnu to explain to him why he would allow that to happen.

Vishnu replies, “I don’t know why you are so upset…you’ve only been gone five minutes…and where’s my water?”

“How can you be so remorseless?  How can you ask me for water when I have lost my entire family?”

Vishnu looks upon him with great compassion, and says:

“You… my greatest devotee, enchanted by the pleasures of a worldly life…forgot all about me. You deluded yourself into believing that your world and your life were all that mattered and nothing else was of any consequence. Through your perspective, the material world was infallible, irresistible, invulnerable……………….perfect.”

“That is Maya.”

If we are lost, we will be found, but angels mend through fierce intervention.

The spirit will not be kind…it will not comfort, but cauterize…it will chastise and stoke your purgation. …so instead of helping you up, you might be dragged to the curb where you’re forced to rise on your own. Doors will open that had been barred, but it is we that must walk…or crawl through. The offer of redemption only provides the strength we must use to redeem ourselves.

Maybe they don’t like to be bothered.


~ by theoxherd on August 4, 2012.

One Response to “The Other Shore”

  1. I don’t know if you read science fiction, but Lord of Light creates a great connection between Hinduism and modern religion.

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