“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.”
– Oscar Wilde (Irish poet and playwright of the nineteenth century)
The biting cold didn’t weaken Deepak’s spirits. As I reluctantly trudged out of the hall, my eyes still reeling in a stupor, I overheard him sing traditional prayers. His buoyant mood was the antidote for my misery of waking up at God damn four in the morning! While the world outside our small ashram slept blissfully, we performed the austerity to rise early, take a cold shower, and perform our spiritual duties. Often, I’d catch my mind protest at this regimen- as a new apprentice in the ashram I had no choice; our tight schedules and rigid discipline seven days a week tired me. My heart yearned to lie on the soft bed at home where I could rise after another four hours, and no one said anything. But here I was: a monk in the making, and it was my choice.
Deepak’s sparkling and grateful temperament brought joy to many of our hearts. His cheerful humming early morning was an open declaration that monk life is a joyful experience. As I returned from the shower and dressed, I mentioned to another friend, Ashok, about Deepak’s positive attitude; how his simplicity, contentment, and absorption in spiritual practices is a great inspiration for all of us. I hoped Ashok would affirm, but he stunned me with sharp observation, “Oh, that’s nothing. He’s down with severe constipation since last two weeks. He confirmed to me that he’s successfully released all of that just now. So naturally, he’s relieved and singing a happy song.”
Ashok then dryly chuckled to himself as if to dismiss the event, and hurried to attend a chore.
I stood confused for a moment. What was the truth- my analysis or his judgment?
The wise Aki passed by me. He had heard us, seen my bewilderment, and also expertly read my mind. He gently tapped my shoulder and declared, “It doesn’t matter what’s the truth- what’s more important is what you choose to accept?”
To be continued…