By Father Peter D’Sousa
We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started… and know the place for the first time
– TS Eliot
The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber has given us an interesting Hassidic parable which will inspire the adventurous world of today.
The story concerns a Rabbi Eisik, son of Rabbi Jakel, who lived in the ghetto of Cracow, when it was the capital of Poland. He had suffered numerous afflictions, and was very poor, but was a faithful servant of the Lord his God.
One night Rabbi Eisik dreamt that he was summoned to travel to far-off Prague, the capital of Bohemia, and there dig for a hidden treasure that was buried beneath the large bridge which led to the castle of the Bohemian king. At first, the Rabbi ignored the dream but after it recurred twice, he took courage and set off on his quest.
Rabbi Eisik reached the bridge, but discovered that it was guarded day and night by Bohemian guards. He could only come daily, look over the bridge, watch the guards, and cautiously examine the soil. Eventually, the captain of the guards enquired why he came daily, and what his business was. Rabbi Eisik was straightforward, and naively reported his dream to the captain, who responded with an uproarious and incredulous laugh.
“You poor old ignorant man,” the captain said. “No sane person would trust such stupid dreams! Why, if I were so stupid as to act on my dreams, I would be today wandering aimlessly in Poland! Let me tell you the dream I had. I dreamt that I was summoned to go to Cracow and dig for treasure in the dirty corner behind the stove in the home of one Eisik, son of Jakel! I suppose half the men in Cracow are called Eisik, and the other half are called Jakel! Wouldn’t that be the most stupid thing to do in the entire world?”
The Rabbi hurried home, dug in the neglected corner of his home, and unearthed the treasure which quickly put an end to all his misery. (Paul Clasper, Eastern Paths and the ‘Christian Way’)
The above story echoes the experience of many pilgrims on the path of spirituality. Although the treasure is to be found in one’s own house, yet for some strange reason, the journey has to be taken through distant lands, listening to voices of other faiths.
I consider myself fortunate to have come in contact with the technique of Vipassana meditation through a fellow priest. My first course in Vipassana was a memorable one. All that I looked for in my priestly studies was presented to me in a simple and scientific way. Through it, the teachings of Jesus have come more alive. There is joy in praying, living a religious life has become more meaningful, and above all, the treasures hidden in the Bible are being revealed with every reading in all their splendour. Life itself has become wonderful! I have found the treasure in my own house through the path of Vipassana.
The journey in Vipassana has been exciting, and at times, adventurous. Exciting, since life is seen with new eyesight or insight. Insights have a transforming effect for a steady pilgrim on the path. Adventurous, because most of my earlier beliefs have been shattered or changed.
Life has become more interconnected than before. There is a harmony in spite of the contradictions and paradoxes that life presents.
To be religious is to be inter-religious, is obvious.
Rites, rituals, dogmas become less important and almost disappear from one’s horizon of life but yet remain fascinating. Being takes precedence over ‘doing’ or being and doing become two sides of the same coin.
The story of the seven birds making an arduous journey across the seven seas to arrive at the kingdom of which they had an intuitive glimpse, seems to be similar to the journey of a pilgrim. The seven birds see the kingdom in themselves, and are totally transformed, full of joy and happier in spite of their difficult journey. The journey was the transformer.
Father Peter is a Catholic priest, and is attached to the Father Agnel Ashram
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