Wandering Monk: Straight Ahead

With his new-found lightness, he walked on. Now very far away from where he started, the otherwise familiar road looked foreign to him. The landscape had changed, and the same trees and birds and grass that he once knew were close, felt distant. The path that was rough and the once friendly signposts refused to reveal the direction to his destination.

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The mountains were all covered in an impenetrable haze and the horizon had become a flat colour of nothingness. He walked, nonetheless, in what felt like — straight ahead. With each step into this alien cloud, the presence in the haziness of his journey seemed to clear in his mind. He looked at the path, it was one that was chosen a long time ago. With small changes along the way, it was well possible that he could be walking away from the destination. Or perhaps the destination itself had changed during his long walk.

However, it was also possible that the direction he was walking was fine-tuned and sharply aimed at his destination.

He had no way of knowing.

He maintained his pace, trusting his destination to guide him.

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Wandering Monk: A Lightness of Being

He was tired. It had been a long walk. The sun was shining overhead – in all its glory. He dragged himself slowly, his shoulders bent forward, as if there was a load that was harnessed, a heavy load, perhaps accumulated from his past.

Box Grunge, Bhimbetka Caves, MP, India

He stopped, looked down at the parched earth where beads of sweat made splatter shapes. He dropped to his knees, his head hung deep, his chin to his chest, his eyes slowly closing to the brightness that reddened the darkness, through his eyelids.

He was tired.

He almost wanted to stretch his shoulders and arms outwards, as if to release him of the harness. But was it physical in nature, this weight that he dragged along? Where was the harness bound? To his shoulders? To his mind? Wasn’t it the sweet burden of belonging that he had willingly chosen.

He went back to the days when he had taken on this burden. It was purposeful then. It was a sweet moment of a bright new day. The excitement of newness had engulfed him. He thought of all the days to this day – as he hauled this apparent sense of purpose.

Along the way, he had added to it.

He had allowed others to add to it.

From those that were afraid, from those that were lazy, from those that were cunning. From those that had been hurt or had been weak. From those that had gone astray. He had dragged their sense of purpose for them. He had done it for a while now.

His worst fear was to be called a traitor. He felt the need to belong to those that betrayed. Perhaps that is why he never questioned the weight that erased his footsteps behind him. He never questioned his speed. His mountains lay far away and he had much ground to cover.

He stood up suddenly, his head held high, he stretched and shrugged his shoulders. It was a new resolve and a lightness of being.

He strode forward, his pace now quickened and even.

Wandering Monk: A Known Challenge

He stood still.

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Some challenges are just like an alarm clock. A wake-up call, or reminders. They don’t necessarily defy you, they just ask you to look within yourself; what you always wanted to do. Those aren’t challenges.

Those are just friends, being friends.

Wandering Monk: Speaking with the Self

He stood grounded at that one place and turned round and round and round in circles till a sense of dizzy happiness overtook him. At once he saw his mountain friends, at once he saw the tall trees smiling at him, at once he saw the plain vast lands in their own silent frenzy.

The birds were curious of his turning around — some flew in the direction that he turned — never losing sight of his eyes, some flew in the opposite direction, catching him once every while when their sight collided in opposite direction.

It was all becoming a sudden one-ness while he spun relentlessly. He seemed to faintly recognise the common blur. The world seemed to be a different place with every revolution. Yet he was at the same place.

This is how a party looks, late at night, London, UK.

He was so easily able to answer all the questions that world posed for him. Yet, not a single question that he asked the world, was ever answered. But weren’t his questions the same as those that the world asked him? Did he then, not believe that the answers were the same?

He stopped spinning. Dizzy. The horizon was like a boat on gentle waves. The graphic representation of an abstract trigonometric equation. The mighty mountains seemed to be losing their balance even. Yet he stood on terra firma, though the land itself seemed to liquify.

Perhaps there weren’t any questions. Therefore, there weren’t supposed to be any answers. Or this world was full of answers, but we questioned them. Why then, did the questions come to life, and crowd the corridors of his mind? All that he knew — his thoughts, his answers almost, were blocked by the crowd of questions. He had all the answers, only they never reached him — they were jostling for space in the crowd of questions.

He had to make way.

Wandering Monk: The Journey of Love – III

And a long walk it was.

Tiring, as he had experienced all this while. As he looked for a place of rest – he saw none. The entire world was a place for him to rest – he could choose any, as he wanted. But he couldn’t find a place to rest where he would feel comfortable.

There were no densely-happy trees, no silent-mountains even, that would offer him some shade from the scorching sun. A barren land lay all around him. Not even a bird in the sky to assure him of a source of sustenance nearby. If he was in a desert, he would have reconciled, but this wasn’t a desert even.

He sat down where he was – it was as good a place as any other.

He looked ahead at the path before him. Where he would walk, would be his path. None had walked here before. In his mind a mild anger created a nest. He knew that the tinsel had to be removed before the house became home. He didn’t sense the trees, birds, and the grass anymore. He felt that he didn’t sense them because they had ceased to sense him.

Yet another twig in the nest.

Someday, if he ever met them again, he would hear from the trees, birds, and the grass that had left him – his doing for the distance that had occurred – for the bridges that he didn’t build. He smiled. When he walked from his home – he was aware, yet not conscious of what that meant.

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Another heat wave tickled his thinning frame, making him look far in the distance where shade would be. It was the feeling that a man on the mast must have – when he sighted land – of almost reaching the destination. Perhaps there was a different love waiting in these barren lands – or beyond them. An expression of love is only as meaningful as the experience. Else they were empty words – like the land he was in. Bereft of any joy – a blank canvas on which no colours would stay.

Such weak, this love
Asking of a visual presence
Assurances every moment
Of your existence

Of your commitment
Of the need of action
That dignifies, and even
Defines the emotion.

He covered his eyes with his right hand, and slept, sleep eluding him, yet peaceful in countenance.

Wandering Monk: The Journey of Love – II

He walked on, in what seemed to be a straight line.

The sun and the leaves continued to play their ballet of light. Hiding here and showing there, escaping here, peeking from under, and then getting caught in between. He never missed the play as he walked along; even if he did not look.

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One thought arrested his mind, as he released his feet onward. He had often imagined that his journey was in search of love. A long time ago, he believed that love was something that you left behind; allowed to be. And in certain ways – love happened to be all around as we left love behind and walked on. So, we never actually left love behind. This thought that bound his attention challenged him about the purpose of his journey. If he already knew so much about love, why did he walk on – why did the search seem incomplete?

He pursed; nearly pinched his lips as he walked on.

It wasn’t about love perhaps, it was about him. Or perhaps, they were the same thing.

This was going to be a long walk.

Wandering Monk: The Invisible Circle

He yearned for the known.

For so long now, he had walked unfamiliar roads. He thought of home. He felt like going home.

The sun was shining bright that glorious afternoon. He felt cool, however, under the mountain shade. Far, he could see the sun, light up the grass, and the small trees enjoying each ray of light that attempted to make way through their dense leaves. The leaves played with the light like little children in a park, and bounced it off each other, eventually allowing the light to pass through them.

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He leaned his weary back against a rock.

He wondered why he had left home, to begin with – what made him take this long journey? Is purpose guided by an absence or by a presence? He smiled at the irony of what he felt. There was always a lot of love at home, always a hot meal and a warm bed. Was he travelling away from something he always had – in search of the same thing?

Was his journey to be just a huge circle?