Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tales of the Disciple #2: It's in the Seniority Silly!

The thick matte darkness slowly and ever so gently, to the strains of a solemn melancholy oriental tune, swirls out of its thick fog to reveal a courtyard with huge flat square dull grey stone tiles laid closely next to each other. In between them grew a sliver of carefully manicured grass. The tops of the grass ended at exactly equal the height of the stones. In the middle of the courtyard stood two men. One was an old though handsome looking man of erect bearing dressed in a loose fitting though neat looking brown robe. Standing beside him was a taller though slightly hunched fat man whose dirty puke-green robe were at its limits in containing him. Only the youthfulness of his face, which was the best feature on his face, hinted that he was younger than the man that stood beside him. Both baldly faced a fantastic vista of snowcapped mountains of bluish hue with some in the distance shyly draping themselves with sedate though large fluffy clouds nearby. It was still bright despite the sun being happily muffled by the sweetness of the air.
'The air up here is beautiful,' said the Master as he took a deep breath, smiling as he exhaled slowly, savouring it.
'Yes. The mountains are nice too,' replied the fat disciple.
They stood there in silence for a moment, one enjoying the view with his eyes closed as if in ecstasy and the other whose ends of his thick furrow brows slowly inched closer as his lips pursed and twisted quite unnecessarily.
'Do you know why I asked you to accompany me, oh ample anteater?' asked the Master, the deep and rich timbre of his voice loud and clear though sounding as if part of Nature herself.
'Ah, Master, it is as if you read my thoughts!' replied the fat one, startled at being discovered.
'Alas, such powers are beyond one such as I. It was your face that betrayed you
, oh stout water buffalo. It twitches so loudly like the death throes of a fish upon a tiled floor,' the Master helpfully explained.
'Ah, Master! Thy ears are as sharp as thy thoughts. Praise be to the Eternal Presence for thy presence,' began the disciple enthusiastically his spirits rising.
'Enough!' the Master commanded. 'Cut the chatter. Get to the matter.'
The disciple trembled at this firmness of his Master's tone.
'Yes, Master!' he cried. 'My grief is over a matter that happened middle this week Master. I, along with, disciple Ji, were tasked with tending to the library that day.'
'Ji?'
'Yes, Master. He is a one of our new additions last week. But he was a very senior disciple in some other Master's teachings.'
'I see. Carry on.'
'Thank you, Master. One of the senior students came to me to regarding an interpretation on a particular portion in the text of Balraoth. I do not claim to know much, Master, but the text of Balraoth I do know. This is my favourite reading. The quality of prose there is unrivalled amongst the other texts. The portion that he required assistance too was one that I knew by heart. So I tried to explain it to him but he stopped me soon after. He requested I ask a senior librarian to explain it for him. I told him of my familiarity and love for the text and suggested he hear me out. He reluctantly agreed. So I started. While I was doing so, I could see his eyes leaping behind me and scouring the area. The way his eyes widened and retracted to its normal size indicated he had caught sight of disciple Ji reading quietly with both his arms folded on the table and his face looming over the text, overwhelming it with his shadow and shrugged shoulders. I could then see his mind turning. His eyes were fixed on me to give the impression he was listening but I could see a void forming in the centre of his pupils as he gave himself completely over to thought. Even before the last syllable barely left off my mouth, he punched me with a question. 'That's very interesting. Thank you. I was wondering. Do you think I could have a word with our brother over there?' I was boiling with indignation even as I informed disciple Ji of his new found admirer. Since I was tending the reception, I went back to my station and sat down. I heard disciple Ji try to explain it to him. With the greatest respect, Master, he got it all wrong! He didn't even know which of the usual interpretive devices applicable! But that student looked on in awe at disciple Ji as if he were the author of the text itself. But anyway, that's what brought me to grief, Master,' said the disciple in one hasty, clumsy, spittle spitting go. None of the spittle touched the old man.
'O, Chubby Cicada?'
'Yes, Master.'
'You talk too much. You have gone on at length. But you have not told me what it is that bothers you.'
'I'm sorry, Master. I don't understand.'
'That's the problem with you, dumpy dragonfly. You speak before you think. I do not know what your complaint is. From what you told me,
you met the student's request. He came in seeking a senior librarian's opinion. He asked you to put them in touch and you did. He left happy because he got what he wanted. What are you upset about?'
'But I could give him the correct interpretation, if he asked me!' wailed the disciple.
'Ah. You are upset he did not ask you?'
'Yes!' cried the disciple a little too enthusiastically.
'Because you knew the text very well?'
'Yes. I would have given him the correct explanation.'
'I see. So that is why you are unhappy? Because the student was not interested in your explanation?'
'Yes.'
'Tell me o' hefty mantis, would you find grief in everyone who overlooked you for an answer you knew?'
'No.'
'Why not?'
'Because perhaps sometimes they didn't know to ask it from me.'
'Was that not the case with the student too?'
'But this is different because he came to ask me for help first, and he didn't listen.'
'Why should that be any different? Why should he believe what you say?'
'Because I was being honest!' cried the disciple.
'What has that got to do with whether he believes you or not?'
'Because its the truth.'
'But do all people seek truth?'
The disciple was nonplussed that his Master posed him such a question.
'All people should seek truth!'
The old man chuckled heartily.
'Yes, o' wobbly will 'o wisp. But you must learn to distinguish the is from the ought. What people think they are might not necessarily what they actually are. In the same way, the student thought what he needed was a senior librarian's opinion to be correct, not an explanation for him to consider and reflect upon. Clearly, he was merely seeking an easy answer to his problem, not an answer. Do you see now why you have no reason for grief?'
'Yes,' said the disciple, a warm smile slowly replacing his frown.
'Good. That shall be your lesson for the day. Let us retire.'
Both the unsightly disciple and lean old man rose from their cross-legged posture and walked towards what looked like an entrance to the forest. The disciple rummaged in the right pocket of his robes and fished out a thin piece of paper with some words scrawled on it.
'Just a moment, Master. Let me just read the directions again from ...' said the disciple before a gust of wind snatched the paper from his hands and blew it all the way to the edge of the cliff where it did a little swirly dance before leaping off.
The scene slowly fades to a jet black darkness to the strains of a violin riffing on some variation by Paganini before being brought to a sudden end with a loud discordant note blown by an old French horn that is due for servicing next week.
'O heavy hopper! Was that the map to our temple?'
'Uh... yeah, ' replied the disciple before mumbling quietly to himself, 'Shit. Should have brought the bloody mobile phone.'
'I heard that,' said the old man.

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