"I will tell you a story!"
These were the most thrilling words I have heard, even now. Especially when these stories are from my dad. My dad's stories are really too good. I like hearing them for the very simple reason they though they are short they make you think for an unnaturally long time.
"There was a sage sitting outside his hermitage and like most of the people in his time he made a vow. A serious one...." My father said as I giggled. "The sage vowed that he would always speak the truth!" My dad said solemnly.
I rolled my eyes wondering whether the story was even relevant today, in our times when there were people like me, who lied so effortlessly that most of the times I did not even know I was doing it.
Anyway, my father continued. "The sage had a hermitage and just beyond his hermitage was a forked road – one of the roads led into the forest and the other road led to another village."
Now that my dad had laid the premise of the story, he continued. "One day, the sage saw a terrified man with blood oozing down his arms, running on the road. The sage saw the whole thing and also saw that the injured man entered the forked road to the right and hide inside forest. A few minutes later, some thugs came and saw the forked road and then they spotted the sage. The thugs who were armed with big sticks, knew that the sage had taken a vow to always speak the truth. So they asked the sage where the injured man had gone!"
Now I was horrified, as my dad continued. "The sage did his duty perfectly and told the thugs where the man was hiding. The thugs then went inside the forest and killed the injured man hiding there."
God. This was a horror story. I thought as I watched my father wondering what my dad wished to tell me with this parable.
Unmindful of my mental status, my dad now looked at me. "A few years later, the sage died. Do you know what happened when the sage went to the Abode of the Dead?" my dad asked me.
Seriously, I did not expect my dad to ask me that. I am very sure some very smart people somewhere were probably trying to find the answer to that one....
"It was ordained that the sage had to go to hell." My father said simply, not waiting for me to give the answer.
I blinked. I honestly had not seen that one coming. "Why?" was all I could manage.
"The reason was that, the sage spoke the truth, when he should have lied!" My father said with a small smile.
Ok, Now I was speechless. For a really long time.
"But we are taught to always speak the truth, dad!" I said slowly, after some time. I am more than sure that one of my boring teachers would have told me that. Or probably all of them did. "It is right to speak the truth, isn't it?" I asked quietly, watching my dad.
My dad laughed. "It is not about lying or telling the truth, kid! This story got your attention, because it addresses a gray area." he said. "As children, we all learn that the world is always black or white; good or bad." My dad looked out of the window wistfully. "But then as we grow, we realized that life is never like that. People are never good or bad. They are just people put in different circumstances, other than our own. Some people choose a particular way driven by a particular emotion. The others choose another path, based on another emotion." My father watched me with a smile. "Once we begin to analyze people and their reasons, we may know the reason for their decision. But then as life goes on, we come to know that there is nothing to go on, no exact path which can be followed when there are gray areas."
My dad shook his head and for a brief second I could see an old man...Not my dad, but an old man with the weight of all he had done, in his whole life. "The rules and the laws are there and made for us to lead a happy and comfortable life. But then in some cases the rules cannot be followed. The laws cannot be made applicable. So what do we do? We bend the rules...We bend the rules to suit our needs for that purpose. And in doing so, there is one question that always haunts us – Was I correct in doing so....?" My dad said watching me.
"I am not the right person to answer that question." I said watching my dad.
My dad smiled, shaking his head. "Nobody other than the person who did the act, is the right person to answer that question. All of us know, deep down in our hearts, we always know whether what we did was correct or not."
My dad watched me. "Some gifted persons already know the value of listening to their hearts. Such persons act because it was necessary to act in that particular way at that particular time. They see no regret in what they have done, because they know that that was the only thing they could have done at that time. They are the ones who are truly enlightened..."
"But to the rest of us, the normal humanity, we are always at conflicts with our heart and brain. The heart asks us to do something because it is right. The brain overrules it, because the act is against the Rules.....The Rules which always deals with black and white....."
"So then what can determine what is right or wrong?" I asked finally.
My dad made no reply. He just pointed his hands at my heart. "That is the only guide we have. Would be a good idea to listen to it!" was all he said.