Monday, October 22, 2012

Letter I - A monk's new beginning

To my brother,

      Peace and blessings be upon you. By the time you read this I shall no longer be in Talsit. On ------ last I joined the crew of a Togapa merchantman bound for distant lands and cannot say when I will return.
      What precipitated this sudden turn of events? It might have been an incident that occurred the night before. Having emerged from a lengthy meditation on the All, I decided to take some air and found myself wandering the streets of Talsit, in the district near the temple of -------. It is a poor neighbourhood, and at night is (as you shall soon see) full of the dangers born of wretchedness. Deep in my thoughts, I was surprised by two rough men who threatened me with their makeshift weapons. Murder and robbery were on their minds. I dealt with them easily enough with my bare hands (it is not for naught that I have pursued the arts of kalari payat these past years!) but felt dismay as I knelt over one of them to tend to the injury I'd inflicted on him in self-defense.

Such was his miserable condition that he could not imagine receiving any mercy from someone he'd tried to kill. Imagine, dear brother, his shock when I offered him all the money I carried so that he need not kill and steal to survive. I felt it was right to do, but the deed brought me no happiness. Instead I felt a deep despair at the existence of such desperate poverty in our fair city. You and I and our dear siblings grew up in the midst of wealth there, barely giving a thought to the lives of the poor whom we saw every day in the streets as servants carried us past in our litters.
     When, despite father's angry protests, I fled from my former dissolute life of idleness and became an initiate, I thought I had joined the "real" world. But, my brother, in truth the life of a monk in a temple is just as removed from the realities of the people as that of the aristocratic sybarite. As spartan as my new life was, it had no more connection to the struggling masses of our great city than did my previous life of luxury.
     I felt, then, that I must go out into the world and see for myself how people live and how the All is manifest everywhere -- in the fields, on the seas, in the deserts and atop the mountains. The next day I went down to the harbour and found a berth on a large ship bound for the ocean.
      I write you now from the locks near -------. May this find you in good health. Does father still refuse to hear my name mentioned in his presence? If not, pray give him and mother my love.

                                                                                Yours in the All,