Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Reach out to the unprivileged


This is a story that might have happened in a remote area, in a thick forest, in a rocky cave, in a pre historic era, in a dark continent.
Even if you feel that this story might never have happened, it makes no difference, because the message it conveys is true and eternal.
It is about reaching out to the unprivileged; to those who have never seen or heard of the warmth of light.

A family, under certain circumstance happened to live in a dark cave. The cave was large but dark everywhere. No ray of sun ever entered into the cave. In fact, the forest around the cave never let the sun to peep through. It was thick, dense, dark and cold. The whole area had no days and night; because it was always night. There were no seasonal changes; no spring and summer; no autumn and winter. It was always winter everywhere there.

This poor family happened to be living in that area in a dark rocky cave. The father had never heard of light and heat, the mother never heard of sun and fire. Their children had no other experience different from their parents. They were not sad, not happy, but content with their life. Everything present there were theirs and nothing that was not their posed a temptation.

Sri Buddha, the great Indian saint and philosopher, was enlightened on the cause of suffering. He realized that craving is the cause of suffering.

The cave family had nothing to crave for; hence they suffered not.
They never craved for sun light; they never knew of its existence. They never wished for heat; they never experienced fire and warmth. Their eyes could see in the dark, their body felt warm in the coldness of the cave. Their imagination flew in and around the cave; it had no larger wings to fly far.

Ignorance was comfort for them. Ignorance was warmth. Ignorance was life to them.

One day a man from the ‘outside’ civilized world lost his way and entered this dark forest. He could not see anything and felt freezing. He collected a bunch of dry sticks, bundled them together and lighted it. The torch spread light and heat. He felt warm and could see into the forest. Far in a corner of the forest he saw a rocky cave. He decided to move into it.

As he approached the cave, he heard shrieks of men, women and children and sound of running feet. He smelt human beings. He knew that there were men and women in the cave and felt happy. To find a fellow human being in this dark forest is really a great comfort and hope. So entered the dark cave with his torch made of the bundle of sticks. Their shrieks became louder and the running feet made heavier sound.

He stood inside the cave and waved his torch. At the far end corner of the cold cave he saw a small family, rolled into one, eyes closed, shivering with fear shrieking helplessly. The civilized man from the outside world understood that they were afraid of him, mistaking that he was an enemy. So he assured them that he is a friend and will never harm them. He continued to tell his story, how he lost his way in the forest and told them that he needed their help to return to his home.

They did not turn towards him and they did not open their eyes. In a trembling and horrified voice, they asked him to throw away the torch. They could not name it, for they never saw it before. Their little vocabulary had no name for the burning wonder. They knew only one thing; the burning thing with the man is a torture to them. The light and heat of the fire were pain to them. They could not open their eyes. They were afraid to go near, for they do not know what torment it may fling upon them. They stood far from the light, much far from the warm of it. They ran and hid themselves in another part of the dark cave. They were afraid the light may destroy their eyesight for ever.

The man was confused. He did not laugh at them. He understood the plight of the cave family. He started a conversation with the cave family. A conversation can always bring the ignorant to truth.

He told them that what he held was only a bunch of dry sticks picked from their own forest. The only thing he did was to ignite them. Fire is such a magnificent blessing to man from God. Fire produces light that can help people to see around. Light is knowledge. Light is life. Light will never damage their eye sight. In fact their eyes, like the eyes of all other human beings in this world, is created to function with the aid of light. Light is necessary to see with their eyes. Fire is warmth also. Fire produces heat. It chases away coldness of the cave. Fire is comfort.

After his short speech, like a Christian preacher who makes the alter call, he invited the cave family to come forward and experience the fire, the light and heat. They moved not. He repeated his arguments in favor of light and heat. He called them to come forward.

A small girl appeared in the far end. Her family members produced a shrill sound of shock. But she walked slowly and slowly towards the light. She hid her eyes with her fingers and walked carefully with small steps. As she was walking towards the fire, she cautiously removed one little finger from her eyes and then the next little finger. Her slow steps took her to the fire, the light and heat. She opened her eyes in amazement. She looked around to see the cave and everything inside the cave. The man asked her to look out at the trees around in the light. She could not believe that the surrounding had such beauty that she missed so long. She was happy, thrilled and jumped with joy.  She felt the heat, the warmth of the heat. The icy cold, the freezing air of the cave left her exposing her to the warmth of fire. She felt a new life passing through her little body.

She looked back and beckoned her parents and other family members to come forward and embrace the new knowledge and experience. But they refused in fear. Fear is the weapon of ignorance. Ignorance keeps its captives in slavery with fear. The cave family expressed their fear for the little child. No words of her or of the ‘outside’ man could move them. The little girl expressed her despair that they will never come forward to the light.

The man smiled. He lifted one burning stick out of the bunch of sticks and handed it to the little girl.
‘They may not come to us; they may not come to light; they may not come to the warmth of fire. But surely you can take the fire, the light and heat, to them. Go! It is your duty! Only you can do it. This is the purpose of your life.’

The little girl, held the burning stick in her hand, walked back to her family who were still living in the dark, cold corner of the cave. She was holding fire; she was taking light to them; she was carrying the truth.

Professor Jacob Abraham

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