My friends and I were staring at the mango orchard across the road. For many days we had been waiting for an opportunity to get inside. About 25 huge mango trees thrived in this grove – many of these trees, over 50 or 70 years old.
It was summer and they were laden with delicious mangoes. For reasons of security, this grove was always well guarded by an individual. This was a time of the year, when temptation to pick ripe mangoes was too good to resist.
That afternoon, however, the 'gurkha' (as the watchman is called, in India), had disappeared for a little bit from the grove. Seeing this opportunity, we decided to sneak in. There was a gap under the fence and the opportunity was too good to miss!
10 minutes later, I was headed for the river, a mile away, with a handful of delicious mangoes.
As I crossed the river to my favorite spot, I noticed my master there, seated on a small rock, with his eyes closed. This was among the many favorite spots where we met. The hilltop, this little spot on the river bank, or the quiet corner by the window in his room – these places are still fresh in my memory.
I tried to be as quiet as possible, as I neared him. I slowly placed the mangoes on the ground and sat down, leaning against a rock. A few minutes went by as I waited to catch my breath. My master opened his eyes and looked at the fruits. “They look delicious”, he said and reached out for the mango I offered him.
“Inside this mango is the answer to the question that has been plaguing you”.
“Which question, master’?, I asked. I had a question bank, those days!! Hence, the need to clarify which one my master was referring to.
“Two weeks ago, in this very place, you confessed how difficult it was for you to comprehend the existence of an infinite power within you. How do we even begin to conceive an idea, that infinite power and intelligence, is enclosed within ourselves”, you had asked. “How is it be possible for a body that is so easily susceptible to limitations, illness and death, to be capable of housing something powerful and infinite”?
I nodded in affirmation. “Yes master, I remember. Of course, I do. That has been on my mind, God knows for how long! When you tell me that an infinite presence is within my perishable self, I find it hard to believe”.
My master took a generous bite of the mango. I could see he enjoyed the fruit.
“Eat”, he said, pointing to the mango in my hand. I took a bite. "Oh my God – this is beyond deliciousness. No wonder, the scriptures call it, fruit of the Gods”, I said, taking another big bite...
“The same scriptures also refer to the mango as the fruit of knowledge”, my master was looking at the brilliant blue sky as he said this.
“And what knowledge does this fruit impart to me today, master”? Though I was very eager to listen to him, I was equally busy finishing the fruit.
He waited patiently. I finished eating and was about to throw the seed into the river, when he stopped me.
“In your hand, is the knowledge this fruit imparts”, he said.
I gave him a blank look!
“How long would this mango have lasted, if you hadn’t eaten it today’? he asked.
“Probably two days or less”, I replied, “considering the hot weather and the fact that it is already ripened so much”.
“So, would you agree that this mango is perishable”?
“Of course, master. I never said it was imperishable. It’s probably the most perishable of all the juicy fruits”, I quipped.
‘And what about the mango tree? How long does the tree last”?
“Years, I would think", I replied. The tree I got this one from, is probably more than a hundred years old.”
“How many mangoes, do you think this tree would have produced in its lifetime?” My master was in a questioning mood .
‘”I don’t know, master. Tens of Thousands, perhaps! It has an infinite capacity to produce”.
“The mango seed in your hand – what do you think will happen if you plant it. Do you think you will get a puny little, perishable mango tree lasting only a couple of weeks?"
I began looking at the seed in my hand, as my master continued, “Or, would the seed transform into a magnificent and gigantic tree?”
“A magnificent, almost imperishable tree”. My answer was a whisper.
“So, is it right to say that a perishable mango, with a lifespan of probably a week, has within itself, the powerful seed to create a gigantic tree”?
My eyes were closed. I gently got into the half lotus pose. Placing the mango seed on the ground by my side, I began tuning into my silent rhythms – of breath and thought.
I felt my master standing over me. He placed his hand on my head. A shiver went down my spine.
“And there, my son, is the answer to your question. Within you lies infinite energy, infinite power, infinite intelligence. Your body may be as perishable as the mango; For that matter, everything in this creation is perishable – but within the perishable you, is the imperishable”.
Tears were streaming down my face. My joy knew no bounds. “Thank you master. Thank you, oh thank you…. I now understand”.
“Good”, he replied with infinite patience. “Now go, live it”.
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