Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Genie and the Mind - Part III

Continued from previous post...

As the children settled in their chairs facing the old man and the visitor, the two Genies belonging to the old man and the visitor were busy counting up to a hundred and back to one in an adjacent room. Although the both of the Genies were in the same room, each one ignored the other and continued on tirelessly.

The old man said “Children, you are about to witness something very exciting, the likes of which you may never see again. Your grandfather and I share a wonderful secret.” The old man then called out and waved his hand in the direction of his Genie, hidden from view by a wall separating the two rooms. When his Genie did not respond, the old man then commanded his Genie in a louder voice, giving the children an impression that something magical was about to transpire. As if on cue, the visitor then shouted out for his own Genie. Hearing an order to stop counting, the two Genies slowly made their way into the other room. 

On seeing his Genie, the old man was taken aback to see his once restless Genie who had exhibited unbridled enthusiasm for chasing after many objects looking much calmer. Despite his outer youthful appearance, the old man also thought that he also looked wiser. Forgetting that the children could not see what he was looking at, he remarked to the Genie, “Only an hour has passed since I asked you to count just as my visitor asked his Genie to count, and I see a big difference in you. You seem to be less troublesome already.” The Genie then said, “Since I am an extension of you, what you see is merely a reflection of what is going on within you. Since I draw upon the energies contained in your mind, when I count, it is truly you that is counting. When you look in a mirror and see a smiling face, it is a reflection of your smiling face looking at the mirror. Similarly an angry face would be reflected back to you as an angry face. Earlier, you were very restless and I was feeding off that energy. Now this counting thing that you are asking me to do has had the effect of playing in the background of your mind, drowning out all other thoughts.”

The Genie then said, “This reminds me of an incident that I was witness to a few centuries back. I was serving a different master at that time. Being a freshly minted Genie, I was much less mature and would constantly ask questions about why I was supposed to perform certain tasks. Just like you, the master I was serving at that time was also quite fed up with me. In desperation, he sought out many wise men and one of them finally came up with a solution. The wise man who instructed my master to keep me busy doing a certain task also told him that by doing so he would ultimately win a treasure that was worth more than all the gold available on earth at that time. The thought of this pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow motivated my master to stick to the instructions given to him over the course of many subsequent years. I really liked my master and wanted to keep him happy and I did my best to stick to the task given to me. But my inherent wandering tendencies frequently clashed with the task on hand. But I persisted and what he made me do for the next several years helped me understand my role and my true nature.”

The Genie then narrated what happened next. “I was taken to a large lake. I could not see the bottom of the lake. The water appeared very muddy. My master then placed a large empty container a good distance away from the lake. This container was given to my master by the wise man who had given specific instructions on how to use it. I was given an old wicker basket and asked use this basket to to fill the container with water from the lake. I was instructed not to stop till the container was filled to the brim. I thought this was easy enough to do. But my master told me that there was one catch. Unlike the lake, the water in the container had to be crystal clear and the task would only be finished once the container was full of water and the bottom was clearly visible.”

The Genie continued, “I took the wicker basket and dusted off the dirt on the inside of it and took the clean basket and filled it with the muddy waters of the lake. I then dashed off to the empty container with the basket full of water. After a few steps I noticed that some of the water had leaked out of the basket. By the time I reached the container which was placed on a ledge near the lake, most of the water in the wicker basket was gone and a little of the muddy water remained. I poured out the little water that remained into the container and went back to fetch more water. After a few days, I had made very little progress. Most of the container was still empty. It appeared to get larger each time I put water into it. My master was unruffled by my slow progress. After a month’s effort, he came for the first time to inspect the progress that I had made. He was not happy when he looked into the container that was mostly empty. I told him that I was sorry for the slow progress.”

The master addressed the Genie, “ I slow pace of your work does not bother me. I am unhappy that I cannot see the bottom of the container. If I cannot see the bottom of the container when it is mostly empty, how can I expect to see the bottom of the container when it is full?” The Genie was disheartened and was aghast to see his master pour out a month’s worth of work. In a reassuring voice, the master then told the Genie, “I will teach you a little trick to get clean water out of the lake. Fill the wicker basket full of water. Wait for a while. You may see most of the water drain out, but the dirt in the water that remains will settle down after a while leaving you with a few precious drops of clean water. The wise man told me that a drop of clean water is worth more than a lake full of dirty water. The wise man also said that filling this container drop by drop may take many years, but what will be visible at the bottom of the container once it is full will be worth the effort.”

The Genie spent the next several years filling the container drop by drop. Just as his master had predicted, after several years of effort the container was full. The Genie went back to his master and announced his success. The master said, “Have you looked at the bottom of the container?” The Genie in his excitement at finishing the task had forgotten to look inside the container and hurriedly said, “No, but let’s go look at it together.” The master and the Genie proceeded to the container full of water. The Genie got the first look inside the container and what he saw at the bottom really surprised him. He looked up at his master and asked, “Look inside and tell me if you see what I am seeing?” The master looked at the bottom of the container was equally surprised to see what the Genie saw and said, “When the wise man who instructed me to have you do this told me that I would find the secret to a treasure that people spend lifetimes looking for.”

Both the master and the Genie looked several times at the bottom of the container and found no indication of a treasure or even a map to this illusory treasure. Looking disappointed, the master instructed the Genie to follow him in search of the wise man that put them through this ordeal. Many years had passed since they last talked to the wise man. They searched long and hard for him and not finding him anywhere they gave up. On the way back to the lake, the master and the Genie found a large shady tree and decided to rest their tired and weary bodies for night. Just as they were about to close their eyes, the master spotted a young man walking in their direction. The master had seen the young man many times while walking to and from the lake. Over the years, they had only waved at each other without actually striking up a conversation. This time, it seemed different. The young man was taking slow and deliberate steps towards them and master stood up to greet him.

The young man asked the master, “Have you been in search of someone?” The master replied, “Yes. Many years ago, I sought the counsel of a wise man who helped me understand and tame a Genie I met as a child. With the promise that the Genie would not trouble me and that I would end up finding a treasure, we were given a simple task that ended up taking many years to complete. I am now looking for the wise man as I have not yet found the treasure that was promised to me. Needless to say, I am a little disappointed.” The master then added, “We are in search of the wise man to make sure I followed all the steps he had told me. With my mind on the treasure, I was able to get through all these years without thinking of anything else. Believe it or not, after finishing the task that was given to me, I feel a strange sense of calmness and detachment, and now if I end up finding that treasure, it would just be a bonus.”

The young man looking excited at hearing this said, “I met this wise man just before he died. He told me about a treasure that he had promised someone. I was promised a share of this treasure if I followed certain instructions.” The master added, “If the treasure is what I see at the bottom of the container that we filled with water from the lake, you can have it all.”

The young man said, “Here is what I was told. The wise man asked me to come every evening to this very spot and wait patiently. Being told that one day this would pay off, I made this trip faithfully everyday. I could not stop thinking of my share of the treasure. I was told that I would one day I would encounter someone under this tree who would speak of a treasure. This would be my clue that I have met the person who would lead me to my share of the bounty.” The young man looked in the direction of the master and his Genie, “I saw you many times over the course of the last several years, and I only wish you had given me the even a slight hint of what you were doing and this perhaps would have saved us both several years. I guess this is how it was meant to be.”

The master asked the young man, “Would you like to look inside the container? Perhaps you might look at it with a different perspective and this may help us solve the mystery of this elusive treasure.”

The young man thought it was a great idea. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, the three of them set out to have another look inside the container.

On reaching the lake, the young man hurriedly made his way to the container full of water. He looked inside and started laughing and said “That clever man. He had me fooled all these years.” After thinking for several minutes, he addressed the master and his Genie, “ I can show you where the treasure is. I am thankful for your efforts in filling this container. You were giving the physically challenging part of the task and I was given the mentally challenging part of the task.”

To be continued....