Monday, 1 June 2009

How Krishna avoided mistakes


Although every philosopher has disciples, Krishna would have preferred not to have any. “Life is barely long enough to learn what is what,” he often told himself. “Days are too short to try to teach those who cannot be taught.”

Nevertheless, out of kindness and love for humanity, Krishna did talk to Nadu from time to time. Have other philosophers been luckier in their choice of disciples? Would Krishna have become wiser if he had avoided Nadu? All this, we don't know, but it is difficult to say no.

One summer day, Krishna woke up at dawn, walked out of his castle, crossed the forest, arrived at the river, and sat down under a banyan tree to meditate. Five hours later, when the sun was already high in the sky, Krishna felt Nadu's shadow at his side.

“Long live the wise, Krishna,” saluted Nadu with a smile. “I have a question for you.” Krishna opened his eyes and took in a deep breath. “You know what I have told you, Nadu,” he replied. “Those curious enough to ask questions are always able to figure out answers for themselves.”

If we trust tradition, Nadu was not stupid and his vices were those of an average man. Don't we all wish to learn without effort and know without understanding? Nadu pointed at the stones by the river and asked “How come that every stone is different? Why are they not all the same?”

Krishna looked at the stones and shook his head. What a silly question, he thought, the answer is so obvious that even a child would know. “Each stone is different in order to avoid mistakes,” he explained calmly. The response seemed to puzzle Nadu, who stared at the river, totally confused.

Mistakes? What mistakes was Krishna talking about? After a long while, Nadu turned again to Krishna. “I cannot see what you mean,” Nadu confessed timidly. “How can stones err if they never make decisions? Doesn't the river alone determine the place of every stone?”

Lesser philosophers would have been exasperated by Nadu's inability to grasp simple truths, but not Krishna. With infinite patience, he stood up, walked up to Nadu, and pointed at the stones. “Tell me, Nadu, what would happen if all stones were the same?” inquired Krishna.

“Then those wouldn't be stones,” reasoned Nadu. “Those would be bricks.” Krishna nodded encouragingly, but Nadu was unable to finish the chain of thought on his own. “Tell me, Nadu,” Krishna went on, “what would happen if you found bricks in the river?”

Perplexed, Nadu looked again at the stones, wondering where Krishna's questions were leading to. “That would be a mistake,” Nadu acknowledged hesitatingly. “Bricks are meant for building houses and no sane man throws his bricks into the river.”

Krishna bent over, picked up a stone, and weighed it in his hand. “Tell me, Nadu,” Krishna asked further, “if things possess different shape, colour, and weight, is it not to prevent foolish men from making mistakes?”

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Frank-Bernard under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How Krishna avoided mistakes


Although every philosopher has disciples, Krishna would have preferred not to have any. “Life is barely long enough to learn what is what,” he often told himself. “Days are too short to try to teach those who cannot be taught.”

Nevertheless, out of kindness and love for humanity, Krishna did talk to Nadu from time to time. Have other philosophers been luckier in their choice of disciples? Would Krishna have become wiser if he had avoided Nadu? All this, we don't know, but it is difficult to say no.

One summer day, Krishna woke up at dawn, walked out of his castle, crossed the forest, arrived at the river, and sat down under a banyan tree to meditate. Five hours later, when the sun was already high in the sky, Krishna felt Nadu's shadow at his side.

“Long live the wise, Krishna,” saluted Nadu with a smile. “I have a question for you.” Krishna opened his eyes and took in a deep breath. “You know what I have told you, Nadu,” he replied. “Those curious enough to ask questions are always able to figure out answers for themselves.”

If we trust tradition, Nadu was not stupid and his vices were those of an average man. Don't we all wish to learn without effort and know without understanding? Nadu pointed at the stones by the river and asked “How come that every stone is different? Why are they not all the same?”

Krishna looked at the stones and shook his head. What a silly question, he thought, the answer is so obvious that even a child would know. “Each stone is different in order to avoid mistakes,” he explained calmly. The response seemed to puzzle Nadu, who stared at the river, totally confused.

Mistakes? What mistakes was Krishna talking about? After a long while, Nadu turned again to Krishna. “I cannot see what you mean,” Nadu confessed timidly. “How can stones err if they never make decisions? Doesn't the river alone determine the place of every stone?”

Lesser philosophers would have been exasperated by Nadu's inability to grasp simple truths, but not Krishna. With infinite patience, he stood up, walked up to Nadu, and pointed at the stones. “Tell me, Nadu, what would happen if all stones were the same?” inquired Krishna.

“Then those wouldn't be stones,” reasoned Nadu. “Those would be bricks.” Krishna nodded encouragingly, but Nadu was unable to finish the chain of thought on his own. “Tell me, Nadu,” Krishna went on, “what would happen if you found bricks in the river?”

Perplexed, Nadu looked again at the stones, wondering where Krishna's questions were leading to. “That would be a mistake,” Nadu acknowledged hesitatingly. “Bricks are meant for building houses and no sane man throws his bricks into the river.”

Krishna bent over, picked up a stone, and weighed it in his hand. “Tell me, Nadu,” Krishna asked further, “if things possess different shape, colour, and weight, is it not to prevent foolish men from making mistakes?”

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Frank-Bernard under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]