Previous: The Three Questions - Answered
The golden hues played with the slits in the clouds and the hues started turning purple.
Mesmerised, Josh whispered to his father, “It's beautiful, isn't it Pa? The unreal colours make you wonder whether it is really real."
"Yeah,” said Rosh, "Is it real? It is as real perhaps as you and I. Or are we unreal too? Who are we really?"
He sighed and paused, collecting his thoughts, and then began to speak again, "A King wanted to know who he really was - not as a king, but as a sentient being. He asked his ministers."
"When they could not satisfy him with their answers, they told him of a wise Bhikshu (Buddhist monk) who lived a solitary life in the forest. The King sent a chariot to bring the Bhikshu to him to answer his enquiry.
When the Bhikshu arrived, the King welcomed him and inquired courteously, “Thank you for coming at my request. I hope you were not inconvenienced in my chariot.”
“What chariot?,” the Bhikshu queried.
The King pointed to the chariot and said, “This chariot”.
“I see no chariot”, replied the Bhikshu.
The King was a bit puzzled. He pointed to the chariot again, and said, “This chariot from which you have just alighted after your journey from the forest.”
“I see that vehicle. I am not blind. But where is the chariot?,” the Bhikshu repeated.
The King was now thoroughly perplexed. The Bhikshu, seeing how the King was puzzled, took pity on the King and said, “I see no chariot. There is no chariot. Let me show you what I mean”. He pointed at the chariot driver, and asked the King, “Is this man your chariot?”
“No,” said the king, “He is the driver.”
“Ah! So he is not the chariot,” smiled the Bhikshu, “Then these horses must be the chariot you are talking about?”
“No”, replied the King, “they are just horses. They are in the chariot, but they are not the chariot.”
“Aha”, said the bemused Bhikshu, “So, the chariot is neither the driver, nor the horses. Let’s bring them here then. Now where is your chariot?”
The King pointed at what remained of the chariot, still confused. At the Bhikshu’s request, the wheels were separated and brought forth. The King agreed that the wheels were not the chariot.
Slowly the whole chariot was dismantled and each time, the Bhikshu asked the King the same question - whether that particular piece was the chariot. The King acknowledged that it wasn’t. Finally there was nothing left.
“Where is the Chariot?” asked the Bhikshu finally. The King had no answer.
"Ponder on that and perhaps you will discover who you are", said the Bhikshu as he walked back into the forest.
Dusk was turning into night. Silently, Josh stood up, put his hand in his father's palm and helped him up. Turning back, they walked back to home, each lost in his own thoughts.
Next: Why Do We Seek?