Tao cow

It is time to set the pace and it is a cow that shows the way. He claims he has become a sage. Believable?

Dear Aristotle,

From the letters posted to you I would say that animals too are behaving, thinking and acting like humans. Rather unfortunate, I would say!

Hear this, my friends!

Purpose is a man-made concept.

Responsibility is self-imposed.

Performance is a mere comparison.

Come! Conform not to society but to the larger, natural way of the universe! Take the pathless way — be a Tao Cow like me!

I must confess it took me a long time to find the Tao way. Born in the narrow, overcrowded streets of the holiest Hindu city of Varanasi, I have no home, no family and no owner. Like other strays in my city, my life was wretched. Stoned by people, knocked down by vehicles, rounded up by police, hungry and mangy, I was belligerent and rebellious. So, how did I change? I read a lot. I read posters before I pull them off the walls they are pasted on; I read text books, newspapers and flyers before I gulp them down. That has changed me. So I suggest to all of you to read, read and read till your eyes close for the night. The mystical city too has played a part in making a sage out of me. Amazing place!

All and nothing

On the banks of the river Ganga and cradled by its tributaries Varana and Asi, the city of Varanasi is as old as the hills. It is a city of opposites and contradictions —

An ancient city of the past that looks to the future;

An everlasting abode of gods for transient humans to float through;

The holy cow is worshipped and also whipped.

The rich and the poor alike, take a dip in the holy river to wash away their sins.

A city where the living come to die.

Paradoxical, isn’t it? Well, here you just cannot miss the yin and yang — the two polar energies that make the universe happen.

Varanasi has 1,500 temples and many more shops selling worldly trinkets. Funeral pyres at the water’s edge burn through the night dispelling darkness. In the long corridors of Banaras Hindu University, Sanskrit, considered a dead language, is still spoken. Classical music is drowned out by the shrill horns of vehicles on the roads. Impoverished weavers create “kimkhab or Golden Dream” — silk and gold brocade fabric in a centuries-old tradition. It is a vibrant centre of natural contrasts, where one does not exist without the other.

What keeps me in sync with the universal way is my principle of “do nothing”. Wei wu wei is the paradox of “Action of Non-action” I realised that if I just go with the flow, in touch with myself without coming in my own way, I am at peace. This is true, my friends! What else can I say to convince you to follow the pathless way?

I see a cartload of yellow bananas passing by. I know all lust is grief. Yet, I shall follow it. If I am lucky, I might get a few.

Stray cow

Reply from Aristotle

I can’t believe a cud-chewer has written this letter.

Friends, read the lines below over and over again. There is so much meaning in them.

The Sage is occupied with the unspoken

and acts without effort.

Teaching without verbosity,

producing without possessing,

creating without regard to result,

claiming nothing,

the Sage has nothing to lose.

Published as part of a series titled ‘Aristotle’s Mailbag’ in Young World, The Hindu, dt. April 1, 2013

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