A Short Story by Kapal Dhir *
“How far are you away from your reflection in the mirror?” This query was raised by my friend Ramesh one evening when we were out for a stroll. Well, I must admit I was puzzled at what he meant, though I knew he always put questions that, in the first instance, always looked senseless. However, when I could scent the import of the question, I slowly remarked, “The distance between a person and his reflection in the mirror is double the distance between him and the mirror, because the reflection within the mirror will also be at the same distance inside the mirror. Hence these two distance double.”
Ramesh smiled, “Well, I wanted you to spiritualise your answer. And as we are talking of the distance, please comment if there does lie any distance between God and man.”
“Before I start”, I ventured, “I may tell you that any simile and metaphor used in a discussion are only one-sided. When you comment that any particular person is a tiger, it simply means that he is active nimble and brave. It does not mean that he eats the flesh of other animals, as does a tiger.
“Now I come back to your question. Sometimes, one talks of a distance between man and God in the same way as is done in case of any two objects lying separate from each other. But the simile does not fit here. In the former case, the distance can not be measured in terms of meters and yards as can be done in the latter. The distance between man and God is only imaginary. God is as much away from or near to us as we think. He is said to be the Nearest of the near and Farthest of the far. Man feels himself away from Him only in terms of imagination born out of ignorance, and not distance. Now ignorance and distance are not synonymous. Similarly He is the Dearest of the dear.”
“Well, I don’t agree. If I happen to think He is with me, will He manifest Himself to me as does any friend of mine, whom I call for dinner?” was Ramesh’s reply who at least was honestly expressing his feelings. I always appreciated Ramesh for his straight-forwardness as he never minced words in any discussion. His child-like approach was his biggest asset.
“Tell me, Ramesh, until now, you had been believing in your mind, that there does exist a distance between God and you. Can you now sincerely and firmly believe yourself to be in His immediate proximity, in contrast to the distance imagined by you earlier?”
“Well, I am confused,” admitted Ramesh.
“Confusion is the first step of the ladder to climb to clarity. The analysis of any new idea, when honestly done, leads to perfect understanding. Dive deep into your confusion and find the pearl of clarity. We will discuss this issue again some day.”
My next rendezvous with Ramesh was at a wedding party of a son of our common friend.
The marriage hall was exceptionally well decorated, with colourful lights and chandeliers. The seating arrangement was superb. All guests entering the hall were virtually thrilled with the nice set-up there. And for the wedding couple- well that seemed to be a perfect match. The bride’s natural beauty and the groom’s personality and their matching dresses were simply majestic and every one was admiring that the couple have been made for each other. Thus the couple and the ambience around them were just mutually complementary.
My friend Ramesh was all praise for the arrangement and wondered how much money may have been spent and pain undertaken to create that atmosphere. I took a clue from Ramesh’s remarks and reopened my subject on the reflection in the mirror as we had discussed in our earlier meeting. “ Well, Ramesh! with so nice an arrangement over here and the happiness that is quite apparent on the faces of the parents of the bride and the groom, how much do you think, the parents love their children?”
“Immense”, was Ramesh’s reply that came forth spontaneously.
“Well please tell me the depth of that love in terms of distance or weightage or any other measurement.” I smiled.
“Are you crazy?” anger was writ large on Ramesh’s brow. “Love is a measureless feeling. Its depth can only be felt- it can not even by expressed in words”
I began slowly, “Anyway, love between human beings- say parents and children or among friends -can sometimes be marred by selfish motives. Parents expect their children to remain respectful to them and friendship these days walks on the crutches of mutual interests. Any disturbance in these balances disrupts the relationship, because we are all human beings.”
“I agree” was Ramesh’s reply.
“But just visualize that there is a parent who loves his child despite the latter’s shortcomings and even then he always expects his wandering child to come back to receive all the love at the parent’s home. That parent is never tired of waiting for his child to come and claim his heritage.
“You may consider that finding such a parent is a distant possibility. Yes, you may be right. But I want you to understand that the One who is the Nearest of the near and the Dearest of the dear, whom I was talking about the other day, is the One always waiting for His prodigal sons to come back despite all their shortcomings. Now suppose these sons also start loving their Father in the same selfless spirit – wanting ‘Him’ only and not wanting ‘from Him’-, then there will be a paradise on this very earth. In that case, you would not ask the question about distance between a person and his reflection in the mirror.”
“You will then find that mirrors should not be the medium to get reflection. You are the reflection of your self. There exists no mirror or any intermediary to tell you that you are one with God. Then where lies the distance or any measurement? In fact many of our questions are just imaginary, and we try to find answers to them again in imagination and are thus drifted away from reality.”
Peace was quite visible on the face of Ramesh now. He finally uttered, “Yes, God loves us immensely and selflessly and in fact no distance lies between Him and us. We imagine the distance only when we fail to fathom the one-ness due to our selfish approach. It is only an imaginary conflict of interests that makes us feel we are away from Him. In reality there exists no distance”