The New Disciple

Stories and Allegories


THE NEW DISCIPLE


  A new disciple who joined the group did not seem to have the usual set of virtues and vices. He somehow managed to be both arrogant and cringing, over-blunt and hypocritical, lazy and yet fussy over trivialities, timid and then suddenly reckless.

  The chief disciple remarked to the Guru, "I don't know how we are going to make anything out of him."

  That evening the Guru was taking his evening walk with the chief disciple and two others. They returned by way of the house of a famous university teacher known for his aggressiveness and irascibility, and who was also a heavy drinker. He had just published a book on some intricate points in the philosophy of Chandrakirti. The teacher, as usual in the summer, had his bed on the veranda. He was asleep, breathing heavily, but muttering in his dreams. "Listen," said the Guru softly, "what is he saying?" They held their breath and listened, but it was only disjointed words and nonsensical phrases, mixed up with the name Chandrakirti and some technical philosophical terms.

  "Why," said the Guru to the chief disciple, "he is talking absolute nonsense. You could easily expose his errors - you were saying the other day that you doubted that he was always right."

  Then he called loudly, "Professor, professor! My disciple here wants to debate with you on Chandrakirti."

  The teacher rolled over and sat up unsteadily, feeling for his slippers. "What's that? . . . I'll debate him!" and he shouted for some coffee to the sleeping household. But the disciple had fled.

  Next day the Guru said to him, "You didn't wait for the teacher, though he was talking quite idiotically, because you knew that within him was the famous scholar, just overshadowed for the moment. You weren't simple-minded enough to think that those ravings of his were his real nature. What you said about the new disciple was too simple-minded. When he sits down to meditate, there is a god in full splendour meditating there. His problem is to realize it, and we shall help him to do that. It is not a question of making anything out of him."

An Indian Tale