The meeting was being held after a hundred years. The participants were called to meet in the middle of a thick forest which was all shades of verdant green and many layers of life. Large trees that had the wisdom of many decades written over them, young bushes that sprang from the earth in the recent rains, colorful flowers that paled an artist’s palette, and feathered wings that flirted with the winter morning sunshine.
A clearing in the forest held a large table and eight chairs. The table was carved in the shape of the mathematical infinity symbol, the shape of the sideways ‘8’ figure. It was a design marvel with the optical illusion of a continuous loop.
Asha, Shanti, and Khushi were at the table, having come in early. Karma and Mukti had just come in and were settling into their chairs. There were 3 more chairs that were waiting to be taken. Dharma was yet to come in. Sometimes he was late, so that wasn’t a surprise.
The participants of the meeting were feelings and concepts breathed into an embodiment. They were the creations of human beings and an interface to how people lived their lives. They had different names in different parts of the world but were revered or feared alike.
There was an easy banter on the table as they were waiting for Kaal. Kaal had an uncanny sense of timing. She was on time, never late or early. Yes, Time is a woman. A grand woman with a floating manifestation. Many did not understand where her presence started and where it ended, so it was easy to ignore her as Kaal. That’s why she preferred to be called Samaya which gave her a more compelling presence in the “now”.
Samaya presided over these meetings and kept the discussions focused. “Shall we start?”, Samaya said as she appeared at the table. The attendees at the meeting revered her; she was wise and knew everything. Though people outside the forest called her cruel at times, she was also kind. If you were old enough or unfortunate enough to lose the ones you love, you would know that there is no healer like time.
“Dharma is not here yet”, Khushi pointed out. “Shall we wait a while? And we have an extra chair. Who’s joining us?”
“We have a guest at this meeting who will be joining us shortly. Ah, there he is…” Samaya paused as Vivek sprinted to the table. “Hiya”, Vivek said by way of greeting those at the table.
“All we have is a few minutes, so let’s start. Dharma can catch up” Samaya said categorically. Indeed, they were all busy ‘beings’ and had to be elsewhere shortly. They had to report a 100 years of their work so it was going to be a brief but intense meeting.
“What have you?” Samaya asked in a rather matter-of-fact fashion looking around the table.
Khushi started. She was light and lightness in equal measure. “Everyone aspires for happiness. It’s taking a long time for people to realize that happiness is not in buying, but in the doing. ‘Things’ do not make you brim with abundance – ‘things’ don’t fill the emptiness.”
A peaceful Shanti said “I am amused to report that I have become a prize. The Peace Prize. How cool is that! Do you have that, Khushi? A Happiness Prize?”
Khushi understood Shanti’s dovish preening was playful. She smiled and continued, “You see, people aspire for me and then don’t recognize me. They feel my absence more than my presence.”
Shanti interrupted again, “True, look at the conflicts, war zones, and refugee centers. How does one find happiness or well being when there is no peace? People talk about me in conferences, meetings, and prayer halls. I have a feeling that Peace is becoming more isolated, more of an abstract concept than reality. I am more of a ‘hope’.”
A sincere faced Asha looked around saying, “Hope keeps the world ticking. I am still the reason people wake up in the morning. However, there is a dissonance in what people are aspiring for and what they are doing.”
Dharma came along trudging in slowly and heavily, leaning on his wooden staff. He waved his staff to the gathering by way of greeting and helped himself into the one empty chair. “Better late than never”, Karma mocked a welcome. Dharma shrugged, “You are not even relevant anymore to people”, he growled at Karma and turned to Samaya, asking “Why is he even invited to this meeting?”
“I am here because I am Karma. What you sow, so shall you reap” Karma replied.
Silent until then, Mukti turned to Karma saying, “Not true, Karma. Have you checked on the farmers lately? Where is the truth in what you just said?”
“What have you, Mukti?” Samaya asked Mukti.
“A very simple yet vexing conundrum: People are seeking freedom, while they still tie themselves up in wants.”
Pounding his wooden staff on the floor, Dharma broke in, “Listen folks, that is perhaps the nature of human beings. But whatever they are doing is not working. We need to help them do something different.” Dharma’s weariness seemed to be reflecting in his disorderly salt and pepper hair.
Dharma continued, “It is not just individuals driven by greed, look at the institutions: where are the governments that work for their citizens? The governments largely work for the administrators. The land is not meant for the farmers but for the middlemen. The schools are run for the promoters, hospitals for the doctors, and banks for the bankers. The citizens, farmers, students, patients, the common people are missing from the big picture.”
“I agree. We need you to more meaningfully engage with people, Vivek” Samaya said turning to Vivek.
“Pay attention, Vivek – we are running out of time.”
“Running out of time? Funny you should say that, Samaya!”
“Ha ha, wise guy!” Samaya played along.
“And what’s with your fancy name, ‘Samaya’? ‘Kaal’ not working for you?”
Samaya was amused at his barbs. A very bright young man, Vivek was demanding in intellect from everyone. Those who failed to measure up to his standards were deprived of his respect and attention. But he was always present where there was a modicum of rational discussion. Conversations with him were deep, funny, and acerbic. Noticing some reluctance in Vivek, she prodded, “Don’t hold back, say it.”
Vivek did not need the permission as he was in an exceptionally belligerent mood today. “These people that we are talking about – aren’t they very intelligent people? They have survived through the ages and yet they are more lost than ever. They have their earth and they have each other. And yet, they want more. The greed, the quest for power and money, even the planet next door, the endless consumption… How do you expect me to get past these? They don’t pray for me. They pray for you – they crave for more time, more happiness, more peace, and yet at the end they pray for Mukti – a release from all these. Where is the meaning in this? Asha is right, they act in complete dissonance with what they seek. And now, I have to do something for them? Why? Do these people deserve any pity or sentimentality? Such dumb assholes!”
“Language, Vivek!” Samaya chided.
“Sorry Samaya, got carried away. You know I speak my mind. And there are some situations that don’t invoke an ounce of sympathy in me.”
“And yet, you can uplift and strengthen the moral fiber of humanity” Samaya said softly.
“Oh, that’s all? How simple and humdrum!” Vivek’s words were dripping with sarcasm. “I’ll get to it as soon as I finish writing my treatise on The Impact of Immortality on the Space-Time Continuum.”
“Vivek, be practical. You can do all the reading in your vast libraries and writing the elaborate treatises on logic, knowledge, and wisdom and whatever else occupies your vivid intellect. But when it is time, you also need to respond to a call from your creators.”
“Our creators…” Vivek repeated as if on cue.
Yes indeed, all of them with the exception of Samaya, were created by the people. Their thoughts, ideas, and notions over the ages turned the abstract concepts of hope, happiness, peace, salvation, justice, destiny, and wisdom into exquisite beings that had the power to guide the very people that created them. Time always existed as a speculative dimension. Humanity just learned how to measure time.
“These are the people who wonderfully advanced their civilization in the last few millennia of existence. Every now and then they have come close to ruin and yet survived. How’s this time any different?”
“You are right, Vivek. The human spirit always soared above suffering and destruction. It sang about the gift of life and the unfairness of life. About love and despair. That big picture is now lost because the humanity is living out their lives in binary settings – all or nothing, now or never, you or me and so on. A humanity that surmounted improbable difficulties is now at a cross roads. They need to know it is possible to live fully and yet reasonably. It’s possible to be prosperous and reasonable. There is a need to reintroduce reason, judgement, and conscience. Let me just say this: act out of empathy and in a hurry.” Samaya said softy.
Each of them at the table considered Samaya’s words deeply. All of them except Samaya would exist as long as people live. Not that these seven beings cared much for their own survival or identity, but they are invested in making humanity successful.
“We need a light to shine through the thick fog of greed and narcissism. Nourish the sea of humanity with the power of thinking and acting for continuance and perpetuity” Samaya continued.
“It’s not going to be easy but I suppose we can do it together. It’s not going to be easy on the people, but they can get through together. I’ll share some thoughts with you shortly.” There was a mild but growing enthusiasm in Vivek.
“Great” Samaya said, visibly relieved.
“When do we meet again? In a hundred years?” Mukti asked.
“May be sooner, if we need to. That depends on Vivek, though.” Samaya said smiling at Vivek. “Thank you all for being here, let’s stay connected through our channels.” Samaya said as she dismissed the meeting.
Samaya looked fondly around the thick forest. The trees were standing guard as witnesses to this conversation. Their leaves and flowers were shimmering like jades and rubies. She saw Vivek observing the butterflies fluttering like flying rainbows. Butterflies! Samaya knew that the butterflies were powerful catalysts and could create a sequence of events in a ripple effect. Samaya wondered which one he was going to pick to set his plan in motion.