A Non Believer's Parable

Ah! what a divine religion might be found out if charity were really made the principle of it instead of faith. -Percy Bysshe Shelley, poet (1792-1822)

A non believer's parable.

I don't believe in past lives or afterlives; in rewards and retributions doled out by a magic man in the sky, or a universe inexplicably prearranged to take account of such things.

There's no reason to do good or be good just to fulfil any religious tenets, to claim rewards or escape punishments. The only reason to do good and be good is because it is the right way to live our lives.

As such it's important to set aside some of our time and resources to fulfil the needs of others, be they family, friends, strangers you will never meet, people less fortunate, our environment and its creatures. Why? No reason—not for self-fulfilment or to make ourselves feel better or to pry some sort of meaning out of our puny lives. No reason at all. Except that it is the right thing to do. We know it is. There need be no reason.

Here's my parable:

A monk dedicated his life to tending a garden at a monastery, a garden that teemed with all kinds of plant, insect and small animal life. One day, as he laboured in the garden, the Angel Gabriel appeared before him and said it was his time to go to heaven. "I'm busy," said the monk. "These flowers are about to bloom and the bees will come for the nectar. I need to properly water the flower beds." So the Angel left, to return another day. Years passed and each time the Angel appeared, the monk would say he was not ready, that the garden needed him. Finally one day, when the monk was old and weak and arthritic, he said to Gabriel, "you may take me now, I'm ready to go to heaven."

And Gabriel replied, "where do you think you've been all this time?"

From my lowly domain in a secondary city of a minor Asian country on this tiny third rock from an ordinary star at the edge of an unremarkable galaxy located in a nondescript part of a universe that's possibly just one of many universes, I want to strive to be like that monk. But without the gardening. I hate gardening.

Whatever your beliefs, may you tend to the garden of your choice, and do so for no reason at all.

Gaurang Thakkar