The Teacher sat quietly next to the pond. The water was clear once again, after the erosion from the garden had been stopped by rebuilding the low rock wall around the pond. It had been a tiresome job rebuilding the wall with rocks. There was noone else who was interested so he had to do the heavy lifting himself. It had been worth it he decided, before he berated himself for again allowing his mind to wander to the past. Though he felt good at his accomplishment, he was aware that the feeling of “good”ness had a cause and was not his own creation. He had drifted into the past again. He smiled as he embraced his humanity once again. The masters were right, it would take a life time.
The student arrived, dressed in suit and tie as if he had just walked out of the office. His feet were bare, shoes are not allowed in the teacher’s house. The student had first come to the teacher a month ago. A friend of a previous student. The previous student had stopped coming a little after he got what he wanted. The teacher would have been happier if he had got what there was to get. A tinge of melancholy passed through his mind, the teacher embraced it again and it vanished.
“I am sorry I am late” the student said as was his habit every week.
“as am I” said the teacher smiling.
The student stopped himself just as he was about to continue. He looked puzzled a bit.
“I have never really understood what you say everytime I say that” he said
“Did you say ‘as am I’?” he asked.
The teacher smiled
“You are becoming present, that is good” Said the Teacher.
“I said ‘as am I'” the teacher explained.
“I still didnt get it” said the student feeling foolish.
“You said you are sorry that you are late” explained the teacher grinning “and I said ‘as am I'”.
“why should you be sorry that I am late?”asked the student after thinking about it a bit.
“Exactly!” exulted the Teacher “that implies that I should not be sorry at all”.
“uh huh” nodded the student slowly, completely confused.
“Now !, I asserted ‘as am I’ that means my ‘sorryness’ is the same as your sorryness” said the Teacher as he laughed out loud.
“Which is not really sorry at all” said the student sullenly as the reality hit him.
“You should celebrate, not be sad” laughed the teacher “You have moved closer to reality, now you can be really sorry”.
The student laughed.
The tea came and they both drank the tea in silence. There was never any discussion over tea. The student had tried many a time to start a conversation over tea, but all he got was silence. Strangely he never felt snubbed by it. It was as if he knew that the teacher was somewhere else.
The teacher placed his teacup slowly on the saucer. The student did the same although he had not finished, his head was buzzing with questions and the tea was not his top priority.
“Did you enjoy tea today?” Asked the teacher.
“Yes very much” said the student, eager to launch into his questions.
The teacher nodded. This was the sign that the student could ask his questions.
“You said ‘I had become closer to reality’, but aren’t we always in reality? I mean we are completely surrounded by it” asked the student.
“Yes, but the question is, are YOU in it?” asked the teacher.
“I didn’t follow” said the student lost “can you explain”.
“You had tea correct?” asked the teacher
“Now the question ‘did YOU have tea’ seems meaningless” continued the teacher.”But I assert that YOU didn’t have the tea, just like YOU are not in reality, you also didn’t have tea”.
“I don’t follow” the student said finally after futilely trying to reorganize the statement in his head to make more sense.
“Let me ask you a few questions” continued the teacher “Did you enjoy the tea?”
“Yes I did” said the student impatiently “but how is that related to Reality?”
“What did you like about the tea?” asked the teacher staring down the student.
“Its tea, its nice” said the student “what more can I say”.
“Exactly!” said the Teacher excitedly, like a hunter finally seeing his quarry. “The tea is nice because it should be!”
“uh huh….” said the student having a sinking feeling that the rug was about to be pulled from under his feet again.
“The tea is nice not because you tasted it and enjoyed its flavor, but because its tea so it should be nice” said the Teacher picking up his walking stick.
“So I assert that your body had the tea, but YOU were elsewhere” said the teacher prodding the student with a flourish.
“yes you are right, I didn’t really taste the tea, it wasn’t terrible so I said it was nice, its kind of my mechanical answer to your question, so that I could get onto my agenda” said the student smiling.
The teacher narrowed his eyes and stared at the student for a bit, as if there was a bit of tea left in the students beard.
“What this means? mechanical?” he asked finally.
“Well it means automatic” replied the student.
“Exactly” said the teacher “your whole life is run by automatic, sometimes you wake up and do something but mostly automatic, you are elsewhere”
“So” continued the teacher making a circling gesture in the air with his stick “I assert, reality is around you, but YOU are elsewhere, maybe elsewhere not good word, asleep is better”.