Companions in Solitude-3: Entrance into the deeps of the Himalayas - IIFog began to fade. It was about 8 ’0’ clock in the morning. Direct sunlight started spreading. Dense part of the forest was also left behind. People grazing the sheep and goats were seen ahead. We heaved a sigh of relief. With the feeling of great relief, having come out of the danger, we sat down to take rest. By now the porter also arrived. Seeing us all frightened he enquired of the reason. The companion said, "God saved us from the bears you had shown us. But you simply deceived us. Instead of telling us what to do you hid yourself in safety."
The porter stood bewildered. He sensed that there was some misunderstanding. When told about the Bhalu (Bear) he had indicated, he got the point which caused the confusion. He explained, "The Aloo (potato) grown in the village ’Jhala’ are famous for its big size. Such crop is not grown in any of the villages here. This is what I had told you by sign of fingers. When I told of ’Aloo of Jhala’ you heard it as Bhalu (bear). The black animals you saw are the black cows that graze here all the day. Due to the fog, they appeared to you like bears. There are no bears in this region. They are found on the higher mountains. I stayed behind for easing beside the stream. Else I would have been with you and there would have been no confusion. "
We laughed at our folly and were ashamed as well. We blamed and ridiculed the fellow-pilgrim who heard the porter wrong. Fear was transformed into humor. We kept chatting about it the whole day. Recalling what everyone said or did in the state of fear, there went on mutual teasing throughout the day. Everyone was keen to prove that others were more frightened. The journey passed joyfully. The subject became a good entertainer.
The imaginary existence of the bears which had become a reality and question of life and death for us an hour earlier, eventually turned out to be a mere phantom.
It made me think that there are many ghostly phantoms rooted in our life, due to which we remain constantly under unfounded fears of family, neighbors and society. Under the false notion that we will be looked upon as poor and ordinary fellows, if we do not indulge in pomp and show, many of us incur heavy expenditures beyond our means. It is appropriate to be conscious of public opinion when the question of morality and character arises, but not with regard to being forced by fear of social stigma to incur exorbitant expenses on social functions, marriages, post-death rites, etc. We must stand up firmly against such phantom fears.
With all kinds of worries, troubles, dilemmas, provocations, desires and ill will staring at us from all sides, the world appears to be terribly evil and frightening. Everything here appears frightful like the bear. But when the light of the knowledge of Self dawns, when the fog of ignorance fades away, when mental weakness diminishes, we realize the folly of having assumed the cows to be bears. When the light of true knowledge dawns, we realize that those whom we thought to be enemies are in fact reflections of our inner states of deluded minds; basically all are sparks of the Spirit. If God is flawless, his creations too must be intrinsically auspicious and benevolent. It is like imagining a frightful "Bhalu" out of a nourishing "Aloo".