Looking through Conventions

by Ven. Pajalo (Austria)

" . . . and there might be the truth in what the beggar is saying,
and none at all in what is said by the rich man or the man in authority."


We are educated and used to look into the world through the coloured curtain of labels and conventions. We are getting lost in the world by trying to blow up our ego beyond what we actually are by losing ourselves in what we have and what we think we are.

For years I have been living as a monk, without family, property, profession and without all the extreme sweet and bitter fruits, which ripen through the commmon life of common man. Yet I am happy that I had tasted enough of that. One gets tired to run after this mirrage made up by ourselves and emphasized by society.

There is an advantage to have experienced certain aspects of life beyond the common superficial ideas and opinions. The wealthy environment of my childhood shatterd the ideal that money equals happiness and freedom. Having grown up in the sceneries around "Sound of Music", it got clear to me that even the most beautiful environment can't beautify ones heart.The fact that my father is a doctor and that mother grew up in an aristocratic family, 'taught' me that none of that is at all a guarantee for a fulfilling life; and a closer look might even disacover the opposite; and I got to know many people, including my brother and sister, who have passed through universities, but at the same time they seem to have passed over the essence of life. Having had the freedom to travel extensively through Europe and America I realized that feeling at home is a matter of heart and not a place. Having lived a love relationship it became clear to me, that certain movies and books, in which we love to get lost, are stories too rare to become true in our own lives.

It's only experience and wisdom which can shatter these concepts of a 'happy', but false world.

Let's leave aside 'my' life and look around on this Island. What do we think about the businessman who is driving his Mercedes Benz to the A/C cooled office in the World Trade Center, where he has connection with the whole world. Compare him with the farmer riding his old bicycle to the paddy field, to work in the heat of the sun, far away from any world-news. Isn't there a chance that he has a deeper understanding of reality; that he is living more balanced, happier, humble and and wise than his 'fellow being' who is labeled as a 'V.I.P.'; might this simple man with his uncomplicated life not be the one who is living more satisfied in what he has, without being afraid in losing anything, including life itself; could he not be the one who realized the deeper meaning of the 'Art of Living', far beyond the extent of the 'important and big' man who is bounded by silver chains, kept in a golden cages and caught up in the city's rat race?

"Since we have been in the prison we got to know about life", once inmates of Bogambara jail, told me during one of my visits. I have a feeling that some of these so called 'criminals' are able to face life in a more honest way than many of us outside who are hiding the ego behind all their wealth, degrees and family status.

At such a place where there is no difference between a millionair and a beggar, where one has no 'name' only a number without any attached 'Dr.' or 'Prof.' and where everybody is treated the same, no matter if you are a scholar or if you can't even write your name, then there is a chance to let go of all the conventions, labels and pride which we are making up in our mind and which are seen in society as very importance. Only then will we be able to see life again through the eyes of an innocent child; only then will we realize that watching a golden sunset can be more precious than having a golden coin, that a smile from the heart can be more important than a complicated degree from the university and that the murmur of a clear spring can tell us more than empty words from an empty mind.

If we really want to learn about life and if we really want to grow up in this world, we have to be able to look straight down to the heart through all the conventions and compllications in ourselves and in those around us.