The young man viewed the river with apprehension. It seemed to be an insurmountable problem since he intended to cross over to the other side, though with neither a human in sight nor a boat to ferry him across.
Is swimming the only option? he wondered. He wasn’t sure his limited swimming skills would be of much help. Dejected at the bleak prospect, he sat down by the riverside, waiting for assistance from a passerby or a boat appearing down the river.
However, nothing much changed for hours. When he was getting exasperated, he spotted a monk on the other side of the river. The sight elated him. He had spotted a human after a long time. Two, the monk seemed to be endowed with a calmness only seasoned spiritual seekers possessed. Agreed, he was on the other side, but the young man was sure the monk would provide an answer.
Waving at the monk evoked a similar response from the other side. It pleased the young man. He smiled, folded his hands in reverence, and asked, ‘I wonder if you can tell me how I could reach the other side.’
‘You are on the other side, young man,’ the monk replied.
The answer left the young man baffled, as it must have done to us. However, in an answer that seems to be a prank lies a bewildering truth of life, almost an absurdity. Being on the other side is a strange paradox.
The parable can have two contrary interpretations. One is that on the spiritual quest, we’re still standing on the ‘other side’. The side we’re on is the other one, and we need to cross over. However, there’s a flip side to this story. There’s no ‘other side’—nowhere else to go. The place one stands is where one ought to be. Only we need to realise it. Reaching the other side is simply knowing the truth. Frankly, the concept of the other side is a deception our mind plays on us. The idea is to be aware of the truth, right here, right now!
Rajessh M. Iyer is a storyteller who explores human relationships through meaningful anecdotes, parables, and stories; he shares his work on www.rajesshmiyer.com.