The Elephant

17 Jul

He was born on a night with a big snowball of a moon. Luminous. Whether he sprang from the Lotus flower or the loins of the White Elephant that entered the Queen’s room – neither matters. People are wont to ascribe divinity to conception everywhere and in various contexts and so it was with him. What matters though is that he was born a man like all the rest. Yet, unlike all the rest he would be sheltered and know no struggle. His father was the head of a warrior clan and Siddhartha would lay siege to only the comforts and delights of the royal grounds at Lumbini. His father did name him Siddhartha, but not right away. The name was not given for at least 5 days or more. Was this indecision on his father’s part? Or merely the same contemplative nature that Siddhartha would himself come to know? He grew into a prince and it was expected he would take his place alongside his father and continue the Gautama line. But, then that fateful day happened. He had already married and had a son when it did. Something lacked – although he knew not what, nor was he seeking some greater understanding. Some people today may get to the point in their lives when they realize it’s not the big love that they are meant to find, but more that person or thing which makes them simply strive to be better, to work harder, to reach farther into themselves and their lots. A catalyst that leads to purpose and possibly happiness. Siddhartha didn’t reflect on such things. He didn’t need a muse, a religion, or philosophy. He was complete within the walls he lived. He had all the pleasures of the body and mind that any man would ever need — and more. Nevertheless, he sought to venture outside the walls of the palace that day and it could have been just a frivolity. A princely gallivant. His father though was not so glib about this. He had known about his son’s trip outside the palace and had ordered his men to sweep away any unseemly and undesirable sights from the road and the perimeter outside the palace. Siddhartha came out of the main gate and was met with the familiar tidy smiles on the faces of his subjects and took in the clean sweet-smelling odors permeating from the surrounding vendor stalls. He continued down the road completely unaware of the staged scene before him. Out of the corner of one of his eyes he noticed something. He stopped and walked over. Incomprehensible. He was seeing something not smooth, tight, flush, or angular. How could he know the opposite of such things when he had never seen or experienced them? “Crooked”, “frail”, “bent”. These words had never passed his lips. His long dormant instincts may have flickered for an instant and there may have been a faint recognition of what this was. But, he could only stare. They say he was 29 when it first hit.

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