Parable about Conscience

«This story took place in very ancient times. The Conscience was born in this world. She was born in the silence of the night when all living beings think. The river thinks shining in the moon light, the star-spangled sky thinks, the blade of grass thinks standing motionless in the night darkness. The chrysalis thinks with which pattern it should create a butter-fly. The plants think about their beautiful blossoms, the birds think about songs and the stars think about the future. That is why it is so quiet at night. In the daytime everything makes a noise and lives, while at night everything is silent and thinks. At such a quiet night, when every living being was thinking, the Conscience was born. She was beautiful. The light of distant stars was reflected in the depth of her big beautiful eyes. The moon light covered her face with its shine. Which the night wrapped up in its mysterious clouds.

 “Once the Conscience went to people. She lived among them half well half bad. So she lived as a night bird. Since in the daylight nobody even wanted to talk to her. Whoever she comes to, everybody waves her away as if saying, ‘I have so many things to do, the work is in full swing, I don’t have time to talk to you!’ However at night she entered freely both rich and poor houses. She touched easily the sleeper and he woke up. Having seen her he asked, ‘What do you need, Conscience?’

“And she replied softly, ‘What have you done today?’

‘Me? Nothing special…’

‘Just recall it.’

‘Well… Perhaps only…’

“And when he was recalling, the Consciece went to another man. And the awaken man couldn’t fall asleep till the morning and went on thinking over what he has been doing in the daylight. And many things he didn’t want to hear in the daylight were echoed during the night silence. Thus the Conscience came to everybody untill all people began to suffer from insomnia.

“So people decided to ask for advice the wisest man of their province, Li Khan Tsu, whether he knew a remedy against insomnia. People called Li Khan Tsu as the wisest man because they thought that if he had more money than the others, more lands than the others, more houses than the others, so he should have infinite wisdom! But they didn’t know that the man they called as the ‘wisest’ suffered more than the others from this disease and didn’t know how to get rid of it. Since all people around him owed to him something. And these people were busy all their life with working off their debts to him. In this way wise Li Khan Tsu arranged his life. As a wise man he knew for example what he should do if one of the debtors stole something from him and was caught. Wise Li Khan Tsu beat him so heartily to teach the others not to do it again. In the daylight he did it in a very wise way because the others were afraid of him when they saw this punishment. But at night Li Khan Tsu feared himself for his life and for his fortune. And that is why at night he had completely different thoughts than in the daylight, ‘Why does a poor man steal? Because he has nothing to eat and he has not time to earn money for food. Since he works off his debt to me all his day long.’ Li Khan Tsu even argued with the Conscience justifying his deeds, ‘It means that I’m robbed and I’m wrong at the same time?!’ However though he justified himself he couldn’t fall asleep anyway. So once all these sleepless nights made Li Khan Tsu to declare despite all his wisdom, ‘I will give them back all their money, all their lands, all their houses!’

“But the relatives of wise Li Khan Tsu heard it and raised a terrible clamour and set up a howl shouting to people ‘It’s all these sleepless nights made the wise man mad! It’s Conscience, it’s all ‘her’ fault!’

“The richmen got frightened, ‘If the wisest man became mad, what will happen with us?’

“The poor people got frightened, ’We have lest of all, therefore we have less wisdom. If the wisest man gets mad what will happen with our minds?’

“The richmen saw the fear of the poor people and took council among themselves, ‘You see how the Conscience scared the poor people. We have to protect them from the Conscience and to get rid of her!’

And they began to think how to arrange this matter but couldn’t invent anything. So they decided to send ambassadors to the wisest in all China A Pu O who lived in Nankin at that time. He was so wise and smart that rulers from all China came to ask for his advice. So they sent ambassadors to him. They brought generous gifts to him, bowed low many times, stated their problem and asked to help to get rid of insomnia which is caused by the Conscience. A Pu O listened to them about this ‘national disaster’, smiled and said, ‘Well, it’s possible to do so that the Conscience will not have even the right to come to you! How can the uneducated man know what he should do and what not? Let’s invent the laws. We will write in rolls what a human should do and what not. Mandarins will study the laws by heart. And the others would ask them what they can do and what they can’t do. But first of course they should pay to them: mandarins should not stuff their minds with laws for nothing! So when the Conscience comes and asks the uneducated man ‘What have you done today?’ he would reply ‘I have done what I should do, what is written in rolls’. And everybody would sleep calmly.’

“All people were glad about this solution. And mandarins most of all. Since it’s much easier to delve into books signs than to cultivate the land. The others also were rejoiced over it. Since it was better for them to pay to a mandarin and to talk to him for a minute during the day than to talk heart-to heart with the Consience at night. So they started to write the laws what a human should do and what not. And they have written them, and appointed wise A Pu O as the highest mandarin for this valuable advice so that he would help to clever people to live peacefully without the Conscience.

“So people began to live according to the laws of mandarins and highest A Pu O. If they needed to do something or argue about something, they went to a mandarin and asked after they paid generously for his answer, ‘Unroll your scrolls. Who of us is right according to them?’

“Now only the poorest people suffered from insomnia since they didn’t have to pay to a mandarin for an advice. And the others used to say when the Conscience came to them at night, ‘Why do you bother me?! I acted according the laws! As it is written in the scrolls! It wasn’t my choice!’

“They turned away from her to another side and fell asleep.

“Even wisest Li Khan Tsu who suffered most of all from insomnia just chuckled when the Conscience visited him at night, ‘Hello, my dear! What will say now?’

“And the Conscience told him looking at him with her eyes, with sparkling stars in them, ‘Why, you wanted to give back your property to the poor but you don’t do it?’

“’Do I have a right for that?!’ Li Khan Tsu sneered at her. ‘What is written in the scrolls? The property of each man belongs to him and to his offsprings. How can I squander the property of others if my offsprings don’t agree with that? It means that I am a thief since I steal from them, or a mad man since I rob myself. But it is written in the law, A thief and a mad man should be chained up. So leave me in peace. Moreover I would advise you to go to the bed and not to idle about!’

“He turned with a back to her and fall asleep.

“So everywhere where the Conscience came she heard one and the same, ‘How can we know?! We do what the mandarins tell us. Go and ask them! We act according the law.’

“The Conscience went to the mandarins and asked them, ‘Why nobody wants to listen to me?’

“But they laughed in reply, ‘Why should people listen to you and act as you advise? We have the laws for that. It’s written everything here on the yellow paper! It’s a great thing! Not without reason A Pu O was appointed as the highest mandarin for inventing them.’

“So the Conscience went to the highest mandarin, the wisest in all China A Pu O. She touched him slightly. A Pu O woke up, jumped up, saw the Conscience and shouted in his fright, ‘How dare you to show up in my house without permission? What is written in the law? The one who shows up in the night secretly in strange house, will be regarded as a thief and will be imprisoned!’

“’But I didn’t come to rob you!’ she replied. ‘I am Conscience!’

“’According to the law you are a lecherous woman! It’s stated there clearly, If a woman comes in the night to a strange man, she is regarded as a lecherous woman and will be imprisoned! It means that if you are not a thief, you are a debauchee!’

“‘How can I be a debauchee?!’ She was surprised. ‘I am Conscience!’

“But A Pu O was even more beside himself with rage, ‘Well, you mean you are not a debauchee nor a thief, you just don’t want to comply with the laws? There is also a law for this case, The one who doesn’t want to comply with the laws will be regarded as a lawless person and will be imprisoned. Hey, servants! Put this woman in the stocks and throw her in jail for ever as a debauchee suspected in theft and non-complying with the laws.’

Servants of A Pu O caught the Conscience, put her in the stocks and imprisoned. Since that time she doesn’t come to anybody and doesn’t bother anybody. So all people even forgot about her. Just seldom when a man who is dissatisfied with the mandarins cries out, ‘You have no conscience!’ they show him immediately a paper that the Conscience is imprisoned and reply to him, ‘Of cource, we have if we locked her up!’

“And a man falls silent, looks at the mandarin’s paper with full of ink characters and realizes that they are right indeed! So people live since that time without the Conscience according to the laws of mandarins and highest A Pu O. Whether they live good or bad, everybody decided for himself when the night falls and all living being begin to think.”».

Extracts from the book by Anastasia Novykh «Sensei of Shambala», Book IV.

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