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Stranded on a steep hillside dhaba sipping cup after cup of tea wasn’t supposed to be in the itinerary of Rajesh. Rajesh a travel writer for a leading lifestyle magazine had been on a visit to the Buddhist town of Tawang for his review of tourist places in northeastern part of India. Their bus was stranded for about three hours due to a sudden landslide. The army and local people were clearing the debris and the road wasn’t supposed to be clear till tomorrow morning. He and some of the fellow passengers took rooms in a nearby guesthouse whose name was too exotic to pronounce. Rajesh was so engrossed thinking about his work and awed and mesmerized by the steep hills and lush forests that he didn’t care who his fellow passengers were in the bus. Now since the road was blocked for the night he had all the time to notice his fellow bus boarders and also the natives of the hills.

He observed that the people boarding the bus could be mainly divided into three groups- hippy tourists, monks and some locals who had some business to attend to. Rajesh never liked hippies, the locals and the monks seemed nice but he didn’t understand their language nor could they or so he thought. Besides he was not in any mood to engage in sign language histrionics. So he sat in a corner sipping tea and reading the latest issue of the magazine he worked in, which he had packed in his travel bag. The hills made him both happy and sad. The hills were beautiful, steep and majestic but they also were devoid of enough human interaction that although, he seemed to dislike when he was in the city, now he missed here in amidst the hills.

Soon a monk came and asked ” its hotter here than in Tawang, isnt it?” Rajesh was a little surprised that the monk seemed to speak in a common understandable tongue. The monk looked about 40 yrs. old had a radiant pair of eyes and his smile was mysterious to say the least. “Ya, but I am more attuned to a little heat than the harsh cold in uphill.” And thus started their conversation. They enquired about their purpose of visit to Tawang, discussed about the weather, places they had been to around the world. The monk abruptly asked Rajesh “what is that is troubling you my son?” Rajesh was a little taken back by this sudden question and hesitantly replied “no I am not troubled sir. “The monk then gazed straight into the eyes of Rajesh and he was forced to concede that yes he indeed was troubled. Rajesh was troubled by the constant stress of his work. Lately due to stiff competition from his contemporaries he was losing face in the eyes of his employer. Although he did write articles which seemed good to him the editors were not much pleased with his work. He always longed for the approval of his editors and he was quite distraught now for not getting enough of it. However Rajesh was not demoted from his position nor was there any risk of losing his job, infact he earned better now than before. But he still wanted something to happen and yet he did not know what it was. So he grasped the first opportunity for a trip to Tawang thinking it would soothe his mind but contrary to his expectations it did not help much.   

Listening to the plight of Rajesh the monk first smiled dispassionately and then said, “Believe in Karma and you will be fine. And…” Rajesh interrupted, “how can I believe that my present condition is a result of my past life sins. I would respectfully decline to do so.” The monk explained, ” I m not asking you to believe in your Karma of previous life. All I m asking you to do is to believe in the Karma of your present life. Believe that you will get what you truly deserve. Your work will reap you the benefits you need. Do not be attached to the results of your actions. Do your work and leave the rest to a higher entity. What goes around eventually comes around. Do not get into some work expecting to get something in return, because it is expectation that hurts the human soul the most. Unfulfilled expectations are the cause of sorrow. If you can free yourself of expectation you will attain nirvana, but I understand it is not possible for people like you, to be devoid of any expectations entirely. But try to have minimal expectations and dont be attached to the results of your work.”

Rajesh listened like a child to all this and somehow a big clout cleared in his head and peace seemed to finally reside in his mind. The monk and Rajesh parted ways for the night and after so many days Rajesh slept like a child. Next day when he woke up the debris were cleared and he wanted to talk again with the monk. But the monk was nowhere to be seen. He enquired about the monk to others and he did meet some monks but none fitted his description of the monk he saw yesterday. He thought maybe he had wandered to some nearby monastery. Before restarting on his bus journey he thought it would be apt to go visit a nearby monastery so that there are no further roadblocks on his journey home. But he was shocked to see in the monastery the picture of the monk he had met. The name was written in possibly Tibetan script but below it was written (1968-2012). He was shocked and doubts started to arise in his mind whether that was a ghost of the monk . But he remembered the monk or the ghost of the monk or whatever it was had delivered to him. He decided that the purpose of his visit to Tawang is now fulfilled. He accepted that it was perhaps divine intervention that sought to deliver him the message of Karma and to which he must adhere to. He then left the monastery and boarded the bus on his way to home.    

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