The Lightning Bolt
I came across this tale many years ago. At that time I thought that it was just a silly joke. Later I realized that there was a moral lesson to be learnt on the hypocrisy of the many facets of our everyday life.
I have heard …
An old bus which had seen better days was rolling sluggishly along a sandy hilly terrain punctuated by some sparse vegetation scrubs and some lone standing trees. Inside the bus, a priest was leading his flock of 49 disciples, including the driver of the bus, for a pilgrimage to a sacred mountain to do prayers and offerings to the Lord.
Dusk was falling fast and the sky was overcast with heavy clouds. Occasionally a flash of lightning was seen at the distant horizon followed by the rumbling of thunder. It was going to be another night of bad weather riding for the passengers.
As the bus rolled along, a drizzle of rain enveloped it. Thunder bolts of lightning struck around the vicinity of the bus and the frequency and the intensity of it increased as the bus rumbled along. The priest then led his 49 passengers in fervent prayers to their Lord for deliverance that they had a safe passage through.
Finally with a sudden flash of inspiration, the priest addressed his disciples in a booming voice, “The Lord tells me that He wants to punish some of us, but not all of us, for our sins by striking dead some of us with lightning. So I now order the driver to stop the bus. Each of us will alight, touch that tree there and if you are not struck by lightning then you are not a sinner that the Lord wants to punish”.
With a pompous flourish, the priest got off the bus and walked to the tree.
He touched the tree. Nothing happened.
In elation and pride, he walked back to the bus and ordered the next disciple to step up to the ultimate test. The driver came next, nothing happened to him though lightning still struck continuously near the bus. And so each of the disciple marched down the bus and came back unscathed.
Finally there was only one remaining neophyte sitting at the back seat for he would be the last to go.
In a somewhat authoritative voice, the priest spoke to the young neophyte, “Now you are the last man sitting. I do not know what sin have you committed that you have incurred the wrath of the Lord that He does not take penance but instead wanted to take your life away. Say onto me what is your last wish and I shall see that it shall be granted.”
“O’ Master, I wish to thank you for taking me into your Order. Please tell my beloved father and mother that I have done nothing wrong so far and that if this prodigal son of them will to be called to the Lord’s side, then I pray that the Lord provides for them sufficient sustenance in their old age.”
There was a hush silence. Those around him began to commiserate with him and said all the nice things the ears would like to hear. They would give the young neophyte the final rite of passage to meet his maker. All bleeding hearts but inwardly they were glad to be alive and this young intake was the one who had sinned and gave them all these unnecessary trouble.
Small talks began to erupt from some back rows. They were in animated conversations on how this young neophyte had sinned.
“I have heard that there were always missing funds from the donation boxes. He might be the thief in the night who stole the funds. However, the O’ Master did not pursue the matter.”
“I think he played with himself and sinned against the Lord as we have taken our oath of chastity.”
“I think he was the murderer who gave our temple cat many blows with a rattan cane till the cat died”.
All the bad events that had happened at their monastery were now attributed to this young neophyte. There were giggles, laughter, congratulations, soft singing, mantra chanting and all sorts of happy noises from the disciples.
“Much as I have loved you, you have to go now” said the O’ Master to the neophyte.
As the young neophyte walked to the tree, he was calm and clear minded. He was chanting the mantra given to him by his parents and not the mantra that he had been learning for the past few months from the O’ Master. Perhaps he had resigned to what fate has installed for him and so be it.
Just as he touched the tree a huge lightning bolt struck the bus with such force that it lifted the bus several feet above the ground. There was only some small fire from within, all became cinders, charred bodies and acrimonious smoke.
Now the young neophyte was the last man standing.