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PEARL DIVER- IV


It so happened that Fernandez was tired that evening but un-inclined to go to bed went to the nearby place where there was a new preacher of the Bible, who had set up a small hut, where he was congregating the fisher folks and teaching them The Bible.

He called himself Apostle Zorba. It was rather strange that the so called “Apostle”, did not bear a regular Christian name. It was also difficult for the local Tamil population to get the pronunciation right and he was called ‘apposthalar soba’. Fernandez, upon entry into the hut heard Zorba read out a passage from the old Testament from the book of Exodus which ran as follows:-

King James Bible

“Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.(Exodus 22:28)

Since it was in the middle of a bible study, Fernandez had missed out the earlier part of the sermon. There were hardly ten persons who were attending the Bible study.

Fernandez heard Zorba say : It is time a Christian realized that this verse is as much a commandment from God, as the one that says, “Go & baptize ye the people in the Name of the Father, son and the Holy Ghost.” But you have seen preachers wanting to replace the existing gods with Jesus. Hence they revile the other gods.

Jesus is NOT a replacement, HE is the GOD. That is the Christian Faith and Creed. There is no need to talk of the other gods. In fact if one reads Exodus 23:13 it is written :And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

Further if one reads the book of JUDE in the New Testament, it is written (by the way there is only one chapter in the book of JUDE):

8: Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9: Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
10: But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

In effect, the Bible says do not say anything against other gods and also do not talk of things that man cannot understand. Therefore I tell everyone here that they have neither the knowledge nor the authority to talk of other gods.”

Fernandez was flabbergasted, it was more so because Apostle Zorba was citing the scripture and cogently building up his case. He did not listen to the rest of the sermon, his mind was going round and round the statement of Apostle Zorba : Jesus is NOT a replacement, HE is the GOD.

Fernandez found for the first time a preacher expounding the Bible in a non-traditional way. In any case he wanted to meet Diaz and discuss the sermon the next morning.

The next afternoon Fernandez met Diaz and spoke of the sermon. Diaz was amused and told Fernandez, “It is easier to believe in any god, but it is impossible to comparatively assess various religious systems and arrive at the best religion. It is the STRENGTH of BELIEF in any system that creates UNITY of the SELF and REDEEMS man. Therefore it is essential to AFFIRM without options and reservations. Hence Christianity requires one to believe in the DIVINITY of Jesus and be focussed on that belief and ONLY on that belief.

Diaz said, ” Get on with your WORK of finding the GREAT PEARL, a busy bee has no time to worry or seek the Truths pertaining to religion.”

Fernandez felt a load off his back, he dived into the warm sea water……….

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PEARL DIVER- III


After the huge homily from Diaz, Fernandez was totally confused. He was a stripling of just 16 years and had spent his years NOT getting into concepts but getting a first hand FEEL of experiences possible thru his senses. So Diaz’ use of words such as INTENTION, AWARENESS, RESIST did not give clarity to his thoughts.

Yet Fernandez was attentive to whatever Diaz was saying. He was possessed with an ambition to excel. Excel in the profession of diving for oysters, that consuming passion in a couple of days had blinded him to most of the distractions that haunt sixteen year-olds. In his free time he used to go to the nearby rock abutting the beach and keep watching the waves, as his sub-conscious mind was saturating itself with ideas on diving.

Diaz had recognized that his pep talk was not getting the receptivity for lack of conceptual understanding and therefore decided to talk on things REAL. Real in the sense, that which is palpable to the senses.

The next day afternoon, as agreed, both were off to the rock in the ocean where the previous day the test of endurance was conducted on Fernandez by Diaz. Fernandez was sitting in a relaxed manner, yet respectful of Diaz’ presence.

Diaz asked Fernandez, ” You want to get the GREAT PEARL, but do you know why there are some oysters with Pearls and mostly without?”

Upon the silence of Fernandez, Diaz continued :  ” When  an irritating grain of sand  gets stuck between  the shell of the  oyster and the mantle (just  take it as the soft body of the mollusk) the  oyster secretes a  thing called the NACRE. This nacre surrounds the  irritating grain  and  provides  a coating as a protection to the soft and tender tissues of oyster. It does not coat that grain of sand once and leave it, but keeps coating it with the secretion called Nacre on a regular basis. It is this multi coating that gains in size over a few years and becomes a pearl.”

Fernandez was quite amazed that the pearl was nothing but an irritant that the oyster copes with through glossing. He was of the opinion that the Pearls were nothing but productions by oysters to establish their superiority over the non-pearl oysters. Now, his notions were severely challenged. It was the product of its  defect that the oyster was incapable of ejecting from its body at the first instance and  concealing it for years.

Diaz broke in, ” The oysters that were strong enough to eject the grains of sand or prevent the grain of sand from getting between the shell and the mantle DO NOT PRODUCE PEARLS. It is the ones which were incapable or careless that allowed the grain to get  that far which MAY produce pearls. But all the oysters that let the sand that far did not produce pearls either. There are many oysters which have grains between their shells and their mantles, yet have been harvested and found NOT to contain  Pearl.

It is the oyster which had turned its ADVERSITY into a pleasant ACTIVITY that produced PEARLS. The oyster has to coat that grain of sand with Nacre and has to daily coat the irritant with the nacre and thus the PEARL grows. The pearl is considered of value by the human beings not merely because of  the LUSTRE, but the IDEA that a NATURAL PEARL is distinguishable from the cultured ones and that the natural ones are RARE.

The oyster which had turned its difficulty into an activity over a long period, enjoys the smooth feel of the pearl. It feels no more of the irritation on its soft flesh. The pearl is the symbol of its overcoming its ADVERSITY with hopeful ACTIVITY.”

This interpretation of the Pearl dumbfounded Fernandez. He was so far seeing the Pearl as a commodity that he ought to find to escape poverty and lead a comfortable life. He was wondering if he should believe the story given out by Diaz.

The day was a waste, nothing was done. While Diaz was sitting on the rock, Fernandez was floating around in the waters and diving and coming up at intervals, but with no purpose or challenge. Diaz had drifted into his metaphysical thoughts. Both swam and walked back with silence for company. Fernandez was still disappointed- PEARL:mere saliva on a grain of sand!!
(to be continued….)

PEARL DIVER-II


So Fernandez had resolved to become a Professional pearl diver.

He went back to his sleeping shack , spread out the Palmyra mat and with his bent right hand for a pillow & lay down. His head started feeling different, it was no more about getting up early, attending Diaz’ classes, going off to play with the waves, eating out in the shacks, stealing fish while assisting the other fishermen  draw their draught from the sea and such mundane trivialities. It was set in motion on a direction that Fernandez had hitherto not imagined. He wanted to learn the art of fetching as many oysters as possible to the shore and prise each open with the expectation that that oyster contained the GREAT PEARL.

He wanted to meet Diaz and ask him if  he could still continue with the diving classes, even though he had decided to go free-lancing. Fernandez met Diaz and asked him his doubt, Diaz advised that even if the Merchants were not likely to object if he left at a later stage, there was no guarantee that they might not bad mouth him later, if he became successful, stating that Fernandez owed his skills to the school of the Merchants. Diaz gave an alternative, I’ll teach you all the skills that i had learnt from the ocean and you in return, when u get the GREAT PEARL give me my fee for the private tuition that i give you.

Fernandez was agreeable to the proposal. In fact, he was excited that his mentor reposed so much faith on him getting the GREAT PEARL. His timings were shifted from the early mornings to about 3 in the afternoon.

The master and the pupil went towards the sea and as they were walking, Diaz told Fernandez IN PEARL HUNTING, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING  TO KNOW IS WHEN TO START THE JOURNEY BACK  TO THE SURFACE.

THERE IS A LIMIT TO EVERYTHING, THAT LIMIT COULD BE PUSHED THROUGH ACTION, INCREMENTALLY- BUT NEVER AS A LEAP.

FURTHER, THE LIMIT OF ONE’S LIMITATION IS TO BE CALIBRATED MENTALLY AND AT LEAST TEN SECONDS BEFORE ONE REACHES ONE’S LIMIT ONE HAS TO START THE ASCENT. IT IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TIMING TO JUDGE ONE’S LIMITS AND START FOR THE SURFACE THAT DISTINGUISHES A MAESTRO FROM A MERE ARTISAN.

Fernandez was all ears, but the profundity of the statements of a veteran is seldom understood in the context to which it relates. Fernandez was still subconsciously dreaming of the oyster containing the GREAT PEARL on the very first batch of pickings. Diaz had gone thru all this himself and was trying to transmit his conceptual understanding into bits of sensual activity. He was acutely aware that without ACTIVITY there was no TIME and without AWARENESS there was no CREATIVITY.

To shock Fernandez into total concentration Diaz said THERE ARE MANY WHO HAD TAKEN IN A LUNGFUL OF SALINE WATER AND HAD ALMOST BREATHED THEIR LAST.

DEATH COMES CALLING SOONER ON A MAN WHO IS AMBITIOUS BUT INCAPABLE, THAN TO A MAN WHO MAKES AN ATTEMPT ON HIS OWN LIFE.

AS ANY WORTHWHILE AMBITION IS NOTHING BUT THE UNRAVELING OF A TREASURE THAT THE COSMIC FORCES YIELD ONLY AFTER A THRESHOLD OF ACTIVITY. THIS THRESHOLD OF ACTIVITY HAS TO BE ATTAINED THROUGH RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF THAT ACTIVITY EMBARKED UPON.

Fernandez understood the first lesson of LIFE- to be ALIVE. Not merely to be alive, but to indulge in an ACTIVITY with total AWARENESS. Awareness of one’s LIMITATIONS, yet to DO that which one’s deeper self is impelling one to do.

Off they swam to an area well known to Diaz as a place deep enough but with a rock abutting the deep- that one could feel one’s way up as well as down. Fernandez was asked to get as deep as possible and get back without attempting to stay at any place. That is keep getting yourself down and when u know that u have just enough breath to get back, start moving up. Diaz’ orders were  heard and Fernandez, to impress Diaz pushed himself down as quicly and furiously as possible to get as deep as possible. After about 90 seconds Fernandez resurfaced and as he emerged he let out his breath and started panting. He drew to the side of the rock and clung on to it while still drawing breaths with his mouth opening in fervid rapidity. Diaz watched it with  stoic silence, but made it known to Fernandez that he was watching him. After the stabilizing of Fer’s breath, Diaz asked if being under water for a mere 1 1/2 minute would be sufficient to get hold of at least a dozen oysters? Fer was ashamed. He said he would try to stay longer.

Diaz called him up on the rock and said: DO NOT HAVE YOUR OBJECTIVE TO BE TO STAY LONG UNDERWATER. YOUR OBJECTIVE IS TO GET AS MANY OYSTERS AS POSSIBLE, SO THAT WITH EACH EXTRA PICKING OF AN OYSTER FROM THE REEF, YOUR CHANCES OF FINDING THE GREAT PEARL INCREASES BY ONE.

IF U SHOW YOUR INTENTION TO THE SEA, IT WILL TIRE YOU OUT WITH ITS DIFFICULTIES, LEARN TO ENJOY THE OCEAN AND BECOME A PART OF IT SO THAT THE WATER DOES NOT SEE YOU AS A FOREIGN BODY AND RESIST.

THE SEA SHOULD SEE U AS ANOTHER CREATURE WHOSE MEDIUM IS THE SEA. ENJOY YOUR SWIM, STAY UNDERWATER FOR THE JOY OF EXPLORING THE OCEAN FLOOR, CREATE AWARENESS WITHOUT THE INTENTION TO EXPLOIT THE SEA AND THE SEA WOULD BECOME YOUR FRIEND AND WILL RESIST U LESS.

(TO BE CONTINUED…..)

THE PEARL DIVER.


In the Gulf of Mannar, between Ceylon and India lay a stretch of  shallow seabed, where the divers were engaged by wealthy merchants, of yore, to go diving for fetching oysters. The oysters that contained a quality pearl was rare. But like all great enterprise, wealth lay in the rarity of the item, and therefore the merchants had opened a gurukul type of DIVING SCHOOL in the vicinity, where an old diver was engaged to identify young talent and teach them the art of pearl diving.

The Old Diver had enlisted many of the fishermen boys in his school. He used to take them every morning,before sunrise, to the oyster infested areas of the sea and regale to them the stories of how wealthy one could become, if one relentlessly worked hard in Pearl diving. After being inspired by those innumerable sessions, the boys started dreaming of becoming rich and getting a girl or two of their choice and having a great time in life filled with leisure.

There was a boy by name Fernandez, who  was the THINKING TYPE. The type that seeks PROOF before  the words sink into them to work within. He was wondering, why the Teacher himself had not become wealthy, as he had been in the same profession till his breath had become shorter with age! This was niggling him through the nights and made him skeptical of the old man’s pep talks during the day.

Since he couldn’t arrive at any answer convincing to himself, he decided to ask the Teacher the reasons for his indigent circumstances. And not to give offence, Fernandez decided to ask Mr. Diaz, the teacher, at a time when he could find him alone. As usual Fernandez woke up early and reached Diaz’ house before any other student could. The master was surprised, to find Fernandez so early and asked him what the reason was for his early arrival? The boy stuttered and could not ask Diaz a question that would expose his master’s inadequacy in the eyes of his pupil. However, Diaz  successfully persuaded him to utter his doubt.

Diaz was silent and told him that he should meet him at 10 O’ clock that morning.  The classes stood cancelled for all. The other boys were happy and spent their time playing with the ever returning waves. Fernandez turned up at 10 sharp and found Diaz dressed, as if he were to attend the Christmas service. Fernandez was asked to accompany him. They both set off on a long walk on the beach. Diaz asked Fernandez, why he was excited about pearl diving? The boy said I DO NOT WANT TO BE POOR. Diaz was stunned and the reasons therefor was not uttered. Diaz  knew  that the boy could read and understand English. He asked Fernandez, if he had heard of a writer by name D.H.Lawrence? Fernandez answered in the negative. He asked him to meet him that evening at about 4 PM at his hut.

Fernandez reached promptly at 4 and Diaz simply handed over a few torn pages of a book and told Fernandez to read that story and that Fernandez should not talk to him till after a week of his having read the story. Fernandez, took the torn pages to his hut and started reading THE ROCKING HORSE WINNER. The end made him feel terrible in a way that he could not explain rationally.   As usual, he went for his diving classes and after a week, he went early like the other day and met his master. The master saw the confused eagerness in his eyes, yet he told Fernandez to meet him that evening after sun down. Diaz took out Fernandez for a long walk- that was all that he could afford.

Diaz asked Fernandez, how  the story was. Fernandez said that the end was not justifiable. Paul should not have been found dead on the Rocking Horse. Not at least after he had won the bet placed on the race horse MALABAR and had made himself rich, Fernandez said.

Diaz said the end is perfectly justifiable. Paul rode his rocking horse to find the winner, but one can not push things beyond one’s means. Paul was impelled by the voices that  he heard as THERE MUST BE MORE MONEY, but to get at the inspiration he had to WORK, and hard work at that. He worked out till he couldn’t work anymore. Paul was trying to enslave DAME LUCK with his willfulness, but paid with his LIFE. In any case, he was not able to enjoy the fruits of his WILLFULNESS.

“Man cannot eliminate poverty through getting lucky, he has to redeem his luck through Labour. By the sweat of his brow he has to earn his bread and anything less is disastrous”, said Diaz. I am a Paul myself, the only difference is that I am still alive. Instead of diving on my own and looking for oysters in the seabed, i pledged my skills to a merchant who used to take 25  other divers besides me, to the diving area and when each came up with his collection of oysters, each was  made to dump his pickings of oysters in the middle of the ship for opening the oysters later. I did not know whether the PEARLS came out of my collection or that of anyone else’.   In any case, the merchant assured me my WAGES and till I got old,  I did the same thing again and again till i could not hold my breath any longer- fit enough  for diving. Now that i am retired, i am here eking out a living thru teaching. I pledged my skills in the altar of CERTAINTY of food and here I stand ALIVE in body, but DEAD in SPIRIT.

But you have the age to do it. Food will come by. The sea will provide and people will be inspired if u choose to find the GREAT PEARL YOURSELF- without pledging your skills to the merchant- and their offerings will keep the wolf away. The merchant makes you old, and THE MERCHANT had  never ever made anyone  RICH. Therefore do not run away from the fear of POVERTY, instead believe in the happening of a rare possibility in your life and work. The time MAY come for the Good Lord to repay you and you will LIVE to ENJOY THE FRUITS OF YOUR LABOUR. But merely because of the MAY, do not sacrifice the possibility of the MAY for the certainty of PHYSICAL EXISTENCE!

LIFE IS ALL ABOUT LETTING ONE’S HOPES OUTLIVE ONE’S LIFE.

Fernandez was resolved, he went back to his hut whistling, A PROFESSIONAL PEARL DIVER.

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