Diotima gestured that they both sit beside the fire in the newly vacated arm chairs. “So, if love is the force that allows one-ness, how can a soul love something that doesn’t love it back? I mean God, a perfect being, the source of all concepts, with the best will in the world, He’s not going to care very much about me?”
“Oh… Pete! That is to miss the point entirely, God does love you back. There is the trifling matter that God’s desire for love is the sole purpose of all existence.”
“I see.” Diotima looked Pete carefully in the eyes.
“No, you do not,” she concluded, “pray allow me to show you.” Pete flinched and screwed up his eyes as the dark sitting room was practically scorched away by a sudden Indian midday sun. “Sorry!” said Diotima cheerfully, “didn’t expect it to be quite that bright.” Shielding his eyes, Pete found himself in a spectacular palace courtyard filled with excited spectators.
“Many people find earthly love with a manifestation which compliments them, but a blessed few find someone who is the complimentary form of them, the complimentary soul of them if you like. This is true, eternal love, as eternal as the forms.”
“Good afternoon Peter.” The young man turned,
“Hel_” he began, but there was nobody there.
“Down here.” Sat cross legged on a threadbare carpet was an old Indian man with snowy white hair held in a top knot and a long beard. He wore loose orange clothing and an impressive collection of beads.
“Pete, I’d like you to meet my good friend the ancient Indian epic poet Valmiki,” said Diotima heartily. Flinching with pain, the old man awkwardly moved up so there was room on the carpet for the newcomers.
“So why are we here?” asked Pete excitedly.
“Let’s take a look,” smiled Valmiki. The carpet rose a few metres in the air where there was a clear view of the event.
“How did_” gasped Pete.
“Oh… Pete!” interrupted Diotima, “isn’t it obvious?”
“Well, um, no.”
“Space and time are a prison only for those who believe in them,” said Valmiki, “once you realise that, you can escape.” Feeling under threat of further scorn from Diotima, Pete decided to settle for this broad-brush explanation. The large crowd in the stands around the edge jeered as another competitor, a giant of a man failed to lift up from the ground an ornate archery bow. The would-be archer hunched his giant shoulders and trudged off sadly in defeat. A remarkably handsome, yet blue-skinned and slightly elfin young man was nearing the front of the competitors’ queue. His brother, stood behind, was encouraging him. “You must try, Rama,” he said in well-spoken Indian tones, “I hear that Princess Sita is uniquely beautiful and would make a fine bride.”
“Thank you for your encouragement Brother,” the other man replied, in similar tones, “but I would prefer to wait and find a bride that I truly love and that loves me also.” A bugle briefly sounded and Rama stepped forward towards the bow lying on the immaculately cut but scorched yellow grass. The crowd became silent in anticipation. Rama stood for a few seconds focusing, then crouched and strained every muscle of his lithe body, as he attempted to lift the bow.
“You see?” said Valmiki, “without manifestation, a form, even that of a god… is useless.”
“Oh… Pete! Do you not recognise a manifested god when you see one?”
“Please do not chastise the boy so, Diotima,” said Valmiki, “the blue man is Rama, one of the most important manifestations of the God Vishnu, the preserver.”
“He makes jams?”
“Reality needs maintenance? Even after being created by Brahma?”
“Bicycles, buildings, human bodies, everything in manifestation needs maintenance, as above, so below,” said Valmiki. Rama turned, calm in defeat and started to make his way back to the stands. But he gasped as a woman blocked his way. Her exquisite silk sari and heavy adornment with the most flawless jewels immediately appeared banal in Rama’s widened eyes when he saw her face. Her beauty was spectacular and yet honest at the same time, the young prince was temporarily mesmerised.
“Why don’t you try again?” the woman said politely.
“Sita, yes. I would like the bow; would you bring it to me please?” As if in a daze, Rama walked backwards to the bow, unable to free his gaze from the princess. He effortlessly picked up the bow and handed it graciously to Sita, who accepted it with a demure smile as the crowd erupted with cheers.
“A special moment,” said Valmiki reverently, “many people find earthly love with a manifestation which compliments them, but a blessed few find someone who is the complimentary form of them, the complimentary soul of them if you like. This is true, eternal love, as eternal as the forms. Vishnu has found his eternal consort, his divine wife, Lakshmi, manifesting as Sita and it shows.”
“Wow,” marvelled Pete as he watched the couple smiling in utter awe of the other before turning and walking towards a royal enclosure in the distance, “such deep meanings to the story.”
“That’s not the half of it,” said Valmiki, stroking his beard, “have you ever thought about why samsara exists? Why a loving God would cast out from Himself individual souls and make them travel through billions of reincarnations to get back to Him?”
“Well yes,” said Pete, “but I didn’t like to ask about that.”
“Oh… Pete! This is no time to be shy, you must seize this opportunity.”
“You are here to learn, ask any question you like,” chided Valmiki more gently. “The reason why the individual soul, what we Hindus would call the Ātman must travel back to Brahma, what you would call ‘God’ is for the best possible reason, love.”
“How do you mean?”
“Rama and Sita have still deeper levels of meaning. Rama is the eternal Godhead, Brahma, whilst Sita is the Atman, the individual soul. You see how they immediately love each other? Sita is in every one of us, she is our soul, our form, our true nature that loves God and wants to be with Him more than anything and will joyfully experience all possible suffering on her path back to Him.”
“But I know a lot of people that don’t love God, they don’t believe in Him or are angry at him due to suffering.”
“You cannot love someone until you have met them.”
“So you cannot love God until you meet Him.”
“But how is that possible within samsara? I thought you had to wait till near the end of all your lifetimes to get within sight of God?”
“Yes, but you can take a sneak peek!” smiled the old sage, “this is why I wrote the Ramayana, to help people love God by meeting him, by seeing him in an imaginable form, Rama. This why I am showing you key scenes from my work.” Pete was thoughtful.
“Making God into an imaginable earthly form… a bit like…”