The Seeker (Flash Fiction)

“Enlightenment lies within,” said the guru. “You must journey to your inner-self.” The man sat with a small tobacco pipe in his hand and a soft smile on his face. Bob only blinked in waiting. “Go,” said the guru. “When the sun sets this evening, climb to the top of Mount Abu. Look down with your heart, not with your eyes. Return in the morning and tell me what you see.”

Bob walked out of the small cement building and wiped the sweat from his head. The afternoon sun was searing the horizon, and Bob went back to his small hotel to wait. When the light fell from the sky, he slipped on his shoes and went outside. Carefully navigating the small path, Bob made his way to the top of the humble mountain and looked down. He could see the lights from the nearby town reflect across a small lake. A crescent moon hung in the sky. But as Bob looked on, trying to see the world with his heart, discouragement came over him. He felt no different than before. He made his way back down the mountain in sorrow and returned to the guru the next day.

“You must dive,” the guru said. His pipe was freshly filled and his smile was wide. “You must hear with your soul and not with your ears. When the sun rises to the top of the sky, strip naked and return to the sea. Submerge yourself in the waters of life’s origin and then return to me. Tell me of the words the sea speaks.”

Bob made his way through the windy rounds of west India to reach the Indian Ocean. The journey was hot and long, and he stayed over night. When he reached the shore the next day, it was filled with people. He sat for nearly an hour, trying to devise a way, any way, to make to the water naked without being seen. When the time came, he simply stripped himself down and ran. His body was a stark white contrast to the native people. In the distance, he heard a woman scream. He dove into the water and forced himself down and only rose for air. His listened to the ocean with his soul, but no words did he hear. When he finally decided to leave, a small group of local police were waiting. An hour later, and with a hefty fine that bordered on extortion, he was finally free.

“Are you sure you listened with your soul?” asked the guru. “It’s unusual for the sea not to sing.” He puffed on his pipe with soft smacking sounds and a smile was permanently cracking his lips.

“I didn’t hear anything,” Bob said.

“Then the universe has nothing to say,” said the guru. “Do you wish to continue these exercises?”

Bob glared. “What do you mean? I seek enlightenment.”

“But don’t you see?” said the guru, still smiling. “You’re already enlightened. You’ve learned nothing.” A gleam took to the old man’s eye and more smoke drifted by.

“I’ve learned nothing?” Bob asked.

“Either that, or there is nothing left to learn,” said the guru. He smiled and gave Bob a small wink.

Bob left the small cement building, located in a chaotic space of some stinking downtown, and walked back to his hotel. While he walked, something profound occurred to him. He laughed, despite himself, and he found a small spring in his step. “Man,” Bob said. “That guru is a prick.”

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