Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Allegory of the Self

The courtiers met again that evening and concluded to dissolve the court until the resolution of the ongoing confusion. The confusion was caused by the Amatya’s claims that their beloved emperor was not really there and that he never was.
For long the courtiers had grown accustomed to the modus operandi of the court – which admittedly did seem a bit peculiar to a visitor but somehow not to the courtiers themselves. What was peculiar about this court was that the emperor never spoke to the courtiers and vice-versa. The emperor (they claimed) sat on the throne behind a veil and nobody ever looked beyond the veil. They attended the court dutifully and carried out their responsibilities. They did all that in the name of the emperor. He however never gave them any direct instruction or took any update in person.
The Amatya was always a bit uneasy about this arrangement and had tried to point out to some courtiers the real mechanism of the operations of the court. He claimed that someone or other always temporarily usurped the throne in the name of the emperor and directed others. It just seemed at the time that this itself was the decree of the emperor. What was even more intriguing, each of these usurpers themselves believed that they were usurping at the behest of the emperor.
There was the recent case of the Mahamantri taking centre stage and telling the Senapati to gather the troops for defence on the southern border. Then there was a time last week when the court clown entertained everyone for hours. Everyone hoped (but could not find out) that the emperor enjoyed the performance as well!
Amatya claimed that he came to the court early one day and opened the veil. Lo and behold, there was no emperor. There was no throne. There was just empty space. He put the veil back again to avoid shocking the courtiers.
One by one, they looked inside the veil and came back shocked – there was no emperor!

How are we to run the affairs of the court, they asked each other. Nobody had a good idea. Hence they dissolved the court for the time being, to look for answers!

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