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Tenth Man Parable

To: soc.religion.eastern
From: Jochen Kleinschmidt
Subj: Tenth Man Parable (0000.tnthman.rm)
Date: unknown

Quoting: Ramana Maharshi

The parable of the tenth man is an old Indian tale used by Vedantins, 
Buddhists and Taoists alike to make the point that liberation (moksha) 
is already at hand and that the only thing that prevents us from 
realizing this, is our ignorant, misguided search for it.
 
--------------------
 
Ten foolish men forded a raging stream and on reaching the other shore 
wanted to make sure that all of them had in fact safely crossed the 
stream.  One of them began to count, but while counting the others left 
himself out.  "I see only nine, we have lost one!", he said.  "Did you 
count correctly?", asked another, and did the counting himself.  But he 
too counted only nine.  One after the other, each of the ten counted 
only nine, missing himself.  "We are only nine", they all agreed, "But 
who is the missing one?"  Every effort they made to discover the missing 
individual failed.  "Whoever it is who is missing, he must have drowned 
and we forever lost him", they all said, bursting into tears.
 
Seeing them weeping by the river bank, a sympathetic wayfarer inquired 
about the cause.  They related what had happened and said that even 
after counting themselves several times, they could only find nine.  On 
hearing the story, but seeing all ten before him, the wayfarer guessed 
what had happened.  In order to make them know for themselves that they 
were really ten, that nobody was missing, he told them: "Let each of you 
count just himself, one after the other serially, saying aloud one, two, 
three and so on, while I shall give you each a blow so that all of you 
can be sure of having been included in the count, and included only 
once.  I assure you that the tenth missing man will then be found."
 
Hearing this, they rejoiced at the prospect of finding their lost 
comrade and proceeded as told by the wayfarer.  While the kind wayfarer 
gave a blow to each of the ten in turn, he that got the blow counted 
himself aloud.  "Ten", said the last man as he got the last blow in his 
turn.  Bewildered, they looked at one another.  "We are ten!", they said 
with one voice and jubilantly thanked the wayfarer for having removed 
their grief.
    
--------------------
 
Ramana Maharshi's comments on this parable:
 
>From where was the tenth man brought in?  Was he ever lost?  By knowing 
that he had been there all along, did they learn anything new?  The 
cause of their grief was not the real loss of anyone, it was their own 
ignorance, or rather the mere supposition that one of them was lost.
 
Such is the case with you.  Truly there is no cause for you to be 
unhappy or miserable.  You yourself impose limitations on your true 
nature of infinite being, and then weep that you are but a finite 
creature.  Then you take up this or that spiritual practice to transcend 
the non-existent limitations.  But if your spiritual practice itself 
assumes the existence of the limitations, how can it help you transcend 
these limitations?
 
Hence I say: know that you are really the infinite pure being, the Self.  
You are always that Self and nothing but that Self.  Therefore, you can 
never really be ignorant of the Self.  Your ignorance is merely an 
imaginary ignorance, like the ignorance of the ten fools over the lost 
tenth man.  It is this ignorance that caused them grief.
 
Know then that true knowledge does not create a new being for you, it 
only removes your ignorance.  Bliss is not added to your nature, it is 
merely revealed to you as your true natural state, eternal and 
imperishable.  The only way to be rid of your grief is to know and be 
the Self.  How can this be unattainable?
 
Question: But how is one to reach this state?
 
There is no goal to be reached.  There is nothing to be attained.  You 
are the Self.  You exist always.  Nothing more can be predicated of the 
Self that it exists.  Seeing the Self is only being the Self, or 
yourself.  Seeing is being.  You, being the Self, want to know how to 
attain the Self.  It is somewhat like a man being at Ramanasramam asking 
how many ways there are to reach Ramanasramam and which is the best way 
for him.  All that is required of you is to give up the thought that you 
are this body and to give up all thoughts of the external things or the 
not-Self.
 
Jochen Kleinschmidt

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