What is liberation? A journey to the heights, going higher and higher, transcending oneself day after day. A journey to loftier heights is real learning, knowledge. Do we teach transcendence of oneself? No, we teach selfishness, exploitation, hoarding for one’s own self. We teach how to somehow fulfill our desires and expectations more proficiently, and we think we are giving our children real learning. Nothing can be more meaningless than this idea.
In one old seer’s school, three students were declared successful in their final examination. However, their teacher was telling them every now and then that the last examination was still to be taken. The last day of school arrived. They were given their degrees; the convocation ceremony was over and their final examination was still not taken. The students kept quiet; perhaps the teacher had forgotten. They packed their books, clothes and bedding, and went to their teacher in the evening to receive his last blessings before departure and then left him.
On their way they were thinking of the last examination. It was late in the evening and they had to reach the next village before nightfall. The road was rough and passed through a jungle; it was getting dark and there were wild animals in the area. They saw a narrow path through a thicket covered with lots of thorns.
One of the students jumped over the thorns. The second student went down the side road and bypassed the thorns. The third student put down his belongings and slowly started collecting the thorns and throwing them out of the way.
His friends told the third one, “Are you mad? Darkness is descending, we have to reach the village fast. There is no time to pick up the thorns. We have no time come quickly!”
The third one replied, “If it was daytime there would be no danger; whoever passed would see the thorns. But after we pass by, it will be so dark that the thorns will not be seen. If knowing this we pass by without thinking about those who may follow, our education will be meaningless. I will clear away the thorns you can go on.”
Meanwhile, the seer who was hiding in the bush jumped out. He himself had put the thorns on the path. It was their final examination. The seer said the other two students who had already crossed the thorns should go back to the school they had failed in the last examination. Only the third student, who cleared away the thorns, cleared the final examination too.
One who has known how to remove the thorns in life is really educated, learned. One who would clear the thorns for others will one day spread flowers on the road for them. But the one who sees the thorns on the path and, ignoring them, passes by, is bound someday to spread thorns on others’ paths.
The last examination is always of love. Love is always the ultimate value. The supreme heights in life are those of love. The Everest, the highest peak of life, is the peak of love.