One evening when
Darvesh returned to his hut after a long walk he was pleasantly
surprised to see his friends were already waiting for him. They felt
so comfortable in his modest hut that they had served themselves tea
and made a cup for him too. They knew the doors of Darvesh’s hut and
heart were always open for them.
Darvesh brought his
special long and rounded pillow, put it next to the wall and joined
the circle of friends on the straw floor. As he was sipping tea
suddenly everybody became silent out of respect for him. He smiled in
a graceful way with his smiling eyes.
“ You need not be
quiet” he said in his affectionate and charming voice.
“What were you people
discussing before I came into the hut?”
“We were asking each
other what was the fundamental difference between Humans and Animals?”
one Student of Philosophy stated who loved those meetings, as they
were heart warming and intellectually stimulating.
“That is an
interesting question. I would love to hear your answers.” Darvesh
encouraged the dialogue to continue. He knew that his friends came to
listen to him but he always tried to encourage them to share their own
thoughts. He believed dialogue was more precious than a monologue that
can easily become a sermon.
Darvesh looked at his
Scientist friend who was visiting from the United States and was well
respected for his articles about Darwin’s theory of Evolution. He
stated in a very calm, cool and collected manner, “ Human beings can
think logically, rationally and objectively. Animals do not have
thoughts, they just have instincts.”
“That is an
interesting thought” Darvesh responded. “I wonder whether Animals have
thoughts like Humans, they are just not aware of them. Animals know
but human beings know that they know.
Let’s ask the poet’s opinion.” Darvesh looked at his Poet friend who
was very popular because of his Urdu ghazals and Punjabi poems.
The Poet stared into
space for a few seconds and then said, “ Human beings have a language
that Animals do not have. That is why Humans have used their
imagination and created poetry, fiction, folktales and scriptures.”
Darvesh looked at the
Poet friend and responded, “ Maybe you mean written language. Language
is communication and maybe animals can communicate in a non-verbal
way. I have seen ants and bees communicating in a non-verbal language
doing wonders. Even silence can communicate volumes and sometimes
silence can communicate more than words. Unfortunately written
language can be misunderstood and words can be misinterpreted leading
to breakdown of communication. Some people use words to conceal rather
than reveal themselves.”
Suddenly Darvesh saw
a Priest sitting in the corner. He was always nervous as free thinkers
and intellectuals made fun of him. But Darvesh welcomed him in his hut
as much as the intellectuals as he was a sincere friend and an honest
follower of his ideals.
‘And what is your
opinion?” Darvesh asked the Priest.
The Priest stuttered
for a few seconds and then said, “ Human Beings can pray to God.
Animals don’t pray as they do not have a concept of God.”
Suddenly the Comedian
friend started laughing and said,
“ Can I say
“Go ahead.” Darvesh
gave his blessing.
“I think the biggest
difference between Animals and Humans is that Humans can laugh and
laugh loud, the belly laugh. I have never heard any animal laugh. As
far as prayers are concerned my Psychiatrist friend told me a joke. He
said, “ When Humans talk to God we call it prayers but when God starts
talking back, we call it Schizophrenia. Since animals don’t talk to
God and God does not talk back to them, Animals do not suffer from
Schizophrenia. Maybe that is the fundamental difference between Humans
While everybody was
smiling quite amused the Comedian said, “ Let me ask you a riddle.
“What did the
insomniac, agnostic, dyslexic say in the middle of the night?”
While everybody was
looking at him anxiously, he blurted out, “ The answer is, “Is there a
Some people seemed
offended by the off colour joke and the riddle as they had a
sophisticated sense of humour. Darvesh tried to bring back the
dialogue to a serious note so he asked his Psychologist friend,
“What is your opinion
scratched his head and said, “ Our Priest friend has a religious
perspective as he believes in God and Prophets and Scriptures and
Religion but there is also a secular perspective. Twentieth Century
Psychologists think that we can study spirituality as part of humanity
and not part of divinity. They call those encounters Peak Experiences
and Humans can have those experiences even when they do not believe in
God and Prophets and Scriptures and Religions. Humans have those
experiences when their Right Brains are stimulated. They believe that
Poets and Prophets have very active Right Brains.”
“But what is your own
opinion Darvesh?’ A young woman asked who had been sitting quietly and
patiently for the longest time. She was an Artist and loved to paint
Darvesh’s portraits. She had been charmed by Darvesh, “I come here to
listen to you.” She said in a stern voice. Her comment sent an uneasy
wave through the room.
“In my opinion”
Darvesh said, “ Humans have far more freedom than Animals. But that
freedom is a mixed blessing. Because of that freedom they have
choices, a choice to achieve enlightenment and also a choice to commit
suicide. It can be a personal suicide with a gun or overdose of pills
or a collective suicide by atomic bombs, wars and genocide.” The young
woman was pleased to hear Darvesh’s opinion. She believed she could
get out of Darvesh what others could not. Others wondered about the
nature of her relationship with Darvesh but kept quiet out of respect.
They knew women were drawn to his charming magnetic personality. They
were not sure whether it was an animal or a spiritual magnetism. They
wondered whether he was a saint or a sinner. Some thought he was both.
“And what do you
think?” Darvesh wanted to give her special attention and did not want
her to feel isolated in predominantly male company.
“ I am a mother and
when I gave birth to my son, I felt like a goddess. I realized I could
give birth to life. I do not see much difference between Animals and
Humans. The differences are much smaller than similarities. We are all
children of Mother Nature. Humans are distant cousins of rocks and
trees and birds and fish and Animals. We sometimes forget that we are
all here on planet Earth for a short time. Since men are unable to
create babies and life they suffer from the inferiority complex and
try to compensate by giving birth to sterile ideas and philosophies
and religions. They have limited capacity to love so they get violent
and have holy wars. Women have no need to do that. There is not a
single woman in the whole human history that was so deluded to call
herself a Prophet and declare that she talked to God. Women were
always humble trying their best to serve their children and their
communities as mothers and teachers and nurses. They never created
Religions and fought holy wars. Men are the ones who are conceited and
arrogant as they have big EGOS.”
While the woman was
talking another friend of Darvesh came into the hut. He was a
Political Activist who had spent a few years in jail in Pakistan as he
had challenged Islamic Sharia during Zia-ul-Haq’s military regime.
Everybody became silent. Darvesh asked him to come and sit close to
“Where are you coming
from?” Darvesh asked.
“From a seminar.” He
responded sitting next to Darvesh.
“What was the topic?”
“CAN WE SAY GOODBYE TO GOD?”
“ What did the speakers say?”
“ Some were Atheists who stated that
we cannot prove God logically. Some were Believers who stated that we
cannot logically prove that God does not exist. Some talked about
teleological and cosmological arguments that were as clear as mud. And
then there were agnostics who sat on the fence.”
“What is your view about agnostics?”
“To me they seem emotionally confused
and intellectually lazy.”
“And what about the audience?
“ They were passionate in their responses. Many people
expressed their opinions:
One existentialist said “GOD EXISTS BECAUSE I DO”.
One Psychologist stated, “God is a Santa Claus of humanity. It is a
One Anthropologist shared, “ God is part of world mythology. God is an
abstract metaphor not a concrete reality.”
One Naturalist mentioned, “God is Nature and nature is God. God is
laws of nature.”
One Mystic said, “ God is everywhere, in here, out there. God is our
guts, our conscience. God is enlightenment. We have to experience God
and not think about God.”
At the end of the seminar a woman stood up and started crying. She
said she was devastated to see so many Muslims becoming atheists and
agnostics and free thinkers. She was afraid they would all burn in
hell. As we were leaving the hall she was praying for all atheists
“And what is your opinion about God, Darvesh?” the new friend asked.
I like the philosophy of Buddha. He preferred not to discuss God as he
believed such discussions would cause more confusion than clarity. He
said it is important for all of us to know what not to do and what not
to talk about. He said we needed to know ourselves to become better
human beings to serve humanity so that we can all achieve inner and
outer peace and harmony. Heated discussions and passionate dialogues
might create more conflict than harmony if they are not done in good
conscience with the goal of learning.
met a Psychotherapist friend who told me he used dialogues in therapy
to heal people. He said psychotherapy is healing with words and
silences. It is a discipline in which the Socrates tradition of
dialogue is merged with Buddha’s tradition of silence and meditation.
An experienced therapist knows when to talk and when to listen, when
to speak and when to be quiet. When I asked the psychotherapist ‘Why
do people who do not believe in God has such a need to talk about
God?” he smiled and said,
When people grow up in religious families and communities some of them
are penalized, punished and persecuted. They are religiously abused.
And we need to help them keep on talking until they are healed. If you
do not let them talk and discuss they might get violent.”
“So for me” Darvesh said” Buddha’s silence is the end and not the
beginning of the journey. Sometimes we have to go through the road of
passionate dialogue to reach the destination of peaceful silence. Some
of us need a therapist to get there a wise psychotherapist is like a
good teacher and guru who listens to his students and disciples and
helps them listen to themselves. And when people are able to listen to
their own silences then they get in touch with truth.”
“And what do you mean by truth. Do you mean Personal truth or Ultimate
truth?” the Artist woman asked one more time as she was blushing.
Darvesh was silent for the longest time and then said, “This is the
most difficult question to answer. But I will try to answer it
indirectly. I think truth was revealed to Humanity by five great
personalities, by five great men of Jewish tradition.
The first one was Moses. He said, “The most important thing Humans
have is their Head. It is our intelligence that is significant. We
need to use it wisely.”
The second one was Jesus. He shared, “ The most important thing Humans
have is their Heart. We need to be caring and loving and forgiving and
The third one was Marx. He stated, “The most important reality is our
Stomach. Our hunger is the guiding force and is linked with economics
and labour. Hungry people can bring revolutions. We need to create
Just societies so that we can have paradise on earth and not wait for
the life after death. We all know that religion is the opium of the
The fourth one was Freud. He shared in his free association, “The
biggest reality are our genitals. It is our sexuality that gives birth
to love. If it is repressed it creates neuroses and Religion is a
Universal Neurosis because it gives birth to the concepts of sin and
guilt and hell. Sex is the ultimate reality. All the rest is
Finally the fifth one came. His name was Einstein. He listened to all
the other four and said, “It is all relative.”
“So, dear friends” Darvesh said with his graceful smile, “ There are
as many truths as there are human beings.”
As it was getting late his friends wanted to go home. Darvesh kissed
his friends on their foreheads, hugged the Artist and said, “You know
the doors of my heart and hut are always open to you. You are always
October 15th, 2005