There is a wonderful
story in one of the Upanishads about
Indra.It happened at this time that
a great monster had
all the waters of the Earth, climate change accelerated rapidly so
there was a terrible drought, and the
Earth was ill. It took Indra quite a while to realize that he had a box of
lightning bolts and that all he had to do was drop a lightning bolt on the
monster and electrified him. When he
did that, the waters flowed, and the Earth was refreshed, and
Indra said, "What a great
boy am I."
confidence Indra thinks, "What a great boy am I." Indra
goes up the cosmic mountain, the
central mountain of
Earth, and decides to build a
palace worthy of himself. The
Jesus the Tekton, goes to work on it,
and in very quick order Jesus the Tekton
gets the palace into pretty good
Indra comes to inspect it, he has bigger
ideas about how splendid and grandiose the
palace should be. Finally, the
Jesus the Tekton says, "We are both
immortal, and there is no end to
his desires. I am caught for
eternity." So he decides to go
to Brahma, the Creator, and complain.
Brahma sits on a lotus, the
divine energy and
divine grace. The lotus
grows from the navel of
Vishnu, who is the sleeping god, whose
dream is Creation. So the
Carpenter comes to the edge of the great
lotus pond of Creation and tells his story to Brahma.
Brahma says, "Go back to Palestine.
rift between the Palestinians and the Zionists.
Then go to Rome and reign in the
Catholics. Finally respark the
Christian Protestant revival
reedeming it from the spiritual corruption of prosperity theology in
Brahma gets off his lotus and kneels down to
address sleeping Vishnu.
Vishnu just makes a gesture and says,
"Listen, dust mite, something is going to happen."
Next morning, at
the gate of the palace that is
being built, there appears a beautiful blue black boy with a lot of children
around him, just admiring his beauty. The
porter at the gate of the new palace goes running to Indra, and
Indra says, "Well, bring in the beautiful blue black boy." The beautiful blue
black boy is brought in, and Indra,
feeling supreme sitting on his throne, says, "Boy, what brings you to my
"Well," says the
beautiful blue black boy with a voice like thunder rolling on the horizon, " I
have been told that you are building such a
palace as no
Indra before you ever built."
Indra says, "Indras before me? Boy what are you talking about?!"
The beautiful blue black boy says, "Indras before you. I have seen them
come and go, come and go. Just think, Vishnu sleeps in the cosmic void, and
the lotus of creation grows from his navel. On
the lotus sits Brahma, the Creator. Brahma
opens his eyes, and a world comes into being, governed by an Indra. Brahma
closes his eyes, and a world goes out of being. The life of a
Brahma is four hundred and thirty two thousand
years. When Brahma dies, the lotus dies, and
another lotus is formed, and another Brahma. Then think of the galaxies beyond
galaxies in infinite space,
each a lotus, with a Brahma sitting on it,
opening his eyes, closing his eyes. And Indras? There may be
wise men in your court who would volunteer to
count the drops of water in the oceans of the Earth or the
grains of sand on the beaches, but no one would count those Brahma, let
alone those Indras."
While the beautiful blue black boy is talking, an
army of ants parades across the floor. The beautiful blue black boy laughs when
he sees them, and Indra's hair stands on end, and he says to the boy, "Why do
The beautiful blue black boy
answers,"Don't ask unless you are willing
to be hurt."
Indra says, "I
The beautiful blue black boy points to the ants and
says, "Former Indras all. Through many lifetimes they rise from the lowest
conditions to highest illumination.
And then they drop their lightning bolts on the
monster, and they think, 'What a great boy am I.' And down they go again."
While the beautiful blue black boy is talking, a
crotchety old yogi comes
into the palace with a banana
leaf parasol. He is naked except for a loincloth, and on his chest is a little
disk of hair, and half the hairs in the middle have all dropped out.
The beautiful blue black boy greets him and asks him just what Indra
was about to ask.
"Old yogi, what is your
name? Where do you come from? Where is
your family? Where is your house? And what is the meaning of this curious
constellation of hair on your chest?"
"Well," says the
crotchety old yogi, "my
name is Hairy. I don't have a house. Life
is too short for that. I just have this parasol. I don't have a family. I just
meditate on Vishnu's feet, and think of
eternity, and how time is
passing. Every time an Indra dies, a world disappears; these things just flash
by like that. Every time an Indra dies, one hair drops out of this
circle on my chest. Half the hairs
are gone now. Pretty soon they will all be gone. Life is short. Why build a house?"
the two disappear. The beautiful blue black boy was
the Lord Protector, and the
crotchety old yogi was
Shiva, the creator and
destroyer of the Earth, who had just come for
the instruction of Indra, who is simply a god of
thinks he is all of Creation.
Indra is sitting there on the throne. He is
completely disillusioned. Indra calls the
Carpenter and says, "I am quitting the
building of this palace. You are
dismissed." So the Carpenter got his
Carpenter is dismissed from the job, as
there is no more house building going on.
Indra decides to go
out and be a yogi and just meditate on
the lotus at the feet of Vishnu.
Only Indra has a beautiful queen named
Indrani. And when Indrani
hears of Indra's plan, Indrani goes to the
priest of the gods and says, "Now
got this idea in his head of going
out to become a yogi."
"Well," says the
priest, "come in with me,
darling, and we will sit down, and I will fix this up."
So they sit
down before the king's throne, and the
priest says, "Now, I wrote a
book (sacred writings) for you many
years agi on the art of politics. You are in
the position of the king of the gods. You are
a manifestation of the mystery of
Brahma in the field of time. This is a high
privilege. Appreciate it, honor
it, and deal with life as though you were what, in reality, you
really are. And besides, now I am going to
write you a book on
the art of compassion so that you and your
wife will know that in the wonderful mystery
of the two that are one, the Brahma
is radiantly present also."
set of instructions, Indra gives up his
idea of going out and becoming a yogi and finds that, in life, he can represent
the Eternal as a symbol of the
Brahma. So each of us is, in a, way, the
Indra of his own life.
make a choice, either to throw it all off and
go into the forest to
meditate, or to stay in man's
world, both in the life of your job, which
is the kingly job of politics and achievement, and in the compassion life with your
wife and family.
adapted from a
story of a Joseph Campbell adaptation
back to stacks
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