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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison


‘You called for me, Oh Enlightened Master?’

‘Yes, Yusef. We have a problem with selecting the winner of the ‘Devotee of the Year’ award.’

‘I thought that ascetic who was hopping backwards for the whole one thousand miles from his home to our temple here in Delhi was bound to win. I’ve got ten thousand rupees riding on him with Honest Abdul.’

‘So have I. The problem is the Texan oil baron I saw yesterday.’

‘The one who agreed to donate five million dollars to the Temple?’

‘Yes. The five million dollars was his half of the deal.’

‘What was our half?’

‘Enlightenment by the end of next month. Gaining Enlightenment will make him the front runner for the Award, but if that ascetic guy doesn’t win, then there will riots among the rest of our followers.’

‘I agree that’s a big problem, but aren’t you overlooking a rather bigger one?’


‘Since we quit our jobs at Mcdonald’s and decided that setting up a religious cult would be a good little earner, neither of us has given any thought to spiritual advancement, so how are you going to lead the Texan to Ultimate Wisdom in the next six weeks?’

‘No problem. I’ve given him some spiritual exercises, and I’ll declare that whatever mood he’s in at the end of next month is Enlightenment.’

‘Won’t people think that was a bit easy for him?’

‘It’s nothing to do with me if the cosmic cycle of karma and rebirth should lead to close resemblance between the mind of the Buddha and the mind of a Texan oil baron. Come to think of it, it might get us a few more sponsors from that state.’

‘I think I have a solution.’

‘What’s that?’

‘Well, we know that neither the Ascetic nor the Texan can win the prize otherwise either our other followers would riot or it’s bye-bye Texan cash. There must be another winner.’

‘Then we’d lose both the followers and the cash.’

‘Only if another person won.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘I’ve been reading that children’s guide to religion we bought. One of the characteristics of enlightened teachers when presented with paradoxical problems is to say or do something totally bizarre. Followers seem to accept unexpected weirdness as a sign of great understanding. The more inexplicable it is to them, the further they assume the teacher’s knowledge surpasses their own.’

‘So what wins the prize?’

‘I don’t know. How about that chair you’re sitting on?’

‘Brilliant Yusef......Wait a minute, won’t the Ascetic and the Texan object?’

‘Nope. As they think themselves spiritually advanced, neither are going to admit that they don’t have a clue what you’re on about.’

‘Great idea. And the sacred chair could represent me at religious festivals, so I can stay in bed and watch TV.’

‘Perfect. Where are you going?’

‘I’m going to get a follower to visit Honest Abdul for me. Should get some pretty good odds against a chair.’