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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

The Mystical Art of Driving

Mohada Dura mindfully depressed the clutch and slowly located first gear. His concentration remained focused, single-mindedly, on the tasks of the moment: the control of the vehicle and observation of the road ahead. Not for a second did his mind wander in pursuit of random thoughts. Had he allowed this, he might have reflected on what had led to him driving a top-of-the-range Mercedes along a deserted motorway at three miles an hour.

This could have been traced to the SRPCHASM - the ‘Self-Righteous, Politically Correct, Health and Safety Movement’. Their central philosophy was that risk, at any level, was unacceptable. Anything must be done to prevent misfortune, regardless of the effect on quality of life. If misfortune occurred, someone should be blamed - indeed their litigation against God continues for causing death by reckless Creation.

Mohada’s current circumstance followed from law introduced in late 2003 banning the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving. Widespread support of this legislation encouraged the SRPCHASM, and thus they argued that all telephone conversations from cars while driving were a distraction. Offending the Movement was political and professional suicide, so a law soon followed.

Opponents challenged that mobile telephone calls were no more distracting than talking to a car passenger. The SRPCHASM agreed, and passengers were quickly banned, unless fully sedated. Prohibition of radios and music players followed. At this point it was widely believed that the SRPCHASM would move on to persecute some other sector of society. A report appeared, however, which demonstrated that, even without external distractions, the nature of mental processes were such that random thoughts and feelings perpetually diverted the consciousness of most people. Made curious by these findings, many tried to focus their minds on one thing, only to discover that they quickly became engrossed in some story of the past or future, loosing awareness of the present.

Law rapidly followed which required total unerring mental concentration as a prerequisite for holding a driving licence. Forty-three people in the UK remained eligible to drive.

Mohada was one, having practised mindfulness in meditation for nearly thirty years since becoming a Buddhist monk. Others were to be found in monasteries throughout the land.

Initially, many motorists claimed to be Zen masters. Research had, however, identified that meditative brain-wave patterns and a strict vegetarian diet produced distinctive body chemistry. It had been a simple process to covert breathalyser equipment to what the tabloid press described as ‘monkalysers’.

Seventeen-year-olds rushed to get provisional licences and join meditative orders. The prospect of many years of silent mental discipline, however, led most to seek amazingly dangerous ways of walking, instead.

So it was that Mohada was driving to collect sacks of organic vegetables for the monastery kitchen. The car had been donated to the monastery, like so many others whose owners had been banned. It had been a great victory for the SRPCHASM as road traffic accidents no longer occurred. Those eligible to drive seldom did so, and most were members of geographically disparate monastic orders. As for the speed, the car could travel in excess of two hundred miles an hour. For ‘driving meditations’, however, Mohada thought that walking pace was just fine.