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Panchadashi Lesson - G0205: Tenth Man - 1

Module - G
Unit - G02
Lesson G0205: The story of the tenth man - Part I
By Raja Subramaniyan

This incident happened long, long ago. Man has just evolved from the monkey! Obviously, men in those times were not very intelligent as we are now. Therefore, we can imagine the level of ignorance displayed here without raising our eyebrow!

There were ten men traveling from one village to another passing through a jungle on the way. The village chief had told them to be together all the time and ensure that everyone is safe. They had to cross a turbulent river on the way. After crossing the river with great difficulty, all the ten assembled on the other shore.

One of them remembered the instruction of the village chief, said 'Let us check if all the ten of us have crossed the river safely', and started the head count. He counted everyone (except himself) and came to the figure of nine! He then said "Oh my god! We have lost one person".

Another from the group volunteered to recheck and he arrived at the same figure of nine. Then the gravity of the misfortune stuck all of them and they started searching for the missing person. Couple of them even jumped into the river to look for the missing person. When all their attempts failed to locate the tenth person, they started crying at their misfortune.

A wise man was passing-by and asked one of them the reason for their sadness.

The first man explained him the situation. The wise man (who is more evolved than the rest) could see their problem and said, "I can help you." However, the first man responded "No thanks sir. You will not be able to help since we know that we lost the tenth man. Life is like that. It is a mixture of pleasure and pain. We should learn to accept the pain if it is so destined"

The wise man then moved on to the next person and offered to help.

The second man got very angry and responded. "We do not want your help. How can you help us? We all tried our level best to locate the tenth person. Are we fools? How can you solve our problem when all our efforts have failed? So please go away"

The wise man then moved on to the next person and offered to help.

The third man was more hopeful. He asked the wise man "Can you really help us?" The wise man replied, "Yes….I can". "Then please jump into the river and get him. We are sure we lost him there!" The wise man said that there is no need for him to get into the river and he can solve the problem without getting wet! The third man replied, "That is not possible. You cannot help us without getting into the water" and ignored the wise man.

The wise man then moved on to the next person and offered to help.

The fourth man was very desperate and he somehow wanted to solve the problem. Therefore, he asked the wise man to locate the tenth man in whatever way he thinks fit. The wise man said, "I have already located and I can see all the ten of you here. No one is missing anymore". Hearing this, the fourth man became very happy. He fell on the feet of the wise man and thanked him for his help.

The fifth man overhearing this conversation was not satisfied with the answer of the wise man. He asked him 'How do you say that there are ten of us. Prove it to me'. The wise man then counted each one of them by pointing fingers at each one and proved that there were ten. Hearing this, the fifth man became very happy. He fell on the feet of the wise man and thanked him for his help.

The sixth man was not happy with the solution. He told the wise man 'You are cheating us. How come you are counting ten, when we count we get only nine?" The wise man then adapted a new method. He said that he will beat each one of them with a stick and when beaten they should shout once. He asked everyone to count the sound. All of them counted ten. Having done this, the sixth man became very happy. He fell on the feet of the wise man and thanked him for his help.

The seventh man however wanted more explanation and said, "Ok you have proved that there are ten of us here. Please explain to me who was the missing tenth man" The wise man explained, "You did not count yourself". The seventh man said "Oh! Now I understand! I am the tenth man!" The wise man replied, "I am not sure whether you have understood!" Nevertheless, the seventh man became very happy. He fell on the feet of the wise man and thanked him for his help.

The Eighth man wanted to verify the whole thing again and when he was counting, he counted 7 pointing the seventh man. Immediately the seventh man protested. "I am the tenth man! Why are you counting me as 7?" The wise man had to interrupt and for resolving the debate.

Seeing this commotion, the Second man got up and said, "I told this (wise) man not to waste our time. What has happened has happened. No one can do anything about this. He did some miracle and made us believe that the tenth man is found. We have in fact lost the tenth man. Let us not waste any more time on this." The First man agreed and said "Life is like that. Let us get on with our journey."

The Ninth men who earlier thought he understood after hearing this conversation said, "So the tenth man was never missing. You did not find him for us. Even if we were to get on with our journey all of us, whether nine or ten, would have reached the village safely. I agree with the First and Second men. You did not help us at all." Do not waste our time anymore.

So all of them (some of them half-heartedly) requested the wise man to leave them alone so that they can continue their journey. Therefore, the wise man bid them farewell.

The Tenth man before walking with his friends went close to the wise man on the pretext of bidding farewell and said, "Thanks teacher. I understand you. You have taught me the truth. I am the tenth man and I did not know this. But for your guidance I would have never learned this. Let us continue our journey. When the misfortune (!) strikes us again I will try and teach our friends what you were trying to teach them"

The wise man walked away without being sad (that he could not teach 9 of them) or happy (that at least one learned the truth) about his performance; for he knows one day or other all the remaining nine will learn the truth. He is also aware that the tenth man alone was matured enough to learn the truth and he would have learnt it anyway from some other wise man if he had not met him.

Analysis of the story:

After crossing the river suddenly, a misfortune struck the travelers. Let us analyze the cause of the misfortune, how it is resolved into perfect satisfaction/ happiness in the mind of the Tenth man.

There are seven stages in the process. It is very rare that a person progress through all the seven stages and reach the ultimate salvation within one lifetime. More often than not there will be a slip and people will continue to be miserable. One who is persistent and consistent with a matured mind alone can cross all the stages to reach the final stage.

Ignorance: Although each one of them is the TENTH MAN, they counted only nine of them. Each one is ignorant since they do not know that they should count themselves. They are wise enough to count correctly although they miss out the self. If they do not even have this wisdom, they will be blissfully ignorant even if they had really lost a person while crossing the river. They are wise enough to comprehend that they are supposed to count ten and one is missing. Hence, this half-baked wisdom is the root cause of the suffering. (Total ignorance is bliss.)

Statement 5: Partial knowledge and partial ignorance is the problem

Specifying the ignorance: The tenth man (each one of them) saying 'I could count only nine. Therefore, the tenth man is missing. Since I cannot see him, he is not here.' This is the second stage after ignorance. Animals also may find one missing but they may not express the situation like this. Therefore, with respect to animals this half-baked wisdom will not mature into prolonged suffering. The ability to specify the ignorance results in suffering.

Statement 6: Specifying the ignorance is the next stage.

Suffering: Since the tenth person is missing, each one assumes that he is drowned in the river. Therefore, they are crying at their misfortune. The result of their ignorance has caused them this misfortune.

Statement 7: Suffering results from ignorance

This is the most difficult stage among all the seven stage because people are under the assumption that they are suffering because the tenth man is missing and not because that they are ignorant. Only when they realize that the ignorance is the cause of their suffering they will cross this stage.

Indirect Knowledge: The wise passerby says 'The tenth man is alive and is here'. The moment the tenth man hears this he realizes that the tenth man exists (somewhere!). This is the indirect knowledge. Indirect knowledge is gained when one gets to know the truth from a wise person. It is essential that the teacher should be wise and the student should have strong desire to learn and absolute trust in the teacher. If any one of these three factors is absent then it is not possible to gain the indirect knowledge.

Statement 8: The first step towards the absolute knowledge is Indirect Knowledge.

Direct Knowledge: When the wise man clarifies "you are the tenth man" and after deep enquiry if one finds out that he is the tenth man, he gains the direct knowledge. Direct knowledge is gained when one enquires and reflects on the indirect knowledge. Gaining indirect knowledge is comparatively easy. One has to work extensively to gain the direct knowledge. Indirect knowledge can be overthrown by another indirect knowledge. However, once the Direct Knowledge is gained it will not leave us.

Statement 9: Conversion of information to knowledge is Direct Knowledge

Removal of suffering: Because of the direct knowledge, he stops suffering. It takes a while for him to remain in this stage without any suffering before he moves on to the next stage of perfect satisfaction. Both the physical and mental sufferings do not cease on the instant of gaining the direct knowledge.

Statement 10: The effect of Direct Knowledge is removal of suffering

Perfect satisfaction: Soon after removal of the suffering, he starts rejoicing. He enjoys the mere presence of himself since he is the 'missing' tenth man. Whatever is the situation or the environment he rejoices his own presence.

Example: A father after a long struggle arranges the marriage of his daughter. There is a perfect satisfaction in his mind about his achievement. While conducting the wedding he may come across many situations, some of them pleasant and some of them not so pleasant. Nevertheless, in and through every experience he has perfect satisfaction that he has successfully completed his own long pending duty.

Similarly, the tenth man will remain in perfect satisfaction that he has found the tenth man. He will enjoy his meal more. Supposing as he walks a thorn pokes the leg he will stop and remove it from the foot. Although it is painful, this experience is ignored since he is immersed in the thought that he has found the tenth man.
Thus, the 'enlightened' tenth man will live joyfully.

Statement 11: The final stage is perfect satisfaction (Joyful Living)

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