The Fourth Magus
(by Sain Sucha)
The three of them had come out of the O’Learys and rushed to my cab. One settled on the front seat and the other two disappeared in the back.
“Follow that star!” said the one wearing a yellow shroud.
“Which one?” I asked.
“The blinking one, moving towards the north,” said the one who carried an Afro on his head, and pointed upwards.
“It is not a star. It is an aeroplane on its way to Arlanda airport,” I replied.
“Never mind that, follow it anyway!” came the command from the bearded one.
I started the cab, put the meter on and took the road to Arlanda.
“How far is it to this airport?”
“About forty kilometres.”
Thereafter silence prevailed.
They appeared to be rather confused about their destination, so I enquired: “What are you chasing?”
“A belief, hoping to see it turn into reality!” replied the Shroud, and added, “I am called Magus G.”
“Nice to meet you Mr. Magus!” I replied.
“Beside you is Magus M and behind you is sitting Magus B,” Magus G completed the introduction.
“You don’t look like brothers, or even related?” I could not hold my curiosity.
“But we are, we are brothers in deeds; if not by blood,” said Magus M.
“And what deeds are they? Taking a sip in O’Learys and following fake stars?” I wish I could hold my tongue, but people rushing into my cab and telling me to “Follow that …” were not among my favourites. This was Stockholm not New York.
“Well, we want to be there when He arrives,” replied the bearded Magus.
“The one we are all waiting for,” said Magus B enthusiastically.
“I am not waiting for anyone other than those who come into my cab, pay their bills at their destination and leave quietly,” I elucidated my position.
“No, no, no! We are not looking for any ordinary being. We are searching for the one who would remove all evil in this world and take us to our home.”
“Evil I know nothing of, but taking you home is no problem. That is what I do…. I mean professionally! Where is your home?”
Magus M in the front seat looked at the other two, then at me and said: “Mister, a taxi driver you might be but you look more lost than anyone we have met lately. Haven’t you heard of the great men who prophesied the coming of the greater one who would fulfil their promises?”
“All the great men I know who prophesied the coming of another one in the future were those who messed up things in their own time and took refuge behind a figure that would accomplish the feats that they had expected to do themselves.” I commented and then asked, “By the way, what does the B, G and M stands for in your names?”
“You don’t want to know them!”
“Why not?” I persisted
“You will end up ironing your tongue by the time you utter them correctly!”
I thought better of it and deleted the question from my list, and continued the journey.
We had just passed Kista and were nearing Sollentuna, when Magus B behind me saw the sign for McDonald’s and instructed me to get down there.
“Great men are seldom in a hurry, so there is no need for us to haste either. A little food for the stomach might stimulate the mind for better thinking,” was the assertion by him.
The other two seem to agree with him. As I parked the taxi I informed them, “The meter keeps running while you look after your stomach and your mind.”
“No problem! I hope you accept Master’s Card,” Magus M asked me
“You mean MASTERCARD, issued by a bank?” I was not taking any chances. People with their masters lurking in the distant past or expected in some unspecified future gave me creeps.
“Yes man, yes!” affirmed the Afro bearer, and added “Do you want something to keep you running?”
“A Mcfeast would do nicely, and a cup of coffee,” I was beginning to like Magus G.
“Why don’t you come in as well and give us company?” he asked me.
“With the meter running!”
We found an empty corner in the back of the large restaurant in Akalla. Magus G and B went away to purchase the food while I sat next to Magus M.
“The last time I heard about the three Magi it was referred to a period some two thousand years ago,” I very carefully probed Magus M in a friendly tone.
“That’s it – we are the same.” He replied me confidently.
“Magi from year 0001?”
“Yes, haven’t you heard of intellectual cloning?” he stared at me.
“You mean a sort of intellectual re-cycling with one’s thoughts retained at the level of an alleged original donor?”
“Of course, we have been doing it for centuries. Year after year, and batches after batches of infants who, from the moment of their birth, have their grey matter programmed after total deletion of what nature might have put on their hard discs … I mean brains. Later on, you could show them whatever you like, teach them whatever you can and nothing goes in. We like to remain there where it all started. Neither the change in time nor any sort of so called progress is relevant to us. We have batches that are affixed to the era 1500 BC, era 0030 and 0700. Each of them equally confident of their truth and totally oblivious to any change that time may incur. Thou shall not learn, knowledge is thy enemy, is our motto.”
The other two Magi returned with overloaded trays and placed the burgers on the table.
“I could see that you have been briefing him!” said G to M.
Magus M eyed me suspiciously and said, “I have tried but he appears to be one of those freaks who is resistant to our coaching. Well, well! What do we have here?”
Then, with a voracity that I would never have associated with an Indian Guru he attacked the burgers with his grinders, while he shook his head in some pleasant anticipation. I hoped that it wasn’t my programming he planned. To avert his strike I decided to ask him some simple questions.
“Are you telling me that you believe that all that could be thought by a human being today has already been conceived several centuries ago?”
They nodded in affirmation, and then added, “We have a long list of A & Qs – answers and questions – that covers everything.”
“You meant a list of questions and answers?”
“No, no! Answers and questions he said. We have all the answers and it is up to you to formulate the correct questions!” Magus B smiled maliciously.
“And what happens if I ask a question that is outside the limits of your answers?”
“There is no proper question that is outside such limits.”
“Let us talk about an improper hypothetical question.”
“That would be blasphemy and ….. and that is never treated kindly!”
We were back on square one. Sitting with those three clones in the back corner of a restaurant made me feel uneasy.
“The meter is still running. It is 6.35 kronor per minute, in case you are curious.” I informed.
“That does not matter. We have Visa and American Express too.”
“With appropriate expiry date as well as coverage in an acceptable currency?”
They nodded again in affirmative, but for some strange reason I remained doubtful about the validity of their credentials.
“Could I ask you to participate in a simple experiment?” I enquired.
They looked at me with alarm and then Magus G said, “It is we who do the necessary programming.”
“No, nothing like that. I just want to ask you some simple questions.”
After a moment of hesitation they looked at one another, and Mr. Afro said: “OK!”
“Just close you eyes and concentrate upon my question and then answer it one by one.” I instructed them.
Their suspicion grew. They took off their watches and rings, put them in the inner pockets, closed the buttons of their jackets and moved closer to each other. “You are not thinking of giving us a slip?” asked Magus M.
“Not before you pay my bill,” I gave an honest answer.
“Wait,” said the one with South Asian look, “I have to cross my legs in the lotus position before I do any thinking.” With that he removed his shoes and put his feet up on the chair. They closed their eyes and waited for my question.
“Describe me your great-grandfather – how he looked, how he lived and what more you know about him?”
“Know nothing about him,” said Magus M.
“Never heard of him from my parents,” answered Magus B.
Magus G took a bit longer and replied, “No, not much. My grandfather mentioned him once while he shivered severely at the same time. That stopped me from asking him any more questions.”
“Alright, then tell me what he knew about you – they way you live, where you live now and what are your needs?”
“Not much I guess. He could probably …” Magus M replied first again.
“No, no guessing. I want you to describe what he knew!” I cut him short.
Magus M shrugged his shoulder and kept quiet.
Magus B shook his head in negative.
And Magus G was not any better.
“OK, one more question. Tell me what you know about your great-grandchildren – how they would live, where and what would be their needs?”
“What kind of silly questions are these? How could I know what would happen after sixty or seventy years! The way things change nowadays one does not even know about tomorrow, and you are adamant to find out what we know about things to happen after decades,” Magus M was now annoyed.
“Good! If you concede that your great-grandfather, who probably lived only a century ago, knew nothing about you, and you know nothing about him; and you also concede that you do not have the ability to see things happening in a century ahead from now, then how come you believe that some person or persons many centuries ago could know all about you and determine your mode of life today – the way you should think, perform rituals and rites, treat other people and so on?”
“Mr. Taxi Driver! You are a trouble maker. You are asking us to think independently. That is not permissible.” Magus G asserted.
“You set a trap for us! What kind of taxi driver are you mister?” asked Magus B.
“The ordinary sort. I fetch people when they need me and take them to their destination,” I replied calmly.
“And what else do you do?” He continued.
“You l-e-a-r-n! From whom and what is it that you learn?” this time more than curiosity, suspicion crept into his eyes.
“Learn from anyone, anywhere and whatever you can, is my motto. In my job I meet fifteen to twenty persons every day, six days a week and forty-eight weeks a year. That would make it above five thousand persons a year. Multiply it with thirty-four and you have about two hundred thousand teachers that I have had only in my job.”
Add fear to curiosity and suspicion, and that is the look they had on their faces!
“And what have you learnt?” This time it was Magus G who addressed me.
“I have learnt more than anything else that most of the people go around with beliefs in their heads of which they have no notion where did they get them from, the origin of those beliefs and the validity of their contents. People carry beliefs about their religion, other people, races, ethnicity and habits without any authenticity of those beliefs. I have also learnt that most of the beliefs held by people are those which give them some sort of protective shield against fears, real or imagined, that require practical effort to verify their truthfulness.”
“But we must have beliefs to make life possible. Learning is a very slow process. And while we gather the so called knowledge we must have something to believe upon to go on functioning,” asserted Magus B and the other two Magi nodded in his support.
“So very true!” I agreed and added, “But each belief that we hold must be weighed against the new things that we discover or thoughts that emerge during our progress in life …”
“Progress!” this time Magus B cut me short and said, “All progress is just an illusion. Nothing ever changes! All that we see is maya – a deception for the eye or for the mind – if you prefer it that way. It is just a re-arrangement of the basic stuff, atoms or sub-atoms in the scientific language, and that is it.” Magus B was adamant.
“Then how come you are looking for the one who would remove all the evil in this world and take you to your home? If everything is merely an illusion for the mind then why differentiate between good and evil, pleasure and pain, right or wrong; and more than anything else this home and that home?”
That caught him under the belt. Stark pain broke out on his face. Seeing him unsteady Magus B came to his help.
“But He knows the truth behind everything!” said Magus B.
“What truth. If everything is continuously in a state of change and only an illusion for the mind, maya as you call it, then there can not be any static truths. What you call as a truth must be applicable to a state of affairs only and only when observed. Once you stop observing you can not be sure, that is to know, that it is still in the same state. Therefore all truths are transient truths! And the so called truths determined by our ancestors, holy or profane, were applicable only and only then. They could never have known how things would be after them, and surely not centuries after them. Thus, each of us is obliged to verify our truths, or beliefs, at all occasions in our existence. I agree that verifying each truth individually is practically impossible, and that is why we have common knowledge and common sense to help each other go through existence. But as it follows, common knowledge and common sense is always open to scrutiny and verification; and, therefore, adjustable and when appropriate replaceable.”
The conversation was becoming heavy. The three Magi looked burdened by their own convictions and the added wait of scepticism I had placed on their heads.
“Are you suggesting that we should discard all our beliefs and function under only that we know?” asked Magus M.
“No, not that. I am suggesting that we should scrutinise all our beliefs under the light of new knowledge that we gain through our search and research, and discard all the blind beliefs that we hold because it is comfortable for us to hold them, and because they offer us a false sense of security in this world or in some imagined next one. We must not thrive upon mendacity!”
“And what about our ancestors and the knowledge that they have given us, and all the beliefs that make us function in our existence?”
“We should be grateful to our ancestors for their contribution in human knowledge and for providing us with a configuration of beliefs that help us go through life; but, none of that should be taken as permanent and irreversible if in the coming times their relevance or authenticity becomes doubtful. We must be prepared to accept changes in our knowledge, beliefs, tenets, rituals and culture with the passage of time, and suggest new ones in their place for their appropriateness.”
Suddenly everything stood still. Four of us sat there in complete silence and tried to sort out our thoughts.
“What about us calling you as Magus TD?” asked me Magus M.
“Only if you give up mere believing in favour of scepticism and research, and join me in our search for knowledge!” was my answer, and I added “And after you have paid my bill!”