The pilgrim trudged on with great effort. The toil of the journey, the vagaries of the weather and the sheer longevity of the pilgrimage had scarred not only his body but his inner resolve as well. The only thing that had kept him on the path was the desire: the desire to accomplish his goal. As he continued, his steps became heavy, his mind became clouded and his legs became numb. But, he continued on… At last, his goal was in sight. However, his mind was unable to comprehend the near-accomplishment of his goal, his body was too weak to jump in joy at the sight of the holy place and his feet were too tired to move forward to reach his destination. He fell down prostrate, and all his life’s journey passed in a flashback before his eyes.

When he had decided to embark on the pilgrimage to attain salvation, his resolution was too strong to permit any thoughts of failing in his endeavour. The journey surely seemed difficult but not impossible. As he passed through the desert, his perseverance was tested. The hot desert sun tried to dry up his grit and determination just like it had destroyed all the vegetation and foliage in the barren surroundings. The pilgrim had illusions of ponds of water but when he reached them, he seldom found drops of life. As his hopes were about to evaporate, he discovered water which enabled him to cross the desert.

The next stage of his journey was through a forest. The sight of green trees and abundant water overjoyed the pilgrim as he felt relief in the fact that he would face little difficulty in procuring nourishment. However, his happiness was short-lived as he soon discovered threats to his life in the form of lions, insects and alligators. He barely escaped from the attacks of bears, jackals and hyenas. For many days and nights, he walked through the jungle with no end in sight. At times, he felt that he was treading the same paths again and again and had little knowledge of his whereabouts. After many days of drudgery, he finally reached the high mountains where the shrine was situated.

The rough terrain wounded his feet and the uphill journey drained out his energy. The perception that he was very near to his destination motivated him to keep going forward. And he plodded on.

At last, he fell down…

As he lay on the ground, he wondered whether he had actually seen the shrine. Would he be able to complete his journey? If not, would he attain salvation? And thoughts like these kept on passing through his subconscious mind.

Alas! What he never realized was the fact that the existence of the shrine was itself a delusion. The journey to attain salvation was itself a fruitless exercise.

Tushar is a guest author for LSD.