Friday, August 22, 2014

Leap of Faith

King Milinda was a Indo-Greek ruler who established a large empire in South Asia.  Born in the Caucasus, he was initially a king of Bactria. He eventually established an empire in the Indian subcontinent stretching from the Kabul River valley in what is now Afghanistan eastward to the Ravi River.  

King Milinda was a patron of Buddhism, and his conversations with the Buddhist sage Nagasena are recorded in the text The Questions of King Milinda.  One question concerned the nature of faith, and Nagasena answered with a parable: 
"Suppose that a great cloud were to burst over a hill slope. The water then would flow down the slope, would first fill all the hill's clefts, fissures, and gullies, and would then run into the river below, making its bank overflow on both sides. Now suppose further that a great crowd of people had come along, and unable to size up either the width or the depth of the river, should stand frightened and hesitating on the bank. But then some man would come along, who, conscious of his own strength and power, would take a step back and then leap across the river. And the great crowd of people, seeing him on the other side, would cross likewise." 
 The backward step, the retreat and refuge before the great leap forward.

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