The 2nd Encounter
It had been about half an hour since they had dinner. Jem was sitting in front of the TV with his feet up on the sofa, supposedly watching the news. Of course, while his eyes were gazing at the colorful screen of flickering images his mind was entirely on the stranger from the night before. He couldn’t stop thinking about the things they had spoken about, his mind was working like a computer constantly evaluating and re-evaluating it all.
In fact, he had been a little out of it all day. He couldn’t even give his class a full lesson; he had passed time engaging in debates with some of his students.
Even his colleagues had noticed his distraction and had concernedly asked him why he looked so down and whether he was sick.
Jem wasn’t the type to be distracted even when he was sick. No matter how exhausted and run down his body, his mind would always be fully alert and busily working on finding solutions to various questions.
Back in his day, Jem’s grandfather was a notable scholar of theology. While his father had stayed away from religion and exemplified the saying “scholars bear tyrants”, his mother was the complete opposite. Having been raised in such a conflicting and complicated environment in this regard, Jem had accumulated endless questions growing up!
At times he would seek the answers from religious sources, while at others he would consult various schools of philosophy. In any case, whichever path he took, soon enough he would encounter a pile of unanswerable questions. Unsatisfied, he would jump from one path to another. This was why he had majored in philosophy and, after completing his compulsory military duty, he had commenced his professional life as a high school philosophy teacher.
Oblivious of his title, however, he was completely aware that he was still a relentless student in search of reality. His passionate search for the truth had even led him to join a religious order a while after he had returned from his mandatory military service. Very fond of Jem, the sheikh of the order had told him he had an impressive capacity and that he would conquer the reality with the favor and blessing of the Divine in no time.
But after some time, Jem noticed that he had become even more confused. All they ever did in the order was read the prescribed prayers and abstain from certain bad habits. All well and good, but none of this answered his questions!
According to Jem’s understanding, a religious order was a system of deciphering one’s origin and finding their essence, rather than a good virtue club.
His mind was forever trying to find the answers for:
Where did I come from?
Why did I come?
Where am I going?
Who and what is the original being referred to as ‘I’?
Religion offered a simple explanation:
You came from God, He created you from nothing, your life here is a test, if you do good things He’ll admit you to His heaven, if you do bad things, then He’ll throw you into His hell.
This was pretty much the main theme of all religions.