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10: Escape

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One evening we heard a lot of shouting going on and search lights from the four towers of the prison were streaming across the sky. We heard the sound of running footsteps, boots and screams. Then we saw some shadowy figures on the wall near us and we heard someone falling on our roof. Obviously a chase was going on. At last the poor victim was caught and severely punished by the Japanese.

How could he (He, a white person, think he could escape from a prison set amongst the black population of the town? What made him take this mad risk? We were all hoping and praying that he would succeed, but we were helpless, locked up in our cell.

We all started to think about "escape." Can we in this life escape anything, or is it madness to try to escape inevitable fact? We are all prisoners in this life on earth, we all face death sooner or later. Can we escape death? All the physical exercises in the world will not ward off death in the end. it in just an illusion in which we like to drown ourselves. Why not look at the examples of the lives of Saints who tackled death in another way: by accepting this great moment-to-come, they prepared and overcame it through faith. They got hold of true life instead of vanity and found the way of overcoming death through life. There is a spiritual light in their old faces instead of the ironed-out masks of the faces of so many modern people, who try to achieve this by plastic surgery and other artificial means. There is holiness and character in Saints' faces expressing the touching of their souls with an Eternal quality, instead of chocolate-box film star looks. Are we not all escaping from the truth, merely preferring to live in fool's paradises instead of in the reality that life on earth is as short as grass: here today, gone tomorrow? Do we face up to the fact that this earth is a huge grave-yard and we are the people living in the shadow of death, in the valley of darkness? Our hope surely lies beyond the grave, because that life is Eternal and so the meaning of life here must be to prepare for an Eternal Life.

No child will say to you that the meaning of life on earth in to go to school, because he or she realizes that school-time is a preparation for the time after school. Surely this earthly existence, being so short, is-a preparation and a test for the time afterwards? We take care of so many earthly insurances; what about our Eternal Insurance?

Some people in our prison mentioned the idea of reincarnation of human beings, and the notion that we can improve ourselves through many lives. Has humanity got better over the years? Are there more Saints today than in the past? It is like lifting oneself by one's own boot strings. If we do not remember past lives, how can we benefit from the lessons in those lives? How terrible it would be if reincarnation destroyed all relationships of love. The one who in my mother in this life, I will never meet again, according to the doctrine of reincarnation, because she will be someone else in another life. The joy of meeting up and being re-united with loved ones is taken away by reincarnation. In this doctrine, there in no need for God to come to the help of mankind. There is no need for grace.

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