This is the third of four pieces written in writers' groups this week. Most weeks during school terms the Writers' Cafe meets on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. If you're in Newcastle Upon Tyne look it up and come write with us. All are welcome.
The prompt given for this related to the origin stories of different types of tea. But we were allowed to write about our favourite drink if we weren't so keen on tea. We were also allowed to be very liberal with the truth - origin stories being, after all is said and done, just stories.
What follows is what I wrote. Free written. With only one word crossed out on my page. I haven't changed a thing when typing it up except to alter the spelling of the drink. Adding an "h" somehow made it seem more spiritually appropriate.
The drink in this picture was real. An actual product. Sold as seen. And blessed by a priest. It's not the drink in the story. I was thinking of quite a few spiritual leaders, scams, and odd beliefs while writing including some products and people that friends of mine believe in and continue with undented belief even when contrary and sometimes conclusive evidence is given that the products don't work or the people are liars. The story uses the word "manifested." As I wrote that the image of Sai Baba came to mind. He's faked a lot of miracles through basic conjuring skills. That's been proved - and the evidence for his paedophilia is pretty damning too. But people still believe. Just as in this story. I thought of Millerites and Jehovah's Witnesses and other groups whose followers continue to follow even when the prophecies and "clear word of Scripture" goes wrong. I thought of spurious health claims and how we need to be a lot more careful with who and what we grant the assent of faith to. I did a lot of thinking in that ten, possibly fifteen minute writing period.
Guru was wise. Guru was just.
Guru could read your soul and work miracles.
Guru manifested gold dust and once caused the tigers to roar and retreat.
Guru convinced me in his smile, in the way he opened Scriptures. Or left them closed. His words were as much life as anything from Vedas or Christ.
So I moved to guru's commune, gave up my life of chasing the world. I lived alongside Guru. Or at least in the same town. I was hardly worthy to walk in his divine light footsteps.
Guru's blessing was sold to the world. We all knew the story. How as as child he had discovered his holy well, deep in the tunnel beneath his bed. Guru was guided by Lord Krishna himself to dig through his floor and the spirit of Lao Tzu lit his way; showed direction through the antediluvian passages to the spring.
Guru was enlightened in the drinking. God granted him a special gift. Later, Gautama led him in his earthly mission. To bring not only the word of spirit but the liquid nectar of spirit to all who would hear.
And so, three years before I followed him into the communal seclusion, Guru revealed Kalamah to the world. Drink each day and it would help purify you. Body. Mind. Soul. Spirit. It would detox you. And who knows? Perhaps, were it in the beneficent timing of God, you too would be enlightened. Just like Guru.
But Kalamah flowed from a single spring. It was scarce. It was costly.
In the commune we drank for free. One sip a day. And we praised Guru. Bowed to him. Our hope.
What remained was bottled. Sold. For a price befitting a product of such eternal value.
After five years in Guru's commune I advanced and was accepted into the inner sanctum. Into Guru's confidence. It was there I learned the secret of Kalamah. At last, Guru led me to the spring, the source of Kalamah.
I learned this: There was no spring. All there was were cartons of pear juice, bright red food colouring, and tinctures of liquorice and rosemary.
Initially I was disappointed. Until Guru showed me how God led him to sell Kalamah for the greater spiritual good. Guru showed me how precious his blessing was.
He was Guru. He was enlightened. How could I not believe?
All praise the wisdom of Guru. All drink from the spring. Find enlightenment.
Guru's blessing is the Light of the World.