The Righteous Path

When the child was seven, he was taken into a temple by his elders and the path of righteousness was unfolded in front of him. He was told to never give in to what he might feel, to never stray, however strong the urge.

He was taught to be ashamed of his body, to cleanse it as a horrible obligation, with his eyes closed so as to never catch sight of his own sinful beauty. He was taught to abhor other people as tempters. He was told to talk to them merely for functionality’s sake.

His food was tasteless, his only drink was water. He slept on the floor, even in winter. His only thoughts were for his path.

He had been told that when he was thirty, he would have come far enough along the path to deserve an explanation. He was therefore given it, in the same temple.

The explanation was not an adequate one. It made him want to cry. He put his hand to his chest, to rip off his robe. But then he saw all the aged eyes trained on him, expectant, waiting for him to respond. He let go of the robe, and he gave them a tender smile.