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364. Lawrence of Arabia

Colonel Lawrence was an officer in the British Army who sympathized with the Arabs and fought to win Damascus for them. The British government did not honour his promise to the Arabs. It was a disappointment in his life. He died in a motorbike accident. There is an incident in his life which highlights human nature. Man has so many illusions. In the words of Adi Sankarachariar, Man lives in a web of illusions. He called it maya. He called upon man to shed maya and seek God. Without going into the spiritual truths of maya, we can safely say that Man lives by several illusions and he is passionately proud of some of them.

Lawrence, who came to be called 'Lawrence of Arabia', met in his own inner life one such illusion. It made him bitter. Man is fond of believing himself to be good. It is true he is good in his view, a selfish view. Even that apparent shallow goodness is on the surface. Lawrence was adored and revered by the Arabs as a god. They found him different from other British officers. Lawrence was humane. The Arabs would do anything if only Lawrence wanted it. They trusted him. They found him not taking advantage of them. He would not exercise his authority for his own personal benefit. In military campaigns, often questionable occasions arise. They are moments when one exhibits one's true character. One can selfishly go away from another who needs help or go out of one's way to help him. For the victim, that little help is a matter of life or death. Lawrence saved the life of an Arab thus.

After a while, the same Arab soldier was caught in a crime and was supposed to be shot. Lawrence had to do it. He shot the soldier and the soldier died. Seconds before Lawrence pulled the trigger, he saw in himself a trigger-happy soldier! It was the nature of the soldier. The weapon has the power to compel the man to use it. It also makes the man feel happy in using it as an instrument. Lawrence became sad, recognizing in himself the brute that enjoys killing. He was honest enough to speak it out. Under his shirt, Man is a brute. That is the naked truth of creation. He is made so. The Rishis who saw several such truths of human nature gave up life and retired to the forest. Sri Aurobindo desired to transform the brute in man. Mother saw the brute rearing its head and said, "I won't recommend this yoga to anyone."

story | by Dr. Radut