Les histoires de Gopal, by Louis Moliné

Trans. Edith Deri
Paris: Editions Adyar, 1995. Pp. [vii] + [146] (71 double pages + [4]). Paper.

Les histoires de Gopal (The Stories of Gopal) center upon a disciple whose dialogues and parables illustrate a philosophical system embodying the concept of God, who exists universally and thus in the consciousness of human beings and in all animate and all inanimate objects; the basis for morality, the means of awakening consciousness in a world of illusion; and the realization of the self.

The format is a series of brief dialogues between Gopal, the disciple, and his Master. Often the Master's questions are subtle, returning Gopal to the concept that the world and all human experiences are illusion. Occasionally, familiar dialogues occur, such as the sequence in which the Master carries a young girl across the water.

Space and time seem nonexistent in some of the dialogues. If the Master asks Gopal to go for water to quench his thirst, Gopal does not question where he will find water in the desert but may become lost in time as well as space during his search. Eventually he finds his way back to the Master with the jug miraculously filled with fresh water. The margin between dream and reality is very thin here as elsewhere in the stories.

Occasionally rather than answers there are only rhetorical questions--the disciple must intuit the appropriate procedure. Unity of existence is never forgotten and serves as guide; it is stressed throughout the collection.

Although death is conceived as the real joy, the Master clarifies that the disciple needs to experience all of life—human love not excluded. Each is a part of the whole, including sinfulness, and must be confronted or even experienced. Even so, all is illusion, and unanswered questions may be the greatest source of learning for the reader.

-Mary Jane Newcomb

July 1997