Though a mass of gray was moving in across the northwest sky, the sun was still shining. As he ambled down the shrubby slope to the beachfront below, the man felt a chilly breeze coming through the trees. He turned up his collar and made his way more quickly to the little boat dock, with its slats of soggy old wood.
"Boatman! Take me across!"
"Yessir climb aboard!"
Professor Perkins wasn't what you'd call an old man graying, to be sure; but still sprightly, even athletic-looking. In the subcontinent's academic circles, he had long been a man to watch. There was perhaps no one who could match his fertile wit, his sweeping command and instant recall in practically every field of higher learning.
The boatman had seen better days (not that they'd really been much better, of course). His body bent from thousands of hours' paddling in the sun, he was carrying on to keep his family fed and a roof over their heads. As the scholar leaped lithely onto the deck and sat himself down beneath the hooped ,cabin roof, the boatman bowed from the waist. He recalled an old adage: a king is respected in his own realm, but a learned man is respected all over the world.
"Boatman," ,the scholar opened, "the water is becoming rather choppy. While you're out here have you ever thought about the relationship between total torque and crosscurrent impact?"
"No, sir, I can't say that I have."
"For one thing, a more streamlined apparatus should likely yield a greater mechanical advantage. But then, I don't suppose you've studied much about physics, have you?"
"None at all, sir. I just row this boat across the bay."
"Mmmm. Boatman, it appears that you've wasted twenty-five percent of your life."
A little later, the scholar asked, "Boatman, have you ever looked into statistics and probability? I'm thinking here of Gaussian or possibly Poisson distribution. With all these dark clouds coming in over us; do you have any idea what a graph of storm probability would look like?"
"No sir, I never have studied whatever it is you're talking about. I don't know what you mean."
"You mean you've never studied advanced mathematics? Ah, then, my dear fellow; you should know that you've surely wasted fifty percent of your life."
"You're probably right, sir. I just row this boat across the bay. By the way, there seems to be a big storm coming."
As the boat began to heave and the sky took on a dark glow, the scholar said, "Tell me, boatman, do you know anything about gauging deviations from the STP standard temperature and pressure to forecast wind velocity in a storm center?"
"I'm sorry, sir. I really don't."
"You're a bit dense, boatman, aren't you? Are you telling me that you've never learned anything about meteorology?"
"I guess I haven't, sir."
"Well, then, you've wasted a full seventy-five percent of your life! What do you have to say for yourself?!"
"I just row this boat across the bay say, hold on tight! It's really raining and blowing hard!"
Just then the boat capsized. While the boatman floated and readied himself to finish the crossing, the scholar flailed out from within his waterlogged suitcoat, as if to hook the sky with his umbrella handle.
"Sir! We'll have to swim the rest of the way!"
"But…I can't swim!"
"Then it looks as though you've wasted a hundred percent of your life!
Whatever else we may learn in our life's voyage, there's one thing we all need to know: how when death "capsizes" our material body to, cross safely to the spiritual world. So, while the West's technological science can make our voyage more comfortable, we need the East's spiritual science to make it successful.