As legend tells it, one day when Alexander the Great was at the height of his success "conquering the world" he happened upon a Hindu yogi sitting naked in the lotus position meditating. Having himself been educated by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, Alexander sought the wisdom of this exotic wise man.
"What are you doing," the inquisitive Alexander asked the yogi.
"Nothingness," responded the yogi. "What are you doing?"
"Conquering the world," replied the powerful hero.
Both thinking the other hopelessly deluded they can only laugh. One conquers the world, the other the self.
Thus sets forth the eternal dichotomy of the East and the West - the Yin and Yang of cultures. Alexander was raised on the tales of great Greek heroes whom given one life sought to achieve great deeds which define their lives. For Alexander conquering the world with a grand army was his Herculean task of accomplishment. The yogi on the other hand experienced a different hero, one whom lived many lives in an eternal cycle of births and deaths. In such a context individual lives are of little significance given the cosmic eternal cycle of rebirths. One conquers, the other transcends, the world.
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