‘The myth of Sisyphus’ by Albert Camus, is the story of Sisyphus, a mean king of Corinth who was punished for all eternity by the Gods. Sisyphus was given the punishment of taking a huge rock and carrying it on his shoulders, and climbing a dangerous mountain. The Gods give him some respite and from time to time allow him to put the rock down and push it up the mountain than carrying it. Sisyphus even thinks of the outcome if he tries to put the rock down and rest for a while, thinking that the Gods might not be watching him. But again he remembers the fate of Prometheus.
Sisyphus even knows that the Gods can be merciless and they might even ask him to take up the more difficult path up the mountain than the easier one.Sisyphus totally drenched in sweat, continues with his task of pushing the rock until he reaches the peak of the mountain. But his hands become slippery and the rock slips out of his hands and falls down the mountain. Sisyphus goes down the mountain which is much easier and again carries the rock and starts uphill. This keeps on repeating a number of times, he even trips and falls and hurts himself, but again he gets up and starts on his task, he even wonders many times if the Gods are making him trip and fall.
Even after all these falls, he survives and starts climbing the mountain again carrying the boulder on his shoulders. He falls again, and this time he notices an old man along the path downhill. The old man asks Sisyphus to carry him down the mountain, as he carries the boulder.The Myth of SisyphusThe old man pleads with Sisyphus, asking him to carry him down the mountain, as he is unable to go down because of his age and weakness. But Sisyphus asks the old man, why he should carry him, as he already has his own burden, and that it is this moment of respite he has been waiting for to go downhill and get some breath.
The old man again reasons with Sisyphus that if he carries him down the Gods might see the humane side of Sisyphus, and do him some good. This reasoning appeals to Sisyphus and he carries the old man on his shoulders and takes him down the mountain, even though it was a bit difficult. The old man gives his blessings to Sisyphus, and says something about ‘good karma’ and leaves. Sisyphus instead of feeling exhausted, feels fresh and full of energy, and takes the boulder and starts climbing the mountain with more determination and surety that he is going to achieve his task. This time as he reaches the top, the boulder again feels slippery, but he is able to resist the boulder’s fall, and puts it on the top.Sisyphus sits on the mountain to take some rest, he finds a pond nearby and quenches his thirst and cools himself. He than rests under the shade of a tree and goes to sleep. He wakes up after a long time and feels very refreshed, he marvels the mountain and its scenery and dreams of building a house on the mountain, and having the boulder as a basis, and living here all his life.
With all these refreshing thoughts, he goes down the mountain with much eagerness. This story tells us that if a person helps the needy, than he is rewarded with an equal amount of joy, and all the tasks that seemed difficult and impossible to him earlier, become much easier and simpler to him. This is nothing but the ‘good karma’ of a person, if he is good, his future will be bright.References Sámanera Bodhesako, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus: A Cycle’, Dhamma Page,Retrieved 9 October 2007, http://www.geocities.com/athens/9366/sisyph1.htm