Given this shared history between us, the words, "Those not seeking betterment of the spirit are nothing but simpletons," were no doubt a slap in K's face. As I've stated before, though, it was not my intent to tear down that which he'd worked so hard to build up. On the contrary, I wanted to see him to build it higher. Whether this led him to "the way," or whether it led him to nirvana did not concern me. I simply feared any abrupt swing in his worldview that would bring his interests into conflict with mine. In short, my words were purely self-serving.
"Those not seeking betterment of the spirit are nothing but simpletons."
I repeated these same words again, then watched to see their effect.
"A simpleton," he finally answered. "That's all that I am."
K came to a stop where he was. His eyes were cast downward. A chill ran through me. I feared I'd pushed him too far and braced myself for a backlash. However, I'd also noted the lack of any vitality in his voice. I wanted to read his eyes, but he didn't turn to face me. He slowly resumed walking.