Those and other experiments led Hamur to reflect: did the gods not respond because they refused to respond, or did they not respond because they did not exist?

He thought upon this long and hard, and at length he spoke to his good friend Aynak.

“How are we to know what the gods want of us, or if there are indeed any gods at all?” Hamur asked.

After thinking for some time, Aynak pointed to a bird in the distance, a desert hawk perched on a cliff. “Can you tell me what that bird is thinking?”

“It is hungry and wants to hunt,” Hamur replied.

“That is what you imagine it thinks, but do you know for sure?” Aynak said.

Hamur admitted that he did not.

“Can you be sure the bird is up there?” Aynak added.

“I see it with my own eyes,” was Hamur’s reply.

“I have often seen a rock, or even a lizard, that I fancied a bird, especially on a hot day when the mirages are strong,” replied Aynak.

This discussion led Hamur to a revelation. “I can react to what the hawk does, but I can never know what it is thinking or if it is real, at least not until it makes itself unambiguously known by perching on my arm.”

The question was not, and never had been, whether the gods were real or not. The answer was not, and never had been, about which god or gods to worship. They were all as birds, unknowable and possibly mirages. Hamur came to realize, sitting there, that to act as if there were no gods and to simply react to the depredations of life as they arose…that was true wisdom.

But it was not a complete thought, not yet. It was not yet the Hamurabash. It was simply the musing of two friends in the desert.

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