Monday, December 10, 2007

A small story

Three men sat before a great teacher, a wise man who knew many secrets both esoteric and mundane. He was rumored to have guided dozens of students to enlightenment. The three men had come separately the great distance with great hardship. They came to seek admission to the wise man's school, where he taught people and helped guide them to greater wisdom.

The great teacher sat down before them and apologized for them coming so far up his distant mountain. He explained that he only had a single opening at his school. He would take one of the men on as his student, but only after they passed an interview to demonstrate who was most worthy.

The teacher was very grave when he asked the men: "What do you know about being enlightened?"

The first man pulled out a list of teachers and schools he had been a part of. "I, great teacher, have been to numerous schools and taken the teaching they provided. All were great teachers, but none as great as you. When I exhausted their supply of knowledge, I moved on, and so I have amassed a great amount of ability and wisdom. I come recommended very highly from all of them. I have been working at enlightenment every day, and I have a strong belief in what it takes to be enlightened."

The second man interrupted the first. "Do not listen to him. Great teacher, you want to take me! I have been to no teacher, but I sought you because you are the greatest of all teachers. This man has been spoiled by too many schools and too many ideas. I have a beginner's mind that you are free to mold as you will. If you accept me, I will devote myself only to your teaching."

The two men then argued back and forth about who would be best to accept. The wise man watched for several minutes. Then he spoke. "Silence." And there was silence.

The wise man turned to the third man, who had been sitting quietly drinking the tea the wise man had offered all three men when they arrived. "What do you know about being enlightened?"

The third man thought. He had been to some schools, but he had found them confusing and obscure. He had heard of the wise man's power, and had decided when he was down in the verdant valley to come and seek enlightenment from this teacher above all others. Yet, both men had better answers than he and the voyage had been longer and harder than he had expected.

"I don't know," he answered. "I thought I knew, but climbing everything fell down the mountain. Now I'm not sure what I know about enlightenment, and I'm not sure if what I used to know is correct or not. So I'm afraid I can't answer your question."

The other two travelers laughed at his answer. The wise man nodded and then looked to the other two men. "This man here is closer to enlightenment than you might ever be." And the wise man took the third man into his home and the man became part of the school seeking enlightenment.

4 comments:

nick said...

Have you ever wondered why you have to climb a mountain to become enlightened? Why does being enlightened mean being removed from society? Is there no path to enlightment when among normal people? Does attaining enlightment mean you can no longer function as a member of society?

Literary Rock Star said...

Perhaps, but its easier to focus on a singular goal when removed from the hustle and bustle of people who don't particularly care and are inundated with distractions.

Remember, groups evolve fastest when they are removed and isolated. The same is true for individuals and individual growth. Unless your problems are social problems, in which case you might do well to dive into society at large.

Enlightenment is what you make of it. It's traditionally isolated. I personally believe that enlightenment must be sought alone and then brought out into society once you've found it. In the end, only an individual can make the individual step to become an enlightened individual.

Collectivism vs. individuality. You've been in Asia too long, and I'm a child of the West.

J Morgetron said...

Knowing that you know nothing is being enlightened?

Literary Rock Star said...

Knowing that there's no way of knowing is a good step towards it, I think. It's a story. Read into it what you will. Lol. I don't have it as an abject lesson in how to be enlightened. It's just an opinion, like any other.

There's more than one path to enlightenment, if you even bother to care to seek it. Enlightenment isn't the end all, be all of existence, necessarily.