Weekend Story- The Wisdom Of The Moutain
February 5, 2023
In ancient China, atop a mountain stood a temple where an enlightened zen master lived. Amongst his many disciples, there was one committed disciple named Lao-Li, who was very bright and ambitious. Lao-li wanted to attain enlightenment.
Years passed in diligent study under the Master, but Lao-li knew that the wisdom of life was nowhere within his grasp. Then, one day, the sight of a falling cherry blossom triggered deep thought in Lao-Li. “I must no longer fight my destiny,” he reflected. “The falling cherry blossom is sending me a message. I don’t think I can attain the enlightenment I seek. So I must gracefully give up my pursuit.”
With that thought crystalizing in his mind, Lao-Li went looking for his Master to inform him of his decision and retreat down the mountain. The Master was in his chambers meditating. Reverently, Lao-li approached his Master and waited for him to come out of his meditation.
“Enlightened one,” he started as soon as the Master woke up. But before he could say anything further, the Master smiled and said, “Tomorrow, I will join you on your journey down the mountain.” Nothing more needed to be said. The great Master understood.
The following day, as they started their journey down from the mountaintop, the wise Master looked out into the majestic mountains and asked, “Tell me, Lao-li, what do you see?”
“Master, I see the sun waking up from below the horizon. I see the vast expanse of meandering hills and mountains. And couched in the valley below, I see a lake next to a village.”
The Master smiled enigmatically and did not say anything. Both of them then took started descending the mountain path purposefully.
The trek down the mountain was arduous, and they spent the entire day coming down carefully, stopping only once they reached the foothills of the mountain.
As they were resting, the Master again asked Lao-li to tell him what he saw.
“O wise one,” Lao Li responded, “in the distance, I see roosters walking about the hay stacks in the village. I see cows resting under the trees in the village square. And I see farmers working the fields and children prancing in the lake waters.”
This time too, the Master kept silent.
Coming down the foothills, the two of them continued to walk until they reached the edge of the village, where a large banyan tree had a platform at its base. The Master gestured to Lao-Li, and they decided to rest for some time under the tree.
Again the Master asked- “What did you learn today, Lao-li? Perhaps this may be the last wisdom I will impart to you.”
Lao-Li could not think of anything more to say. The silence was his response.
At last, after a long silence, the wise Master spoke up. “My dear Lao-Li, the road to enlightenment is like our journey down the mountain. It comes only to those who realize that what one sees at the top of the mountain is not what one sees at the bottom. Without this wisdom, our mind is closed to all that we cannot see from our position, limiting our capacity to grow and improve. However, with this wisdom comes awakening- our mind opens up to break through our limiting beliefs and prejudices. We learn to recognize that there is a lot we do not see immediately, but it will come to us later. Never forget this last lesson, Lao-li-what you cannot see at first can be seen from a different part of the mountain.”
When the Master stopped speaking, Lao-li looked at the horizon and saw the setting sun. Ironically, as the sun was setting, a new light arose in his heart-A light of enlightenment engulfed him.
Lao-li turned toward the Master behind him, but the great one was nowhere to be seen. Lao-li was enlightened !!