Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Pilgrim and the Monk

The walk took four days and four nights with only the briefest of stops for food and rest. At last, exhausted, foot weary and immensely tired, he made his way up the ancient stone steps to the monasteries ornately carved doors.

The heavy doors swung open at a gentle touch. There, in the courtyard, 40 saffron robed monks sat chanting and swaying in unison. As he approached the group one of the monks stood up and took the travellers heavy back-pack.

Without a word the monk led the pilgrim to food, to water and finally a place to rest.

The traveller woke late the following day in a room that was calm and cool. The gentle song of native birds and the rustle of wind were all he could hear. He lay there soaking up the atmosphere and letting peace and contentment soak in to his bones.

It wasn’t until he sat up that he realised he was being watched.

“Good morning sleepy one”. The monk was calm, carefree and yet serious.

“Why have you come here?” The monk asked the question in a way that was inquisitive but not suspicious.

When he found his voice the traveller replied, “I have come because I think I was born for a purpose, a big purpose, and I’ve come for my mantra”

“I see,” the monk nodded and really did seem to see. “First you must understand why you are here.”

With these words the monk got up and glided out of the room leaving the pilgrim feeling confused.

“I told you why I’m here” he thinks. “I’m here because I know I was born for a greatness I can’t seem to find.”

At the end of his mat lay a neatly folded robe. With nothing else to do he donned the garments and went and sat with the other monks.

Within half an hour his legs were numb. After an hour he excused himself quietly and walked outside.

“I can see this is going to require patience and focus,” he told himself “and that’s good because those are two things I need to be great.”

After a week he could sit for two hours without needing to move his legs. After a month he could sit all day and could even chant some of the mantras. After six months he was in time with the monasteries rhythm; rising when the monks rose and sleeping when they slept.

“I must be getting close,” he thought “soon they will give me the secret – the key that will unlock my potential.”

After a year he awoke with the morning mantra already on his lips and the feeling that life was as it should be.

“Why are you here?” The monk was sitting peacefully at the end of his mat.

“I am here for my mantra master. I am here because I see that you have the key to unlock human potential and I would like that key.”

“I gave you your mantra the first time we spoke.” The monk observed the travellers reaction before continuing. “We have let you stay with us because you seemed determined to prove something to yourself. We know nothing of greatness. We are simple monks devoted to the path - the path life has given us. But for you, it is time for you to go and find your own path, and again I give you your mantra. ‘First I must understand why I am here.’ That is you mantra.”

With those words the monk turned and glided out of the room.

And the traveller treasured her words the rest of his great life.
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