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The Old Man and His Bundle...

Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran
edited February 17 in Philosophy

In a Buddhist temple in the far east a Buddhist master was sitting in his room studying scriptures when there was a knock at the door. One of his disciples entered the room and made the unusual request to be excused from working meditation in the fields that afternoon. This monk was conscientious, hard working and the Master new(sic) immediately that his practise was deepening and that he was close to realising enlightenment. The Master excused the monk from his duties and told him to take a quiet contemplative walk in the hills close to their monastery.

The monk walked mindfully along the path that wound its way lazily up the hill. He felt at ease and a deep sense of peace. He felt the warm sun on his face, he heard the wind blowing the tall grasses, which made a beautiful rustling noise. Birds sang from the tree tops but he could sense something holding him back. Although he felt at peace he sensed he could go further in his training and that something lay beyond his current experience. He just wasn't sure how to get there.

He came to a long straight section of the path as it stretched out far ahead of him for a mile or more. A shape appeared on the horizon and it was slowly moving towards him. He stopped, unsure as to what it was. Soon he realised it was an old man carrying a large bundle of sticks on his back. He couldn't tell why but there was something different about this distant figure. The man seemed to move with sense of purpose and rhythm that he felt he had never seen before in another human being. The monk stood mesmerised as this man moved towards him getting closer and closer. The monk thought how rude he must appear standing staring at the man as he approached but whatever embarrassment he felt he could not move from that spot on the road.

By now the man was close and he walked up to the monk. The monk could see that he wore simple clothes, sweet(sic) poured from his brow with the toil of carrying these sticks in the hot sun. The man's face was wrinkled with age but he looked into this man's eyes and he could see there was a different quality about him. The man greeted him and they stared into each others eyes, for how long the monk could not quite be sure. The monk new(sic) that this man was wise and was fully enlightened. He asked him 'oh great sage how do i realise the truth? The old man smiled and replied 'just let go'. As soon as the man finished his sentence he opened his hand, releasing the rope which held his sticks. They fell to the ground with an almighty crash. On hearing this sound the monk saw the truth and was fully enlightened in that moment.

The monk rocked on his feet, taking in what he had just glimpsed and again it felt like some time had passed but how long he could not say. Soon he noticed that he and the man were still standing on the road looking at each other, the sticks strewn across the road behind the man's back. The monk regained his composure, then asked 'what now'. Again the old man smiled and replied 'just carry on'. He then bent down and with great composure and sense of purpose he collected the sticks up neatly, tied them in a beautiful knot and in one smooth effortless motion swung the bundle back up on to his back. Still smiling, he looked into the monks eyes, patted his arm gently and continued on his way.

The monk new(sic) then that the key to his practise was to really let go of his ideas and concepts of what was right and wrong. Now that he had done so he new(sic) that there was nothing special or not special about the future, he just had to carry on with his daily life continually letting go, practising and living fully in each moment.
-Paraphrased by Thane Lawrie

silverShoshineggsaviorFosdick

Comments

  • What a great story. B)

    Letting go of our bundle of mind sticks, which we beat ourselves or others with ... <3

    As a regular visitor to the hell realms, I bring all the sticks I can, even picking up logs stored in my eye along the way. Then I add to the Tantric bonfire used to roast HH Dalai Lucifer, the whole of Islam, 'The Young Pope' (available as a Netflix series) and the Unenlightened Buddhist heirarchy awaiting re-incarceration in an embryo ( good luck guys :p ) ...

    Ah yes the naughty corner - stuck on sticks? Skilful means? Dropping baby and bathwater? Did I get it wrong again? Tsk, tsk ... :3

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    That's a perfectly charming tale... <3

    It is the same story as that of HoTei, who carries a sack.
    In that tale, the disciple he meets, simply asks, "Master, what is Enlightenment?"
    HoTei says nothing, but merely places the sack on the ground, and nods, knowingly.
    Somewhat fazed and mildly bemused, the disciple, at a slight loss, then asks.
    "Yes...but....What then?!"

    HoTei merely picks up the sack, hauls it up on to his back, smiles benignly, nods, and carries on his way.

    Before Enlightenment, Fetch water, chop wood.
    After Enlightenment, sod, it, buy Manhattan apartment with all mod cons.
    It all the same, anyway.

    ;)

    BunksWill_Bakerlobster
  • ^^. Tee hee. I'll have what she is having ...

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    @federica said:
    That's a perfectly charming tale... <3

    It is the same story as that of HoTei, who carries a sack.
    In that tale, the disciple he meets, simply asks, "Master, what is Enlightenment?"
    HoTei says nothing, but merely places the sack on the ground, and nods, knowingly.
    Somewhat fazed and mildly bemused, the disciple, at a slight loss, then asks.
    "Yes...but....What then?!"

    HoTei merely picks up the sack, hauls it up on to his back, smiles benignly, nods, and carries on his way.

    Before Enlightenment, Fetch water, chop wood.
    After Enlightenment, sod, it, buy Manhattan apartment with all mod cons.
    It all the same, anyway.

    ;)

    -Yes, I believe that is probably the same story Thane Lawrie paraphrased. Agreed, chop wood and carry water, get enlightened, rinse and repeat...

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Just to be clear: chopping wood and carrying water is not guaranteed to get you enlightened. :p

    personShoshin
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Just to be clear: chopping wood and carrying water is not guaranteed to get you enlightened. :p

    -Chop wood, carry water, let go, chop wood, carry water, let go, chop wood, carry water let go...

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Just to be clear: chopping wood and carrying water is not guaranteed to get you enlightened. :p

    Yes.... but dropping them, does [en]lighten the load ;)

  • I love stories.

    @Will_Baker and @federica wonderful examples. My earliest forays in the land between childhood and developing adolescence was via what we might now call initiatory tales. That is where language and imagination becomes the map and exploration of meaning. Some of our greatest knowledge transfers are in the bundles of multiple story meanings we hand on to next generations ...

    In many ways we engage, empart and become the stories we follow. Resonating with the Buddha is a Way into a story ... that is a plan, template, tale end/constant beginning ... Once upon a time

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran
    edited February 21

    what is this chopping wood and carrying water you all speak of? I have never seen that anywhere but on this forum and everyone seems to know what it means....help =)

    And great story!

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    There is a Zen expression: "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."

    Tiggereggsavior
  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran
    edited February 21

    Does that saying mean whether you're enlightened or not, live your life the same way?

    Basically, being enlightened is being enlightened and that's all folks...sorta, kinda

  • Yes and no. Enlightened or not, each moment comes and goes. It is the moment and the being within the moment. Enlightenment is as simple as breathing or as difficult as rocket science to a monkey. You can awaken in an instant or remain in darkness. When you open to yourself and the world around you, the fog begins to lift.
    You chop wood; you make a fire. Those are actions of life. Enlightenment is your relation to those actions.
    Chop wood, fetch water...live.

    Peace to all

    TiggerKeromeeggsavior
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