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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