Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lao Cai monk climbs a mountain

{ Podcast this essay } A monk who lived near Lao Cai owned nothing but a short walking staff and the clothes on his back. One day he decided to walk to Sapa, and cross the beautiful mountain there. As he started up the mountain, some younger men were eyeing him casually. "Where do you walk today, old man?" They called out. "To see the bright side of this mountain in the morning, and to see its shadows when coming down again this evening." He replied.

The three younger men wished him well, but when he had gone out of sight they conspired with one another on whether to rob the old man upon his return. "What does he own but a single stick?" Asked one. "He has his dignity, and as long as he has such, we feel our lack at the very sight of him." Another retorted.

Some time later, at twilight, the youth spied the old man returning, slowly making his way down the mountain. At a moment of their choosing, they all descended upon him as one.

When the first of the three awoke, he noticed three things: Morning had come. The old man had not left. And his two (still unconscious) companions were lying nearby, battered and bruised.

Noticing this slowly arising youth, the old man address him. "When coming to a new area, it is only proper to grieve with the sad. Or to celebrate with the joyful. But when coming to an unfamiliar area, one must maintain an open mind and a transparent respect for its traditions." The old man explained, his face brightened by the morning sun.

As the old man arose and turned to leave, all the young men were now awake, smarting with pain. Immediately, each noticed a large, newly formed bruise on the back of the old man's neck. So too were there now three walking sticks laying near at hand.

[image] glasvleugelvlinder by patries71 Flickr (Accessed 8/19/2007)


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