Thursday, September 5, 2013
doing what becomes us
A formerly thriving monastery is down to its last three monks, and the place has lost all of its spiritual influence. The Abbot walks down the long stairs to consult with a passing well-known wise man who tells him, “I don’t know how to solve the problems of your monastery, but I do know that one of the three of you that remain there is actually the Messiah.”
The Abbot returns and repeats this to the other two monks. Each of them considers inwardly, “Well I know it’s not me, so it must be one of these other two.” Thus they all start treating each other with the greatest of reverence, kindness, respect and love, thinking they might be in the presence of the Messiah. The positive energy that this generates begins to infuse and radiate out from the monastery, and as new visitors pass through, they are infected by it and choose to stay on as monks, and within a short time, the monastery is once again a vibrant and thriving institution.
It's a pretty cool story and one whose premise is inarguable (if you don't believe me, ask Jesus or the Buddha), but I'll have to agree with whomever first mentions that things don't often work out that way among most of us humans. There are so many potential tragedies in process right now that I almost have to wonder how we've lasted as long as we have. Perhaps it's because Progress as we know it now wasn't invented until about 300 years ago. Before that people mostly did what they'd always done, even if that did involve grabbing grandfather's sword or pike and heading off to battle every so often. At least then the battles were generally right on one's doorstep and there was no question of punishing strangers who lived thousands of miles away. Okay, there were the Crusades that were motivated by religious mania and greedy land grabbing in the Americas etc., but my point is that things didn't start getting really crazy until fossil fueled industrialization became endemic.
There's a very old legend among the mystical teachings of several religions that there's always a small group of hidden saints who are 'holding up the world' but who live out their lives as ordinary people. We can never know for sure that the clerk at the market or the bus driver who greets us with a smile isn't one of them. Since we can't know who is or who isn't an Enlightened human being, why not treat everyone as though they are? I rather like the concept that there's no such thing as Enlightenment as that term indicates a changeless state (and there's no such thing in Reality), but what's possible for all of us is Enlightening as a verb, or Becoming if you prefer.
The book the monk story is from (and now own as my very first digital copy) is called 'Why I Am Not Enlightened' and was written by a very wise and funny Western spiritual teacher called Elias Sobel. I recommend it to you.
As Crow says, 'Even if you people can't be perfect, you can at least be nice to one another'.
ps: I didn't get a Kindle but have downloaded a free Adobe E-reader.