The Wisdom of the Mountain

21 Aug


In my reading I come across a lot of parables. I’ve adapted this one slightly. I hope you like it.


In ancient China, on top of Mount Ping stood a temple where the enlightened one, Hwan, dwelled. Of his many disciples, only one is known to us, Lao. For more than 20 years, Lao studied and meditated under the great master. Although Lao was one of the brightest and most determined of disciples, he had yet to reach enlightenment.

Lao struggled with his lot for days, nights, months, even years until one morning, the sight of a falling cherry blossom spoke to his heart. “I can no longer fight my destiny,” he reflected. “Like the cherry blossom, I must gracefully resign myself to my lot.” From that moment forth, Lao determined to retreat down the mountain, giving up his hope of enlightenment.

Lao searched for Hwan to tell him of his decision. The master sat before a white wall, deep in meditation. Reverently, Lao approached him. “Enlightened one,” he said. But before he could continue, the master spoke, “Tomorrow I will join you on your journey down the mountain.” No more needed to be said. The great master understood.

The next morning, before their descent, the master looked out into the vastness surrounding the mountain peak. “Tell me, Lao,” he said, “what do you see?” “Master, I see the sun beginning to wake just below the horizon, meandering hills and mountains that go on for miles, and couched in the valley below, a lake and an old town.” The master listened to Lao’s response. He smiled, and then they
took the first steps of their long descent.

Hour after hour, as the sun crossed the sky, they pursued their journey, stopping only once as they approached the foot of the mountain. Again Hwan asked Lao to tell him what he saw. “Great wise one, in the distance I see roosters as they run around barns, cows asleep in sprouting meadows, old ones basking in the late afternoon sun, and children romping by a brook.” The master, remaining silent, continued to walk until they reached the gate to the town.

There the master gestured to Lao, and together they sat under an old tree. “What did you learn today, Lao?” asked the master. “Perhaps this is the last wisdom I will impart to you.” Silence was Lao’s response. At last, after long silence, the master continued. “The road to enlightenment is like the journey down the mountain. It comes only to those who realize that it is the walk down not the climb up that makes the difference. We struggle to rise to the top of the mountain, to work on our perfection so that we might become enlightened. Yet, the more we struggle, the further we get from the truth. It is not the view from the top that matters, but the view from where you are. Like the cherry blossom, you have accepted your destiny and stropped struggling. You have given up your search for truth and thus you have found it.”

When the master stopped speaking, Lao looked out to the horizon, and as the sun set before him, it seemed to rise in his heart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: