Surprising the Master
The students in the monastery were in total awe of the elder monk, not because he
was strict, but because nothing ever seemed to upset or ruffle him. So they found
him a bit unearthly and even frightening. One day they decided to put him to a test.
A bunch of them very quietly hid in a dark corner of one of the hallways, and waited for
the monk to walk by. Within moments, the old man appeared, carrying a cup of hot
tea. Just as he passed by, the students all rushed out at him screaming as loud as
they could. But the monk showed no reaction whatsoever. He peacefully made his way to a small
table at the end of the hall, gently placed the cup down, and then, leaning against
the wall, cried out with shock, "Ohhhhh!"
People's reactions to this story:
"The 'MASTER' was human after all! It took him time to react, but he reacted just
"I doubt that anyone here in America has that kind of concentration and self-control.
Very few of us can concentrate on one thing like that."
"Maybe it's a lesson about how even the toughest of us can only be pushed so far."
"This is a lot like meditation and intense concentration on something. It takes a
few seconds for things to sink in. You're almost in a daydreaming state of mind."
"Don't be disrupted by outside foolery!"
"The master yelling was fear and no fear at the same time. Rather than a reaction, the sound of his cry put all of the monks into samadhi or no mind to free them from their attached states at that moment."
"This reminded me of a mysticism book I once read. It cautioned against being over-impressed
by surface trickery that ignores the significance of true awareness."
"Sometimes I may be so wrapped up in a project that someone could come and tell me
the most incredible news, but I'll have no idea what they said until I'm no longer
focusing on the project."
"I think the students are a bit evil by scheming to scare an old man holding hot tea.
Shame on them!"
"Isn't it always that those who are jealous of another just have to plot to find ways
to 'demythologize" them!"
"I wanted the monk to remain silent."
"Why did the master yell at all? Did he do it just to satisfy his students? Was it
a way for him to get in the last laugh?"
"I don't understand why the monk went over to the table to where the student's couldn't
see him. He didn't feel it was necessary for the students to see his emotions?"
"I think the old man held in his fright until he was alone, so the students wouldn't
"Some people don't let things bother them. Or maybe they don't like to show their
emotions for fear of being vulnerable."
"The monk sounds a lot like me. I tend not to let people see how much things bother
me and then I become upset when I'm alone."
"I like the way the story leaves your mind to wander because it cuts off without letting
the reader know what the delayed reaction is all about."
"I love that monk! He's got his priorities straight."
"Did he burn himself with the tea?"
"This story reminds me of a lot of sarcastic people I know. You can never scare them
or get any emotion out of them. I hate that. It's as if they don't have a soul."
"Not everyone can be emotionless at all times. We all have flaws."
|| Full Awareness || Without Fear || Self-Control ||
John Suler, Ph.D. © 1997 All rights reserved.