Does meditation lead to enlightenment? A delightful story...
A monk and his intent to reach enlightment through meditation ... a little tale of persistence and letting go.
Listen to the story
Read the story
As a young man he journed to find that perfect guru, like we all do to help tame our mind and so finally he found someone who inspired him and was a great teacher.
After some time that teacher sent the young monk away to meditate in the mountains. The teaacher said: "In order to free your mind, you need to be persistent at meditating." So he send him away for 20 years.
After twenty years of meditating went up into the mountains to try to find his young student. Eventually after some time he found the cave where the student was living. He enquired how the student had been going.
The poor student had a lot of trouble, he had progressed somewhat. It was difficult to survive out there. He has taken some vegetables which he has grown, some seeds and he lived on a few bags of barley that he took with him. But by and by he was struggling in his meditation practise.
So the guru said: "It does take time and you need to learn to just give everything away." He sent him back for another twenty years.
And so the monk again was there, not seeing anyone, meditating for years and years. Finally the guru, who was at this time quite ancient of age went back and saw him again. And again the monk had not made the progress that he thought he should.
The guru said: "I know it takes time, you have been meditating for a long time. I would have hoped you have made much more progress than this. But still, keep at it and gradually your mind will become purified."
So another twenty years passed, this is sixty years in total and this great teacher who was bordering on a hundred years himself, sent some of his other students to the monk to leave the mountain and come and see him.
The monk who was probably now seventyfive himself, came down to the guru and said: "I have meditated now virtually for my whole life but I still haven't got the enlightment that I was seeking."
And the old man said: "Oh, yes, I see now. With my wisdom I gained in my life, I see that I have given you the wrong practise. I should have given you a different practise and that would have helped you clean your mind, so that you would have reached enlightment. I am very sorry but to do this again, we just don't have time."
And so the monk was left at that. He was bitterly disappointed. All that work and all that pain he had pushed himself through. Beyond that he was not too sure what he would do now. So he went back to the village where he had grown up. But back in his village everyone he knew had either left or passed away. His own village was a stranger to him.
He wondered around, he was of no use to anyone. He could not help anyone, he had not learned anything in his life. So he did not know what to do. So eventually he went back to the place where he felt comfortable which was his cave.
He got up there to his cave way up in the lonely mountains but of course there was no point in doing a practise which didn't work for him. So he just made himself the normal breakfast of the roots and berries that he gathered and he decided to just sit down in the sun and enjoy the day because there was nothing more that he could do.
And with that - he reached enlightment.
- Peter Radcliffe