Daily News Online

Friday, 6 April 2012






Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

To cross the border

The monks were seven in all: head monk, his brother, his best friend, his enemy, an old monk, sick monk and a useless monk. They settled in a remote cave, quite far from the nearest village. Someone from the village would come, serve food. But there were times the monks chose to travel to the village for alms. The village was bordered by a river.

Whether he liked it or not, the head monk had to lead all his companions.

He did not have any issue with his best friend - obviously! His brother did not cause him any trouble. The thing with the enemy was that they both could not just get along well. The enemy did not respect the head monk. The old monk is the eldest of the group. He was quite old and would die any moment. The sixth monk, the sick one, was also nearing his death any moment. And the useless monk, the seventh, was actually a nuisance. He snored a lot - aloud too - during meditation sessions. When they had to recite together, he would often go out of track. He did not even know how to keep his robes properly.

So on this particular day when the group had to travel to the village, they had to cross the river. They did not know the village was captured by a gang of bandits. They had surrounded the river and the monks could not go any farther.

This looked like a demon in the river barring the path.

“Who is the head here?” A well-built bandit questioned. He looked scary.

The head monk came forward. But he didn’t say a word.

“Okay, here’s a deal. We can let you cross the river, but none of you can get back here. To make sure of it, we will have to kill one of you. So head monk, I give you five minutes to decide.”

So who had to go? Ajahn Brahmavamso does not forget to pose this question whenever he narrates this story in his public talks.

Enemy? No. Enemy did not respect the head monk, but the latter never loathed him. Then, the eldest monk? He will die any moment. No, not him either. He will die any moment, true, but he is not supposed to die now. The sick monk? No, not even him. Other answers too follow: brother and best friend. Obviously they won’t be the head monk’s choice.

Then it should be himself! Well, we think we hit the nail on the head with that answer. It is natural because our traditions uphold sacrifice. We admire people who have sacrificed themselves in favour of others. But sadly this is also not the answer.

Ajahn takes a moment to explain.

“The head monk’s love for his brother was exactly the same, no more and no less, than his love for his best friend - which was exactly the same as his love for his enemy, for the old monk, the sick monk, and even for the dear old useless monk. He had perfected the meaning of those words: the door of my heart will always be open to you, whatever you do, whoever you are. The door of the head monk’s heart was wide open to all, with unconditional, non-discriminating, free-flowing love. And most poignantly, his love for others was equal to his love for himself. The door of his heart was open to himself as well. That’s why he could not choose between himself and others.”

Spreading loving kindness begins at home. We are our home. So the door of our heart must be open to us before anything. If that is so, what happens at the end? The traditional story won’t give out any details. But Ajahn Brahmavamso figures it out.

Unafraid, the head monk reached the bandits. He had no reason to be afraid, because he was equipped with enough practice of loving kindness. Not only has the head monk told the bandits he cannot make a choice, but also explained why he cannot do so. He enlightens them how warm love and forgiveness are. That was enough to impress the bandits. They let all the monks pass the border.

And they too tagged along with the retinue.



Sri Lankan Wedding Magazine online
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL)
Donate Now | defence.lk

| News | Editorial | Business | Features | Political | Security | Sport | World | Letters | Obituaries |

Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2012 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor