Tuesday, February 26, 2008

a short story...

Dust swirled in the shaft of light that broke through the corner of the window in an otherwise windowless room. A child sat with his legs crossed on a reed mat in the center, surrounded by nothing but stone walls and candles held in iron floor sconces. A light breeze danced along the wind chimes outside, creating a background song for the boy’s thoughts.

The boy was trying very hard to empty his mind and meditate as his master instructed him but he wasn’t successful. The boy had questions of life, of love, and of hate. The boy had been a student of the Shaolin Monks for 6 years now. His master was very thorough in his explanations so shouldn’t he understand these concepts enough to know them by now?

The boy hadn’t finished the thought before he heard the whisper of his master’s robe behind him. He peeked through one squinted eye and saw his master walk around him, hands tucked into the sleeves of his robe. He closed his eye quickly and wondered why his master had come.

“Your mind is troubled, my son,” his master said as he sat down in front of him in the same pose as the boy. “Tell me what questions you have.”

The boy opened his eyes and looked up to see his master’s gentle, brown eyes filled with concern. He was embarrassed to answer his master’s question.

“I am confused, master” the boy said, bowing his head to hide his pink cheeks. “I think of the purpose of life and think of love. I think of the necessity of love and think of hate. I think of the evil of hate and think of death, which only makes me think of life again.”

His master smiled, as the boy looked up, easing the boy’s fears and making him eager to hear what his master’s thoughts.

“You broke fast in the courtyard outside this morning, did you not” his master asked.

“Yes, master, I did.”

“What did you see while in the courtyard?”

The boy answered, “I saw two puppies playing, master.”

His master bowed his head and smiled again. “What did you do when you saw the puppies playing” he asked.

“I smiled, master.”

“Why, my son?”

“Because they looked like they were having fun, master.”

“Did they have fun all of the time they played?”

“No, master, they did not. The bigger one hurt the little one and they stopped playing,” the boy answered.

“What did they do then,” his master asked.

“The little one made mean sounds to the bigger one and moved away from him. They didn’t play for a short time, but then played with each other again,” the boy answered.

“There is the answer to your question, my son.”

“How so, master? I do not understand,” the boy said.

His master smiled again. “They were learning a valuable lesson, my son.”

The boy looked at his master, confusion written on his face. “I do not understand, master. The puppies were playing, then stopped playing, then played again,” the boy said.

“Ah, but life is a lesson in and of itself, is it not, my son?”

“Forgive me, master. I still do not understand what lesson the puppies were learning by playing in the courtyard,” the boy said.

“It is the most simple of lessons, my son, and the hardest to master,” his master said.

He continued, “There are times when life is filled with play, which brings love and laughter.

There are other times when life is filled with hate, the absence of love and laughter.

When there is hate, there can not be love and laughter. When there is love and laughter, there is no reason to hate.

The little puppy could have chosen not to play with the bigger puppy again but he did not.

He instead chose to forgive and continue on with playing, bringing love and laughter to him and the one he once hated.

Love and laughter is what makes life worth living. Hate, while a part of life, is the absence of living.

Do you understand, my son?”

“I think so, master, but I’d rather just play with the puppies.”

“And that, my son, is life.”

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