Keys to Wisdom
Once, a man living secluded in the forest had been a monk. He left the monastery, seeking a higher calling. The reason? Penance, contrition, forgiveness – all extolled – in a place that locked its doors! Such contrary notions, acceptance and exclusion, left a bad taste in his mouth. So he left the monastery and threw away the keys, leaving them buried deep in the forest. Subsequently, he attained a deep wisdom.
The forest sage was approached by a fool one day as he was sitting on a rock, meditating. The fool was astounded by the calm tranquility in the man’s gaze and his beatific face. He said, “How have you found peace? Are we not lowly servants of the one god, and, as such, are we not meant to suffer?”
The sage smiled. “True,” he said. “Yet, go no further!”
The fool was confused by his words. He went away muttering, saying, “What a fool. He realizes peace not out of wisdom but out of stupidity.”
The next day, the sage was gone. The wandering fool observed, wryly, “Hm. Blown away like the fall leaves, I suppose. A tree without roots…hah!” Just then, the sage appeared. His expression was changed, his eyes, burning, like two hot coals. He said nothing, but pointed towards the monastery. The fool was frightened.
He fell to his knees. “Please, have mercy! What do I do?”
The sage continued pointing. The fool, seeing no recourse, crawled away slowly. As he reached the forest’s edge, he turned his head around. The sage was no longer stern. Instead, his expression had changed to a paternal smile. He ceased pointing, lowering his arm. Then, the former monk nodded to the poor man. Speechless, the fool got to his feet, set his gaze on the monastery, and entered. The forest sage chuckled. “Poor man,” he said amusedly.
The sage sat on his rock. His eyes went from smiling, to a pensive, downward gaze. He meditated again, this time on a single word: “monkeys.” He no longer felt angry, but contented. He had lost his hatred of the monk keys.