Issue nº 112

Stories about apprenticeship

Stories about apprenticeshipy

Learning to take care of oneself
      - For years I have sought enlightenment – said the disciple. – I feel I am near it and want to know how to take the next step.
      - A man who knows how to seek God knows also how to take care of himself. How do you support yourself? – asked the master.
      - That is just a detail. I have rich parents who help me along my spiritual path. Because of that, I can dedicate myself entirely to sacred things.
      - Very well – said the master. – I will explain to you the next step: look at the sun for half a minute.
      The disciple obeyed.
      When he had finished, the master asked him describe the landscape around him.
      - I can’t. The sun’s brightness dazzled my eyes.
      - A man who looks fixedly at the sun ends up blind. A man who only looks for Light, and shifts his responsibilities onto the shoulders of others, never finds what he is seeking – was the master’s comment.

Making the field fertile
      The Zen master entrusted the disciple with looking after the rice paddy. In the first year, the disciple watched to make sure that the necessary water was never missing; the rice grew strong and the harvest was good.
      In the second year, he had the idea of adding a little fertiliser, the rice grew fast and the harvest was bigger.
      In the third year, he used more fertiliser. The harvest was still bigger, but the rice sprouted small and lacklustre.
      - If you continue increasing the amount of manure, you will have nothing worth having next year – said the master.
     “You strengthen someone when you help a little. But you weaken someone if you help a lot.”

The way of the tiger
      The man was walking through the forest when he saw a crippled fox.
     "How does she feed herself?" he thought.
      At that moment, a tiger approached with an animal in its jaws. It satisfied its hunger and left what remained for the fox.
     "If God helps the fox then he will help me too”, he thought. He returned to his house, locked the door and waited for Heaven to send him food.
      Nothing happened. When he was getting too weak to go out and work, an angel appeared.
      - Why did you decide to imitate the lame fox? - asked the angel. – Get up, take your tools and follow the way of the tiger!

Would anyone know the difference
      A father took his two boys to play mini-golf. At the ticket office he wanted to know the price.
     - Five coins for adults, three for those over six years. Under six years entry is free.
     - One of them is three, the other seven. I’ll pay for the oldest.
     - You are silly – said the ticket seller. You could have saved three coins, saying that the oldest was under six; I would never have known the difference.
      - That may be, but the boys would know. And they would remember the bad example for ever.

Condemned to death
     The group went down the street: the soldiers were escorting a man condemned to the gallows.
      - That man was no good commented a disciple with Awas-el Salam. – Once I gave him a silver coin to help him to get out of his misery and he did nothing important.
     - Perhaps he is no good, but he may now be going to the gallows because of you. Maybe he used the money you gave him to buy a dagger, which he ended up using in the crime committed. In that case, your hands are also bloodied. Instead of trying to support him with love and kindness, you preferred to give him alms and rid yourself of your obligation.

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Issue nº 112