My mom, Ruby Bedi, recently shared a story with me that has a really profound lesson. I felt it worth sharing with all of you because it really showed me how we often times misinterpret the “signs” in our lives. It also taught me that no matter who you are – a monk or an ordinary person – you can still get it wrong.
There once was a Buddhist monk. He lived deep in the forest in a monastery with his fellow monks and masters. Every day, he engaged in his daily practices and rituals. He lived with nothing but the robes on his back and a small sash in which he could carry a few small things should he need to travel to other monasteries around the world. He practiced under a master so severe, so austere, that he had been described as cruel by fellow monks. The severity, he justified, was just pushing him to achieve the peace he so longed for.
Long before he was a monk, he was an ordinary man. He had a wife, a job and a home. He lived in a big city and drove to work and went grocery shopping. But he couldn’t deny the calling that took him to the depths of the forest to pursue a life of purity and discipline in the hopes of achieving nirvana.
It had been 7 years that the ordinary man had lived as a monk in the forest. The peace he sought eluded him. After years of practice, discipline and struggle, the monk decided that it was time for him to leave the monastery. He was angry and fed up with his master. He didn’t want to live one more moment of torture under this monk’s thumb. One day, he walked out the front door of the monastery. There was a car waiting to take him back home. He got in and didn’t look back.
The car, unfortunately, broke down only meters away from the monastery. The monk thew his head back in defeat. Dammit, he secretly thought. The Universe, God, Buddha was telling him that he had made a mistake. He wasn’t meant to leave the brotherhood. He was turning his back on his path. He was denying his destiny. The thought plagued him, but not enough to change his mind. He got the car running again, drove for hours and hours and finally arrived at home.
Years later the monk, now an ordinary man, met a master in ordinary clothes. He told her he was wrestling with his decision to leave the Buddhist path and to return home. He recounted the story of the car breaking down and how in that moment he knew that he had made a mistake by leaving the monastery. The wise master didn’t waste a single moment. “You idiot!” she said. “You got the message all wrong! The broken down car was not telling you not to leave. The broken down car was teaching you not to leave in anger! ”
I just thought I would quickly mention that my mom is hosting an Inlighten Me Experience one-day event in Calgary on Sunday, August 21. If you like the stuff that I’ve shared on my blog about her and her philosophies, you might want to check it out. As you know, if you’ve been reading my blogs, I’ve been doing a lot of her work and it’s really been instrumental in the profound changes in my life and perspective over the last number of months. I encourage you to check it out, even if you are only fractionally intrigued. This is not another new age, self-help seminar. I assure you.
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