Learn Challenges – A Buddhist and Zen Story
Once upon a time, in a serene monastery nestled high in the mountains, there lived two monks, a wise old monk, and a young novice. Every day, they followed the same routine: meditation, contemplation, and prayer. Life was peaceful and simple in the monastery, but a significant river lay between the monastery and the nearby village.
One day, the old monk suggested to the novice that they should go to the village to collect alms. The novice was puzzled as it was against their daily practice to cross the river. The river was notorious for its strong currents, and the villagers often discouraged crossing it.
The novice hesitated and said, “But, venerable master, how can we cross the river? It’s treacherous, and we could be swept away.”
The old monk smiled and said, “The river may be strong, but our determination is stronger. We must go to the village and collect alms today.”
The novice had deep respect for his master and agreed. They gathered their alms bowls and made their way to the river’s edge. As they stood there, the novice felt a wave of fear and uncertainty. The old monk, however, was calm and composed.
Without hesitation, the old monk stepped into the river, and the novice followed. The current was indeed powerful, and they struggled to maintain their balance. The novice was gripped by fear, but he saw his master’s unwavering determination and pressed on.
Halfway across the river, the novice slipped and was on the verge of being carried away by the turbulent waters. In that moment of desperation, he cried out, “Master, help me!”
The old monk reached out and grabbed the novice’s hand, pulling him back to safety. Together, they continued their journey to the village, collected alms, and returned to the monastery, crossing the river once more.
Back in the monastery, the novice asked his master, “Venerable master, why did you insist on crossing the river even though it was dangerous? I was so afraid, and without your help, I might have been lost.”
The old monk smiled and replied, “The river, my dear novice, is a metaphor for the challenges and obstacles we face in life. Just like the river, life’s currents can be strong and unpredictable. But if we let fear hold us back, we’ll never reach our goals. We must face our fears and challenges with determination and perseverance, and when we stumble, we have to reach out and help each other. That’s how we grow, learn, and become stronger.”
The novice realized the profound wisdom in his master’s words. From that day on, he carried the valuable lesson of crossing the river with him, not just as a physical experience but as a reminder to face life’s challenges with courage and to help others in their times of need.
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