The Living Buddha- Part- III
The hallway where the monk had left the man was lengthy lined by windows on either side. Each window pavement had a wooden statue of Lord Buddha, decorated with flowers and ash remains of incense sticks scattered around the statue. All statues were about half-a-foot tall and were identical. The warmth of the campfire set by the monk the previous night brought him back to life. Soon the fire was about to die down nature took the upper hand. He started to shiver as soon as the flames grew thin. He learnt that to keep himself alive, through this bone crunching cold, he has to keep the flame alive.
There was nothing in the reach near, except the wooden statues of Buddha, to feed for the flames. Giving no second thought, he reached for the statues and gave them to the flames, one by one. This was what the monk saw first thing in the morning. This drove him mad. The monk jumped to his feet, “You mindless moron! How dare you do this? You’ve any idea what you’ve done?” Yelling this, he pushed the man aside. The man unable to balance rolled on the floor and hit the sidewall. Gasping heavily the monk swiftly tried to remove a few half-burnt statues. His lips were muttering some chants. Most of them had already turned to ashes leaving half of the window pavements empty.
By now trying hard, the old man stood by himself and saw the monk deeply. The monk shared a hostile look on him and stood up. He could hardly save any of the statues from the fire. “Look what you have done! Is this what you return back for your stay here?” bellowed the monk. He was restless. So was his voice. The chillness was still lingering around. The old man sneezed. He came closer, stood quite, just looking the monk keenly.
Clearing his throat he said, “You are worrying about the lifeless Buddha made of wood. I worried about the Buddha alive, inside me. It was to save the Buddha inside me from dying out of cold; I burnt these inanimate wooden buddhas”. The words of wisdom, hit the monk straight. He froze, sat down on the floor in shock. The words shook his roots. All this time the old man just stood at the same place, observing him. The monk stood up and fell at his knees. “Forgive me Buddha,” he cried.
This was a Zen story that I read while I was 18. I wished to retell that story in my own words, with the drama elevated a little. This story barrowed a day’s sleep and I lost the following day in thought. It redefined my faith and reshaped my religious outlook. My faith turned more rational, from then on. Hope it’ll make you reinvestigate your ideologies as well.