The Grand Master and His Apprentice

Grand Master,’ came the entreaty from his young apprentice, ‘I have heard you speak much of ‘being grateful’, but for all of my want of trying, I cannot let go of my anger towards my mother who treated me so badly for so many years. As you know, she was abusive and unstable and made my youth an unpleasant journey of much unhappiness.”

My son, that you should feel the intensity of these emotions is a natural part of the human condition. It is important not to berate yourself, nor consider yourself unworthy in any way for having these feelings. Merely, acknowledge the presence of these powerful memories and emotions. Merely observe them as you would a spectator at a game of sport - but do not attach to them.’

Then the Grand Master said, ‘Come with me, I want to show you something.’ The master and the apprentice then walked a short distance to a wishing well in the centre of the village. As both the master and the apprentice peered into the well’s depths, the master said, ‘What do those coins at the bottom of the well represent?’

Master, each coin represents somebody’s wish for something better in their lives. They are desiring that something be fixed or brought to them that will make life a little more pleasant for themselves.’

This is quite so,’ said the Master, ‘but why do you believe, that by casting coins into a pool of water, their desires will be made manifest?’

I guess this is because they do not firmly believe in the grace of God. They feel He must be cajoled with coin, so as to be provided with what they need.’

This is so, young apprentice, but the real reason is that they do not give thanks for the many gifts that they have been bestowed.’

But master’, interrupted the apprentice, ‘many of these people have little in the way of possessions. They are poor and impoverished, some are sick from maladies, or cast upon by evil doers wishing to do them harm.’

Your observations are quite poignant, young apprentice. Just like you, many of these people have traversed a lifetime of experiences that would be considered harsh, challenging and demanding, but to view these experiences through the prism of hatred, malice or malcontent, suffices only to make the experiences more real. It is like feeding a wolf that threatens to devour you.’

But master, what do I need to do to rid myself of these unwanted legacies?’

Do’, said the master, ‘you need not ‘do’ anything! You simply need to ‘be’ ... be grateful.’

But master, I do not understand.’

My son, each morning, as you arise, say unto yourself, ‘today I will be grateful, peaceful and loving’. Repeat this same mantra each time an unwanted thought about a past experience enters your mind. Do this for as long as your mind continues to try to tie you to the past. This ‘state of being’ will liberate you from the shackles of guilt and regret. It will set you free to realise your grand purpose while you are in this body – a purpose that will help you realise who you really are.’

Master,’ said the young apprentice, ‘from the bottom of my heart - thank you’.

Stephen Chong M.Ed.