The Trials of the Master
As the master was sitting in meditation, a young novice approached him to commence his daily meditation practice. Both master and novice settled into their respective sitting positions and after sharing the pleasantries of the day, admiring the caress of the late afternoon sun on their faces and the sweet breeze that ruffled the ends of their robes, they both began to meditate.
After some considerable time the novice opened his eyes and interrupted the musings of his master. "Master, master’, he cried, "I cannot get these thoughts out of my mind. At one minute I am calm, the next minute there is some thought or other that intrudes upon my peace.’
Now the master, as was his wont, reflected upon the dilemma of his young charge and then said, "My son, why is it that you care and concern yourself with what is not real? The past which was, is no longer a reality, the future which will be, is not yet upon you.’ My son,’ he implored, "when you can glory in each moment that you have been given and judge it as neither good nor bad, then you will be able to achieve your peace of mind.’
"But master,’ cried the young novice, "I am not like you! I was not raised in a monastery. I was raised by poor peasants and made to work from dawn till dusk and with little to eat. My father would beat me if I did not finish all my work and my mother threw me onto the streets when I was no more than ten years old.’
Upon hearing these words the master felt great empathy for his young novice and realised that this moment was both a point of great potential and one of great peril in regard to the future of the young man. Slowly and deliberately, the master raised himself from his meditation mat and approached the novice. He then turned his back to the young man and dropped his robes from his shoulders. Upon seeing this, the novice let out a cry of surprise for criss-crossed across the back of the master were scars from lash marks he had received as a young man. So many scars, in fact, that they were too numerous to count.
As the master realigned his cloak and resumed his meditation seat, the young novice started to cry. Great sobs of release flowed from the young man, uncontrollable sobs that had been pent-up for so many years. When finally the novice had run out of tears, the master with a look and gaze that contained nothing but love, said to the young man,
"My son, each of us has had to traverse many a difficult road with many challenging and traumatic experiences. For many, these experiences could be called horrific, yet it is so that each of us is a blessed human being from God and each is gifted with the grace of life and the ability to love.
"Choose therefore to love who you are at this present moment. Bless the experiences and the people who have brought you to this place and time. Condemn them not, for they are also blessed of God. Forgive their actions, for without those actions you would not be the beautiful, bright star that you are today. Do nothing else but observe your thoughts and do not react to them. Judge them neither as good nor bad, merely that they are only thoughts and that they are non-permanent, merely transitory.’
"My son, I say to you most sincerely, that it is our capacity to forgive both ourselves and others, which is the greatest and most powerful force of love that can be found in your heart. For it was the great master Jesus who said, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us ...” So be it.’
By Stephen Chong M.Ed.
Excerpt from The Music of the Soul: A Pathway to a Rich and Fulfilling Life, 2011, p.73-74, Sid Harta Publishers Pty Ltd