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A very long time ago there was a man who sought the truth. This man lived in a world of sadness and tribulation. He had studied the ancient texts for most of his life, but just couldn’t figure out how to be content and serene in his life. His wife and children would look into his eyes and feel his sadness.
On one of his travels he heard that a woman of infinite wisdom lived in a distant village and that could finally bring him the answer he was so desperately seeking. Of course, the people could not tell the man exactly how to find her, but that she lived among a foreign people just past the distant hills in the west.
The man decided to seek her out. He bid his family farewell and went to find this woman of infinite wisdom. The elements of his journey are not well known. Some stories said that he found a strong horse, others say he was taken to the west by a kind taxi driver, but it is known that he made the long trek to the base of the distant mountains where he began his painful and arduous climb now alone. The man looked to the vast sky above him and whispered to his god, ‘why have you made my life so difficult? why must this question rend my life with such woe?’
With a heavy heart the man climbed the trackless mountains and finally reached their perilous summit. Alas, the zenith was covered in fog and clouds. In the distance the man could hear thunder and see the distant flashing of lighting. Stepping on rocks glistening with the stuff of clouds the man began the descent to the unknown lands.
When he reached the other side, the sky had cleared and the man could see the small pillar of smoke that suggested a village not far from where he stood. With confident strides he set off in that direction and indeed there was a village. The people greeted the stranger with beaming smiles, kindness, and most of all with delicious food, for he was starving.
After his meal the stranger asked the villagers about the woman of infinite wisdom. Many of them burst into laughter for they had heard this question before, from other seekers. Some of the older villagers asked the younger ones not to make the man feel so badly about his hard journey. One elder looked with great compassion into the stranger’s eyes and said that the woman was a myth.
The man was crushed. His last and only hope was shattered in a riotous laugh. ‘My life is, indeed, a joke’, he thought to himself bitterly. It was all hopeless.
Now the people felt sad for the bereft man in their midst. ‘Why are you sad?’, they asked. He told them his long story and his dream for finding the meaning of his life. While they felt great compassion for the man, his ragged and confused appearance tickled them as well. He could also see that some of them were valiantly holding back gales of laughter. This angered the proud man.
‘Why do you laugh at me?’, he asked. ‘Why must you be so cruel?’, he shouted at the villagers. A kind older woman said, ‘we understand what ails you my friend. There was a time when we experienced the same pain and confusion that you possess. But we have been healed.’
‘How were you healed?’ the man demanded. ‘What is your secret’?, he shouted.
The old woman stepped back a little frightened by the man’s intensity. ‘The answer you are seeking is a simple one, but I am not sure if you’re ready to hear it.’ ‘Please tell me.’ the man said in forced calmness.
‘Then I shall tell you’, the woman whispered. She went into a kind of trance and said, ‘You are a ghost … you are a phantom … you are not real. In a way you scare us, for you are a ghost and ghosts are hungry and they feed on their world. They have no balance. Their hunger is never satisfied.’
‘So what am to do’, the man cried desperately. ‘I do not want to scare you.’
‘You must know only one thing. You must know that the person you believe yourself to be is utterly a ghost, a kind of prowling beast. You can know this person in only one way and that way is to believe that you will be. That you is a ghost, a phantasm. The you that no longer hunger never will be, it is life without any will be. It lives free of wanting. Their is only one path to balance, to a life that ceases to hunger and that is to let go with your belief in an I that will be. You are, but without a you – You are, but without a you.’
There was a long pause, but she continued in a hush …
‘The false self of ‘will be’ is violent. He is driven by need and desire. He will stop at nothing to get what he desires. This person is never fully satisfied. He always hungers for more for will be can never be, it is always just beyond reach. So he grasps and struggles, but can never attain. The angry man of will be will cloak his desire with the kindly sounding word HOPE, but that is just a way to mask the festering discontent that feeds his anger and desperation. This man of will be must be seen as false, as poison, as hell in this life. That is all.’
The stranger turned around and faced the mountains he would need to cross to return to his land. Now the peaks shone brilliantly in the warm sunlight. He felt rage at the villagers and thought they were fools. So without even a farewell, he began his long journey as discontent and frustrated as ever. The villagers pushed delicious food into his sack and felt sorrow for him, for he had a hard journey before him.
The man finally returned to his dark, but busy village in the middle of night. He entered his home where his anxious wife children greeted him nervously. They asked him about his travels. They asked him if he found what he was seeking. They looked into his exhausted eyes with hope.
The husband and father said, ‘I learned nothing. I am condemned to this search. This is the only meaning of life.’ He burst into tears, tears of both rage and sadness.
The next morning was grey and windy. When the seeker woke up he said how I love these great gray skies, how I love my wife and children, how I love … life.