The seeker roamed the land for years in search of a master.
He went through many villages and towns, but they all shook their heads when asked if they knew of any master who lived nearby. Finally, he reached a small village by the side of a mountain. It was so small he almost missed it, and would have missed it had he not heard the the shrill cry of a newborn baby.
He hurried to the village and asked if they knew of a master. The villagers then told him, “Yes, there is one left and he lives in a small cave on the side of this mountain. If you hurry along this path, you may reach him before sunset.”
The seeker hurried along and reached the cave after a short while.
The master looked up at him and smiled. “Yes?” he said, “How may I help you?”
The seeker asked, “Well, why is it that there are no more masters around? I have searched for years and only now have I found you. Where are all the masters?”
The master closed his eyes for a moment. Then he suddenly opened them wide and shouted, “Seeker!”
“Yes, sir!” the seeker answered in surprise.
The master smiled again, and continued in a whisper, “Where are you?”
“So what have you learned today?” said the master.
“I have learned that all of reality is in my mind.” said the student.
“Really?” said the master.
“Yes,” said the student. “It is my mind that determines what is real and what is not. If I believe in something with all my heart and mind, it becomes real for me. And if I believe that it is not, then it is not.”
“Interesting,” said the master.
“This is why a lot of people are unhappy in the world,” said the student. “Because people believe that they have not attained happiness. They believe that they are imperfect; that they have not reached their goals and dreams. If only people would believe that they have everything they want and need, and have faith as solid as a rock, that goes as deep as the roots of that old tree in the meadow, then there would be peace and happiness in the world.”
“So it’s all in the mind eh?” said the master.
The student nodded.
“Speaking of that old tree over there,” said the master. “Are you saying then that if you believe with your entire heart and mind that it doesn’t exist, then it won’t be there? At least, for you?”
“Yes,” said the student.
“Do something for me then,” said the master. The master led him to a point a short distance away from the tree. “I want you to sit here, face this tree, and focus on believing that there is no tree in front of you. Take as much time as you want until you fully believe in your heart and mind that it doesn’t exist. When you feel that you have that rock solid belief already, I want you to run in a straight path as fast as you can. If you don’t hit the tree, then you can be the master, and I, your student.”
The disciple approached the master and said, “Master, I think I am ready to leave you and begin teaching others.”
The master said, “Very well, prepare a discourse that you will deliver 3 days from now. I will invite all the villagers to come and listen. Afterwards, I shall decide whether or not you are really ready.”
So the disciple prepared for the discourse and chose to highlight all the important lessons he had learned. After 3 days, he delivered his talk in the village square. Immediately after he had spoken, the audience applauded him warmly as the talk was well-prepared and well-spoken. Then, a beggar rose from his seat and approached the disciple, who was still on the stage. The disciple immediately came down, removed his cloak, and put it around the tattered rags of the beggar. He also removed his purse and gave it to the beggar. The audience greeted him with another round of applause.
Afterwards, the master called the disciple for a private talk.
“Your words were well-crafted and you seem to have perfected the artful delivery of them,” said the master, “but you are not yet ready.”
“But why?” said the disciple.
“For two reasons. First, you did not give the beggar a chance to voice his need, choosing instead to assume that he wanted your cloak and coins. And second, you are not yet above impressing others with your own piety.”