How Do I Get To The Other Side?

Photo Credit: jennifer.stahn Flickr via Compfight cc

There is a story I encountered twice in the past few weeks. The first time was when I read it somewhere on the internet and the second time was when a friend used it in a speech dedicated to the birthday of another friend. Anyway, it’s a good story and worth pondering upon, so here goes:

A young monk was walking along a riverbank, trying to find a way to go across the river. The current was too strong to swim in and there were numerous rocks jutting out that would make that very dangerous. He walked for quite some time but did not see a bridge, nor even a raft or boat that he could use to paddle across.

Then he saw an older monk on the other side, hobbling along the riverbank. The young monk waved to the older one and shouted, “Father, how do I get to the other side?”

The old monk looked at him for a moment, then shouted back, “My son, you are already on the other side.”

I guess it is the human condition to not be satisfied about one’s current state. The poor dream of being rich, thinking how happy they would be with oodles of money. But there are also the rich who envy the poor for their simplicity and ability to laugh and enjoy life despite their circumstances. There are common folk like us who dream of being famous while there are celebrities who try hard to anonymous when they are off the camera. There are those deprived of good health who fight tooth and nail just to see one more sunrise while there are those in the prime of their lives who willingly throw themselves off the roof or put a bullet through their heads to hasten their journey to the ultimate other side.

There is another story of a poor fisherman who was sitting on the docks with his friends. They were talking and laughing while holding on to their fishing poles waiting for the fish to bite. A businessman came along and saw them, and said to the fisherman, “You know, if you went on your boat to the deeper part of the sea, and used a net, you could catch more fish.”

“Why would I want to do that?” asked the fisherman. “I catch just enough for me to eat for today. What will I do with all that fish?”

“Well, you could sell it at the market and make some money,” replied the businessman.

“And why would I want to do that?” said the fisherman.

“Well, with more money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch more fish,” said the businessman.

“And why would I want to do that?” said the fisherman.

“Well, eventually, you could buy more boats and hire others to fish for you and you can have tons of money so that you won’t ever worry again on how or where to get your next meal. Then you can sit back with your friends and go fishing all day.”

“But isn’t that what I’m already doing now?” said the fisherman.

The secret to happiness is contentment — the realization that where you are now is already the other side. As the zen master said to the student who was getting frustrated because he worked so hard at enlightenment, “Stop struggling and you will arrive.”

 

Email me at andy@freethinking.me. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

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