A Lesson in Chewing

The disciple said to the master, “All you do is tell us stories, but you never explain them. How are we supposed to learn anything?”

The master said, “Come now, no need to be so hotheaded. We can discuss over a light snack. Would you like some bread and cheese?”

“Okay,” said the disciple.

The master broke off a piece of bread and put it in his mouth. He then bit off a piece of cheese. After chewing the food for a while, he spat it out in a bowl and handed it to the disciple.

“Here’s your bread and cheese,” said the master.

“But I can’t eat that! You already chewed it and spat it out,” cried the shocked disciple.

“True,” said the master, “I cannot chew your food for you. And neither can I feed you the lessons in my stories. Those are for you to chew and taste and swallow.”

Those Who Know

The master and his disciples passed by a small crowd where a theologian was discussing emphatically about heaven and hell. Some of the disciples stopped to listen for a while and so the master also stopped to accommodate their curiosity.

Later on, he heard some of his disciples arguing among themselves. Some said the theologian was brilliant in his arguments while others disagreed and pointed out the flaws. Finally they turned to the master to ask his opinion on the matter.

Photo courtesy of boycek, sxc.hu
Photo courtesy of boycek, sxc.hu

The master just smiled and said, “There is a saying–and it applies perfectly in this case–that those who say a lot do not know anything, and those who know a lot do not say anything.”

“What do you mean?” asked the disciples.

“How many of you know what a rose smells like?” asked the master.

All of the disciples raised their hands.

“Now, put it into words,” said the master.

Everyone fell silent, and understood.

Fire

One night, the old master lay in bed, knowing that hisĀ  time was near. He called his disciple over and said, “Before I die, I want you to know that you will be my successor. I have here a journal that has passed through seven generations of masters. Each one has added to the journal his own thoughts and insights into the Truth. Here, take this.”

“Master,” replied the disciple, “I have learned the Truth from you without the aid of any journal. I have no need of it.”

“Nevertheless,” said the master, “I want you to have it as a symbol that I have passed my knowledge and authority to you.”

The disciple then bowed and took the journal from the master’s outstretched hand. It did not stay in his hand for long as he promptly threw it into the fire that was keeping them warm.

At this, the master leaped up and shouted, “Are you insane? What are you doing? That was the knowledge of seven generations!”

The disciple replied, “You must be insane yourself. What are you saying?”

At this, the master clapped a hand on the disciple’s shoulder, and laughed long and hard until he had to lie down. In a moment, he passed away.

The Party

Some wealthy and influential people had heard about the master and they wanted to meet him, so they sent a messenger to invite him to a special banquet.

The master arrived at the party wearing beggar’s robes and the people were immediately repulsed and shooed him away. He immediately went home, washed his face, put on an expensive cloak, and returned to the party where he was immediately ushered into the circle of the rich and powerful.

He bowed to them, took off his cloak and draped it on his seat.

“I showed up a while ago but you shooed me away, so I hope you enjoy talking to the cloak because you have obviously sent your invitation to it, and not to me.”

And he walked away.

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