[Joys of the Spiritual Life]
a time, there was a high class rich man. As he became older, he
realized that the suffering of old age was about the same for
rich and poor alike. So he gave up his wealth and class position,
and went into the forest to live as a poor monk. He practiced
meditation, and developed his mind. He freed himself from unwholesome
thoughts, and became contented and happy. His peacefulness and
friendliness gradually drew 500 followers to his side.
At that time,
long ago, most monks usually looked pretty serious. But there
was one monk who, even though he was quite dignified, always wore
at least a little smile. No matter what happened, he never lost
this glimmer of inner happiness. And on happy occasions, he had
the broadest smile, and the warmest laughter of all.
monks, as well as others, would ask him why he was so happy that
he always wore a smile. He chuckled and said, "If I told
you, you wouldn't believe me! And if you thought I spoke a lie,
it would be a dishonor to my master." The wise old master
knew the source of the happiness that could not be wiped from
his face. He made this happiest monk his number one assistant.
after the rainy season, the old monk and his 500 followers went
to the city. The king permitted them to live in his pleasure garden
for the springtime.
was a good man, who took his responsibilities as ruler seriously.
He tried to protect the people from danger, and to increase their
prosperity and welfare. He always had to worry about neighbouring
kings, some of whom were unfriendly and threatening. He often
had to make peace between his own rival ministers of state.
his wives fought for his attention, and for the advancement of
their sons. Occasionally, a dissatisfied subject even threatened
the life of the king himself! And, of course, he had to worry
constantly about the finances of the kingdom. In fact, he had
so much to worry about, that he never had time to be happy!
approached, he learned that the monks were preparing to return
to the forest. Considering the health and welfare of the old leader,
the king went to him and said, "Your reverence, you are now
very old and weak. What good does it do to go back to the forest?
You can send your followers back, while you remain here."
monk then called his number one assistant to him and said, "You
are now to be the leader of the other monks, while you all live
in the forest. As I am too old and weak. I will remain here as
offered by the king." So the 500 returned to the forest and
the old one remained.
one assistant continued practicing meditation in the forest. He
gained so much wisdom and peace that he became even happier than
before. He missed the master, and wanted to share his happiness
with him. So he returned to the city for a visit.
When he arrived,
he sat on a rug at the feet of the old monk. They didn't speak
very much, but every so often the number one assistant would say,
"What happiness! Oh what happiness!"
Then the king
came to visit. He paid his respects to the chief monk. However,
the one from the forest just kept saying, "What happiness!
Oh what happiness!" He did not even stop to greet the king
and show proper respect. This disturbed him, and he thought, "With
all my worries, as busy as I am looking after the kingdom, I take
time out for a visit and this monk does not respect me enough
to even recognize me. "How insulting!" He said to the
senior of the two monks, "Venerable sir, this monk must be
stupid from overeating. That must be why he is so full of happiness.
Does he lie around here so lazy all the time?"
monk replied, "Oh king, have patience and I will tell you
the source of his happiness. Not many know it. He was once a king,
just as rich and mighty as you! Then he was ordained a monk and
gave up his kingly life. Now he thinks his old happiness was nothing
compared to his present joy!"
He used to
be surrounded by armed men, who guarded and protected him. Now,
sitting alone in the forest with nothing to fear, he has no need
for armed guards. He has given up the burden of worrying about
wealth that has to be protected. Instead, free of the worry of
wealth and the fear of power, his wisdom protects himself and
others. He advances in meditation to such inner peace, that he
cannot keep from saying, "What happiness! Oh what happiness!"
The king understood
at once. Hearing the story of the happy monk made him feel at
peace. He stayed for a while and received advice from both of
them. Then he honoured them, and returned to the palace.
happy monk, who once had been a king, paid his respects to his
master and returned to the lovely forest. The old chief monk lived
out the remainder of his life, died, and was reborn in a high
moral is: Unattached to wealth and power,