The Zen monastery stood in silence, under the shade of the old Willow. The clear stream gurgled its way over the pebbled path into the river that dispassionately drew itself away from its banks and moved ahead to unknown lands. The sky was clear and sunny with the afternoon warmth breaking the chill of the wind that winged across the branches blowing their leaves into the river as if trying to float them like boats upon the emerald waters.
As the leaves flew and float upon the waters, a herd of sheep followed by a shepherd boy happened to come by. The thirsty sheep drank from the clear stream and grazed upon the green pastures, while the shepherd laid himself on the grass and enjoyed the winter sun. The solace of this rest was stirred by the footsteps of Zen monks heading towards the monastery. The young shepherd looked at them as they entered it in their loose maroon robes. On his way back he peeped through the window of the monastery and saw the face of Buddha in deep meditation. His eyes were closed and all the monks offered fruits and delicacies at his feet.
The shepherd led the flock of sheep towards his home in the village while he kept thinking about what he saw inside the monastery. “So many fruits and delicious foods! Wow!” he thought to himself. “Tomorrow I will have my lunch with Buddha” he resolved in his mind. But waiting until next afternoon seemed too long! The whole night he kept tossing on his bed, his mother woke from the noise and chided him to go to sleep. So he made sure he was silent, but kept awake and couldn’t stop thinking about Buddha and his culinary fortunes.
The next morning he woke early and got ready. His mother was surprised and suspicious about his unusual readiness that day. He rushed to his friend’s place and asked him to take care of his sheep that day as he would be away for some very important business. Then he rushed over to the monastery and sat near the Buddha where all the monks placed the offerings and sat there with eyes closed. After a while he half opened his eyes to see if Buddha opened his eyes and started feasting upon the offerings. But Buddha still sat with eyes closed. The whole day passed and Buddha never opened his eyes. The poor shepherd hungrily kept waiting to have lunch with Buddha, and then finally after waiting for the whole day he felt tired and fell asleep near Buddha’s feet.
After a while a monk came and asked him why he was sleeping there. He woke and told him that he was waiting for Buddha to open his eyes and dine with him. The monk smiled at his naiveté and said, “That’s not a real Buddha, but only his statue”. This statement shook the poor shepherd from within. He plunged into deep thought and then asked, “If this is not the real Buddha, then where is the real Buddha?” This question struck him within and he sat there shocked like a stone. The question was deep, for the first time in his life he had thought about something so deeply that he sat there unmoved. He became totally numb to what was happening outside him. He thought to himself “If the idol is not Buddha, how could any-body else be? All else will also be a body if not of stone, but of flesh how does it matter. The Buddha must be something else; the real Buddha is something else….but what?” and in that self-enquiry this shepherd awakened to the deep truth of the Real Buddha within.
Author: Jyoti Prateek
Jyoti Prateek is a freelance spiritual poet/author who regularly contributes to The Awakening Times and other internet forums.
Her e- book ‘The Borrowed God and Other Stories’ is available at our store: awakeningtimes.com/product/the-borrowed-god-and-other-stories/
To read more of Jyoti Prateek’s works please visit her blog: unofficialsoulsearch.blogspot.sg/
Or connect with her through Facebook page.
About Song of the Being by Jyoti Prateek
Allegorical and Imaginative; at times the poems tend to take a mystical shape. The language is simple yet profound in meaning. The book expounds and illustrates the journey of a Being, where brief pauses in life provide insights. Poems are a good medium to simplify the thoughts and provide a natural rhythm to the flow of Being's experience through discovery of Love, that Inspires a Vision which finally paves the Path, as the Being moves along to maturity and realization of Self. This unique collection of Poems is bound to invoke thoughts and inspire the reader to explore own perspective towards life.