One day there was a young man, a traveler, walking down a path with beautiful surroundings. Rivers, trees, and meadows kissed by the light of the sun, everything around him emanated a soft glow. The beauty of this day was witnessed by all his senses but failed to touch his heart.
The warmth of the sun on his skin, the song of the birds, the fresh smell of the grass that the wind carried into his nose – none of those things found their way into his being, to fill him with joy. Life’s Symphony was in perfect tune, but the young man couldn’t attune to its rhythm. The story he carries around with him, a script written with ink that has dried a long time ago, weighed on him like a heavy burden on his shoulders.
He was walking for quite a while until his eyes saw a little village on the horizon. “Finally, I need to rest.” he thought to himself. Hours passed before he reached the village and he was craving a good meal and a bed to spend the night in. He found a small tavern where he booked a small room for himself and ordered some food.
A faithful encounter
He was sitting at the table, waiting for his meal as he noticed a monk sitting at a table in the right corner of the tavern. He was astonished by the monk, the way he ate, it looked like art. Mindfully did he picked up one piece of vegetable after another without hurrying to finish his meal. It looked like art.
“No wonder those monks are so relaxed if all they do is sitting around and eating a bowl of rice once in a while,” he said to himself quietly. As he said that to himself, he felt guilty, because the peace that was emanating from the monk is exactly what he was looking for. His meal was served and he ate. The warm food did him good as it took away his attention from the chatter in his mind for a bit.
As he finished his meal, he looked at the monk one last time before he stood up to go into his room to rest for the night. As he laid down in the silence of the clear night he could feel the heavy burden that was weighing him down, his head felt as if it’s filled with stones, preventing him to get the sleep he needed.
“When is this going to end ?” he asked himself as he looked out of the window into the night sky. A calmig scenery of flickering start made itself present to him. “Where there is darkness, there is light.” he thought to himself. He finally fell into a deep sleep from which he awoke the next morning, feeling a bit refreshed, but the heavy burden was ever-present. He packed his bag and left the room, walked downstairs into the taverns restaurant. The monk wasn’t there and it was very quiet, just two men were sitting at the bar, mumbling about something.
As the young man opened the door to leave to go his way, he bumped into the monk. “I’m sorry, I didn’t pay attention.” said the young traveler. He looked into the monks face he couldn’t see a single sign of anger. “Don’t worry, neither did I.” said the monk and smiled. The traveler was about to leave when the monk turned around and said:” I noticed how you looked at me last night and I sensed that there is something troubling you.” “How.. how do you know that ?” the traveler asked amazed and curious. “It’s easy to read people’s minds if it’s seen in their face.” the monk answered.
“What is it that troubles you so young man?” asked the monk smiling. “No matter where I go, no matter what I do, regrets, guilt, and frustration about my past are ever-present. Life has become heavy and exhausting with this baggage on my shoulders.” The monk nodded.. and smiled. He asked the young man to sit down on a flat rock on a walking track nearby. The young man did and so did the monk. They had a breathtaking view in front of them. “I know that whatever happened in your past brought you a lot of pain, but I want you to look around, try to be present and take in what is present around you with all your senses.”
A story of letting go
“What do you see?” asked the monk. “A canvas of nature’s art, a very beautiful one.” “So I would like to ask you if whatever happened in your past is really that bad, if it brought you to where you are right now, right here, in this moment?” The traveler thought about what has been said. “You are right, indeed am I very lucky to be here, but it is hard to enjoy the present when it’s looked at from the past.”
“Do you have a coin that you could lend me ?” asked the monk calmly. The young man gave the monk a coin, followed by a questioning look. “See this coin as your past. It represents everything you’ve ever experienced. Every moment of happiness, every moment of sadness, every loss and every gain, all the experiences that molded you into who you are today. Could it be, that although these things are making you suffer, you don’t let them go, because you fear what might be left, once it’s been let go of ?” “Yes, one could say so..” the young man answered.
“You can’t continue this way. You can try to numb whatever is going on within yourself and you can do so very succesfully, but don’t deny yourself of your inner world, no matter what kind of demons you may encounter there. Never run away from that which you carry everywhere your feet take you.” ” Place the coin in your palm please.” He did as the monk said. “Now close your hand, turn it upside down and open your hand.” As he did what the monk said, the coin fell on the ground. ”
See, this is what you try to do. You carry pain, regrets, and frustration in you, all because of your past. You wish to get rid of that, which is an understandable thing to do. It is your approach that might be causing you to suffer, not what you feel within yourself. You try to rid yourself of all the things that weigh you down by simply dropping it as if it’s not there, but you need to feel all that needs to be felt and you need to forgive yourself for all that happened and all you did to yourself and to others. Accept your past and learn from it. Your past is not something you need to be ashamed of or frustrated about, it is your very best teacher. Welcome it.”
The young man understood the monk and smiled. ” Could you pick up this coin and give it back to me please?” He picked up the coin and gave it back to the monk. “Now I want you to put the coin back in your hand.” The young man did as the monk said. “See.. we all experience pain and loss, we all do things we regret afterward, we are humans, we do those things called mistakes, but don’t give those things more energy and attention than they deserve. Let it be there, the pain, the frustration, and the regrets and forgive yourself..” “But who am I beyond my past?” asked the traveler.
“Let me show you” – “Close your hand but don’t turn it upside down.” He did as the monk said. “Now open your hand again.” The coin was still in his hand, but at the same time, he let go of it. He then realized that it wasn’t the burden he carried around with him, that brought him suffering, but the fear to find out, who he is without it.”See what frightens most people is the fear of letting go, no matter what it is and this fear gets even bigger when they come close to losing it which makes them hold on to it even more. The middle way is to let go and to keep it at the same time, without holding onto it. That’s freedom. Own your past, but don’t let it own you.”
“I understand, but I still don’t know who I am then.” “You are what you decide to be. All roads are open for you, you must decide which one you’ll go down, only when you let go of the old way, a new way of living, of being, can be born in you.”
The traveler’s eyes lit up and he took a deep breath and said “Thank you, you helped me a lot!” The monk gave him a hug and went his way and so did the traveler, except now, the only burden he truly carried was the weight of his bag.