The Happy Monk

争春未肯降
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once upon a time, there was a high class rich man. as he became older, he realized that the suffering of oldage 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 monk1. he practiced meditation2 and developed his mind. he freed himself from unwholesome(不健康的) thoughts, and became contented3 and happy. his peacefulness and friendliness4 gradually drew 500 followers5 to his side.

at that time, long ago, most monks6 usually looked pretty serious. but there was one monk who, even thoughhe was quite dignified7, always wore at least a little smile. no matter what happened, he never lost this glimmer8 of inner happiness. and on happy occasions, he had the broadest smile, and the warmest laughter of all.

sometimes monks, as well as others, would ask him why he was so happy that he always wore a smile. he chuckled9 and said, "if i told you, you wouldn't believe me! and if you thought i spoke10 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.

one year, 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.

this king was a good man, who took his responsibilities as ruler seriously. he tried to protect the people from danger, and increase their prosperity and welfare. he always had to worry about neighboring kings, some of whom were unfriendly and threatening. he often had to make peace between his own rival ministers ofstate.

sometimes his wives fought for his attention, and forthe advancement11 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!

as summer approached, he learned that the monkswere preparing to return to the forest. considering thehealth and welfare of the old leader, the king went to himand said, "your reverence12, you are now very old andweak. what good does it do to go back to the forest? you can send your followers back, while you remain here."

the chief monk then called his number one assistantto 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.

the number 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 tothe chief monk. however, the one from the forest justkept saying, "what happiness! oh what happiness!" he didnot 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 toeven 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?"

the head monk replied, "oh king, have patience and i will tell you the source of his happiness. not many knowit. he was once a king, just as rich and mighty13 as you! then he was ordained14 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 suchinner peace, that he cannot keep from saying, 'what happiness! oh what happiness!'"

the king understood at once. hearing the story ofthe happy monk made him feel at peace. he stayed for awhile and received advice from both of them. then hehonored them, and returned to the palace.

later the 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 hislife, died, and was reborn 'in a high heaven world.

the moral is: unattached to wealth and power,happiness increases.

弦月眉心 2024-04-20 11:59:20

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