Author Topic: A Simple Story.  (Read 1124 times)

Offline Boodust

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A Simple Story.
« on: March 28, 2010, 11:05:24 am »
:Namaste:

Some where, once, a long time ago, I read this little story.

Maybe someone else can remember where I read it.   :)

This is just a retelling of the story from memory.

Once there was an illiterate man named Chang, who was considered by many in his village to be somewhat simple. But all agreed that he was , though simple, still a kind soul who always wished to do good and do no harm nor wish no ill on anyone.

One day a mendicant monk was passing along the road upon which the village lay. He stopped with his bowl and was given some rice by, as it happened, the simple man,
Chang. The monk had been hungry, and was thankful for the nourishment provided freely by Chang.

Being penniless, he still wished to bestow a gift on Chang. So he said to Chang, "I am but a poor monk, nevertheless I would like to share with you something of great value. Truly it is priceless. It is a great teaching".

Chang smiled and said he was happy to receive anything of such value, even if it were only words.

Then the monk sat down under the tree in front of Chang's hut and proceeded to recite the Prajna Paramita Sutra. This took some time, but simple Chang listened eagerly to all that the monk said.

When he was finished the monk said , "Now you have this Pearl of Great Wisdom and it's Great Heart."

Simple Chang answered, "Oh, dear sir, that was all so wonderful and interesting, but I am such a simple fellow - I cannot possibly keep all that in my head."

"Fear not," said the monk, Here are a simple couple of lines that you should be able to remember. Just repeat them constantly and you shall see wonderful results. It is a simple, but powerful mantra."

"Please teach me this mantra!" said Chang.

"It goes like this", said the monk, "gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!"
Chang did not recognize any of the words, but he repeated them a few times until the monk was sure he had memorized them. Then the monk took his leave.

Simple Chang was so pleased with this gift. So very happy that he had managed to memorize the mantra that he immediately retired into his hut, squatted comfortably on his sleeping mat and started to say the mantra over and over. He fell into a peaceful state and continued to repeat this mantra.

Each day Chang arose, ate a simple meal of rice and proceeded then to repeat the mantra. He repeated the mantra during all his activities. Soon he was able to repeat the mantra silently inside his head.

Everyone in the village soon noticed a change. There was a peace in the village that had not always manifested. The sun seemed to shine with a gentle warmth and the rains fell only at night, gently. The crops were very ripe and full. Babies chortled , lovers spooned, old friends helped each other. The village became known for its peaceful aura. The mayor of the village no longer walked with a limp, stubbing his toes constantly. Such small things , but large in the experience of the village. Everyone knew from whence this great good fortune came.

Years passed and Chang continued to chant the mantra. A certain amount of local fame fell to him and the village - all unawares to Chang. Soon this fame - of a great and powerful meditation master that resided in a small remote village - spread out across the land.

In a large, distant city word of this Powerful Meditation Master Chang came to the ears of a priest. He was impressed with what he heard and determined to visit the great master; so he packed a small bag and set off on foot to visit. He was on the road for many days. Everyone he questioned simply smiled and pointed further down the road.

Finally he topped a ridge and espied a small hamlet nestled in the hills. There was a glow over the village. He thought this must be Master Chang's village.

As he approached he noticed the breeze was very gentle and a sweet scent of flowers and ripe wheat was in the air. Birds were chirping merrily. The priest picked up his pace and entered the village. People smiled and bowed.

He saw a crude but solid hut over which and around which and from which there emanated a soft golden glow. Eagerly he approached the door of the hut, which stood open. He could hear the soft, almost inaudible murmur of repeated chanting inside.

When he entered he was surprised to see how simple and spartan the interior was, although by now the people of the village kept Chang's home in order so that he could concentrate on his mantra. Everyone knew from whence the village's bounty flowed.

"Ahem", said the priest. "You are Master Chang?"

Simple Chang was startled to hear himself called Master, even though he had grown old and gray over the years, but he thought it must only be politeness.

He nodded.

"I have travelled long from far away to learn your magic mantra", Master Chang", said the priest. "You must share it with me."

"gate gate paragate parathamgate bodji svoho!"


Chang said the mantra aloud for the first time in many years.

"gate gate paragate parathamgate bodji svoho!"

The priest started back in astonishment.

"But you are saying it all wrong!" exclaimed the priest. "That is not how it goes!" for he recognized the mantra from Prajna Paramita Sutra.

The priest sneered. Then he said, through his sneer, "You have it all wrong! It goes ..." and thus he recited, "gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!"

See - you were not pronouncing the words properly! Hah! And here I walked all this distance only to find you are a charlatan!

Chang did not know what a charlatan was, and this was the first unkind word and angry tone that he had heard for ... oh, many years. He faltered in his mantra. Worry creased his face for the first time in many years. Many many years. Many years of chanting the mantra just so over and over ... for many years "gate gate paragate parathamgate bodji svoho" ... and it was wrong? This shook Chang to his inner being.

But remembering the words of the kindly monk so many years before, he started again to recite the mantra as he always did every day. But the words did not flow so smoothly. And he stumbled over the svoho ... or was it svaha? Which was it? Oh no! had he been doing it wrong all those years? He started to cry - Chang had never cried in his life - but in his mind he saw the face of the kindly monk, so he sniffed up his tears and started the mantra again.

He repeated it, and he repeated it. But ... but ...

The angry priest had stalked out of Chang's hut and hustled imperiously down the road and out of the village. At the top of the ridge he looked back. There was no soft glow. The breeze had picked up - it whistled uncomfortably up the sleeves of his robe. he could smell the manure in the field next to the road.

"HAH! Charlatan!" he cried out, and turned and disappeared down the road into the distance.

Inside the hut Chang heard the faint cry of "Charlatan!"borne down to him by the stiff breeze that stirred a small cloud of dirt on his floor. He still did not know what the word meant, but it weasled itself into his awareness and interfered with his concentration. And ... what had the priest said? svoho or svaha? And why did he seem angry?

"Ahh dear me I do not know!"

Simple Chang  tried to recite the mantra, but hesitated in doubt. This way or that way? This way or that way?

Outside the mayor stubbed his toe for the first time in many years.

:Namaste

 


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