‘A young man leaves home to look for truth. He goes to a well-known guru who lives on the banks of the river. ‘Please, sir,’ he says to the old man, ‘allow me to stay with you. I want to learn the truth from you.’ And the guru agrees. And so he washes his clothes, cooks for him, and performs all kinds of tasks for the old teacher. After five years, he says to the master, ‘I’ve spent five years with you but I still don’t know the what the truth is and haven’t learned a thing. So if you don’t mind , I’ll leave you. Perhaps I can find another teacher, from whom I can learn more about the truth.’ ‘I don’t mind,’ says the old man, ‘go right ahead.’
So the young chap goes off and finds several other gurus, from whom he learns various magic tricks. After another five years have passed, he remembers his old teacher and goes to visit him. ‘So what have you learned?’ the old man asks him. And his former student tells him that he can walk on hot coals, levitate and so on. ‘Is that all?’ the guru asks. The young man points at the river in front of them and says proudly, ‘And I can walk on the waters of that river to the opposite shore.’ ‘And it took you five years to learn that,’ the old master exclaims, ‘when over there, fifty yards from here, you can take the ferry boat across for two pence!’
Questioner: I like this story .. however could you explain it to me? The first part I get, I think. i.e the master is teaching the student journey without a goal, or the goal being the experience of living itself, no more, the inescapable present. However the second part slightly confuses me. So this young chap goes off to master all types of manipulation of energy.. comes back, shows the master about it by walking on water.. although functionally speaking he could get the ferry and it would be far quicker. What is the importance of this second part? 1) Is it that ultimately everything the student learns serves little point in terms of ultimate enlightenment. 2) That everything he has learned is ego generated. 3) That it is a distraction to the underlying present? 4) That the master has unhealthy envy, and as a result is trying to downgrade the prize the student has attained?
Keeb: You are asking the right questions and some are more relevant than others. I want you to tell me which ones feel more relevant.
Questioner: I guess answer 1 and 3 feel relevant, and 2 is part of the distraction .. the student seems to be overcomplicating something that is very simple.. All of these things he is doing are all dead ends, maybe he is no closer the truth then when he started ..(and what is required is surrender?) surrendering to what? I know they are dead-ends but surely they have some merit in themselves? Walking on water must be a worthy goal for a truth seeker?.. It depends i guess on what exactly the seeker is seeking … What is this truth he is seeking? Is it a problem if he doesn’t find it?
Keeb: It is amazing what we can discover for ourselves without being guided by another. You are definitely thinking the right way. I shall pose further questions rather than just provide an answer, which would be worthless. Starting with number 4) let’s work backwards.
4). That the master has unhealthy envy, and as a result is trying to downgrade the prize the student has attained.
See how childish we are, how excited we get by the most trivial of things? What is the real miracle: a man who can walk on water but is still caught in the web of desire or a man who understands himself completely, who is tranquil, serene and at peace. Freedom is to be and to exist without conflict, any conflict at all. We all say we understand this yet our mischief continues, which means we don’t.
3). That it is a distraction to the underlying present?
Wisdom is full alertness of whatsoever is happening in the present moment (inwardly and outwardly, together as one) and it only comes into being when there is the ending of striving.
2). That everything he has learned is ego generated.
Can the mind, which is the known, ever understand or comprehend the unknown? Meditation begins when there is freedom from the known, from our mind, frustrations and projections. How can the known be free of the known if it is using the activity of the known? The ego is the known, it is activity, and so the ego never release the ego. Order cannot be enforced (through control) because order is freedom, where the enforcer is not. Despite the illusions man has invented, the higher self, the atman, the ego is always operating whenever there is a centre; whenever there is a direction.
Also, is truth something to be found? How do we know we’ re looking for? What you find may be satisfying, it may be a miracle (or most likely, not) but you cannot call it truth. The mind has a tendency to engage in its own illusions.
1). Is it that ultimately everything the student learns serves little point in terms of ultimate enlightenment.
Does not fear exist in the fear of not achieving a long-term goal? Does not fear exist in the conflict of opposites between what we are and what we would like to be? Where is attachment when one has a goal? Remember, freedom has no dependency. It is really important for us to ask these questions: and principally whether or not thought can be free? This needs to be understood not intellectually, not verbally but in the very essence of our being. One must go to the very end of that question. The mind then realises what it can and cannot do, and a new intelligence arises.