Words of Wisdom aims to highlight important morals, which we feel our readers will benefit from reading. We hope you enjoy this fable.
Sometimes, life lessons are hard to learn, and we require a few attempts before finally getting it.
A monastery of young monks couldn’t understand their master’s reasoning in his refusal to punish one of their own. But they finally got it, and the lesson is profound.
One highly respected abbot who lived in a monastery had many young monks under his tutelage. He taught them how to cultivate their hearts and how to discipline themselves. Many of his students later went on to become great masters thanks to his guidance.
One day, when a young pupil was caught red-handed stealing, the others angrily reported him to the abbot. The abbot, calm and unfazed before his flustered students, ignored the incident. He chose not to punish the thief.
Again the boy was caught stealing, but the abbot still refused to punish him when it was once again reported to him by his angry students.
All the other students were angered at this, and even went so far as to get everyone to sign a petition to demand the thief be banished. If the boy was not punished, they threatened to all leave the monastery.
The more they thought about the thief, the angrier they got. They seemed like anything but monks at this heated stage. Seeing how unharmonious the monastery had become, the abbot assembled all the students.
It was late at night, but it was time to resolve this issue once and for all.
“You are good students, and can determine what is right from wrong,” said the abbot, gazing at his pupils lovingly. “Should you leave, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble in being accepted at another monastery.”
As the abbot talked, one could tell his incredible breadth of mind and the genuine care he had for his students.
“But what about your brother who can’t differentiate right from wrong? Who will teach him if I don’t?” the abbot asked, his voice full of compassion.
“He needs my help, and I only want what’s best for him. He doesn’t know what kind of suffering and retribution he’s going to bring upon himself if he continues in this vein. It pains my heart to think about it.”
“No,” the abbot continued. “I won’t kick him out, even if it means losing all of you.”
On hearing the abbot’s words, the thief was greatly moved and cried uncontrollably. Despite his committing a dishonorable act, the abbot didn’t want to give up on him.
The boy who thieved announced that he would never steal ever again before the whole monastery, and begged for forgiveness. His words were sincere; his determination to make amends was undeniable.
All the students who were up in arms only moments ago seemed to have completely forgotten their anger and stood there in silence. The monastery was enveloped in compassion. Everyone could feel it.
The abbot’s mercy had melted everyone’s anger away. Their hate towards the boy who had stolen had dissolved, and they had no more thoughts of leaving. They realized they still had a lot of learning to do and turned back to their dormitories.
“How could we let ourselves get so angry like that?” said one regretful student. “Master taught us to treat all beings with compassion from Day 1, but we completely forgot his teachings when faced with the loss of our material possessions.”
“The reason why I came here in the first place was to cultivate,” chimed in another. “So, we’ve really got to learn a lesson from this. We shouldn’t get so annoyed and complain nonstop like we did before.”
“Yes,” said a third student, sighing. “Let’s just do better next time. But, I’ll say one thing … Master’s compassion is firmly etched into my heart from today’s incident. I’ll never forget it.”
As for the student who had repented, the abbot’s mercy changed his life. From that day forth, he aspired to cultivate the same kind of compassion as the abbot—which he enlightened was a beautiful kind of energy that could truly change a person for the better.
He realized compassion can melt steel, or in other words, even the hardest of hearts.
Every day, he put others’ needs before his own needs, he was proactive in helping his fellow students, he considered others’ feelings, he reminded himself not to be selfish, to be honest, to have a broad heart, and ensured to cultivate compassion at every waking moment.
As he worked hard to cultivate his heart each day, his meditation became profoundly blissful. Others admired his ability to sit so still in meditation for lengthy periods of time. In fact, his ability to achieve such tranquility came about from the ascension of his heart nature.
Gradually, he became known not as the boy who thieved but as the monk with a big heart of compassion for all. He was greatly respected by his peers, and the abbot was delighted to see his positive changes. It was absolutely heartening for the abbot.
The student went on to become a great master with students of his own and touched many a heart with his compassion.