The Sound of Truth

The following is a wonderful story that manages to capture a medley of truths:

A devoted meditator, after years of practising a particular mantra, attained adequate insight to begin teaching. After teaching for a couple of years, he learned about a famous hermit living nearby and decided to pay him a visit.

The hermit lived alone on an island in the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row him to the island. The meditator was eager to learn more about the old hermit, and as they shared some tea the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra, which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself, but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!

“What’s wrong?” asked the hermit.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid you’ve wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!”

“Oh, dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?”

The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could start practising right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.

“It’s so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practise correctly before he dies.” Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.

“Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I’ve forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?”

“You obviously don’t need it,” stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.

The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island.

 

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