Fiction – Parable
The monk was on his usual visit to the prison. It was a part of his daily routine to spend an hour in the prison with the intention of making the prisoners understand that what really makes a prison are not the iron bars and concrete walls but the inmate’s attitudes. It’s not the place you are in or the work you do that makes you happy or unhappy, he would say frequently. It’s how you view the place and the work that makes the difference.
Happiness lies in the mind, not anywhere outside. That was his basic premise.
“What’s your daily routine?” asked one of the prisoners whom the monk was counselling individually. The prisoner was a notorious murderer.
“We get up at 4 in the morning,” began the monk. The prisoner was stunned. He used to think that getting up at 6.30 as they used to do in the prison was a grave penance. He wanted to sleep till 10 o’clock.
The monk went on to narrate his daily routine. Four hours of meditation and prayer in the morning. Rigorous work after that: cleaning, washing, gardening, cultivating vegetables and fruits, looking after the dairy... Two hours of meditation and prayer in the evening. Then some personal reading of the scriptures or other religious books until one retires to bed.
“No TV, no drinks, no entertainment?” asked the prisoner with some disbelief.
“Not even newspapers,” answered the monk with an angelic smile. “Unlike you people in the jail, the monks can’t earn money to buy what we like.”
“That’s too tough,” concluded the prisoner with a deep sigh. “Tough indeed!” Then, after a brief thought, the prisoner added, “You know, if it all gets too hard, you could always come and live with us here.”
Acknowledgement: This parable is adapted from David Michie’s book, The Dalai Lama’s Cat.
Independence Day Greetings to you.