Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Prisoner and the Monk


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.

19 comments:

  1. I love your wry humor sir. :D

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    1. Happy, Sid, that you are able to appreciate the humour in this post. Wry, yes, you said it.

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  2. the post like always has touched me a lot and so much so that I am going to feature it on my blog as one of the best posts I read this week.It gave the perfect message for the consumerism era of our country..

    Richa

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    1. Richa, thank you very much. I wasn't sure that this post would be very much understood. You give me reason for immense hope.

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  3. Lovely... How's The Dalai Lama's Cat. I've been in two minds about the book.

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    1. Raghav, I'm still reading the book. When I complete it I'll write a proper review. When you make a cat the narrator there are a lot of problems. But this book was meant to teach certain basic principles of Buddhism which are also the basic principles of happy living. I've taken it at that level. I'm withholding further views for now.

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  4. The other side is always greener until you get a close up. Such a nice way to explain this concept. Love the Dalai Lama and hats off to you for bringing this out so well.

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    1. My pleasure, Athena. Apart from freedom and happiness, perspective is a major theme in the parable. Yes, it could be explained in terms of the other side being greener. But here the prisoner thinks of his own side as better than the monastic side.

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  5. What a nice and lovely read..What I liked was the Prisoners attitude towards the life he was living,a attitude to living a life happily even in closed walls..

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    1. Who is really happy in the story: the prisoner or the monk?

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    2. Well in my view if we see it in today's world context then it is obviously the Prisoner..

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  6. Very well written, Sir. Loved it.

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  7. mmm... yes, to control the mind and abstain from the worldly pleasures is rather more difficult than working tirelessly to amass wealth or doing time in prison.

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    1. Precisely.

      Yet becoming a monk is no guarantee for happiness, as the Dalai Lama says in the book. Everyone finds his/her unique way to happiness. The book suggests that it is the way of 'giving': love and compassion. Whatever work we may be doing we can do it with love and compassion.

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  8. LOL...the murderer is not so cruel as others would perceive :D

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    1. Or maybe a monk can bring out the good side of the murderer :)

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  9. hahaha.. what a perfect conclusion.. what bad then Rahul Baba say that Poverty is a state of Mind ..
    Some find pleasure in pain .. and some point out the pain in pleasure boils down to the same .. Happiness comes from within..
    I will tell you sir .. its your stories which speak so much about your persona .. what you take life as ..Inspiring you write Sir.. says the owl inside :)

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    1. Glad that I can tickle your owl, Jack. Most welcome here again and again.

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