The Modern Disciple
There was once a disciple who lived in the forest with his Master. One cold dark night, it was raining heavily and the roof began to leak. The Master said to his disciple, “My son, climb up onto the roof and find where the rain is coming in. Do whatever you can to stop the leak.”
Now, the disciple wanted to follow his Master’s wishes but he thought to himself, “It is cold and dark out there and I shall get very wet. I could easily slip and fall and break my leg, and anyway I do not think I wish to go out there at all.”
“Master,” he said, “if I go up on the roof, I would have to go higher than you. I couldn’t possibly do that, it would be most disrespectful!”
The Master said nothing, but went quietly outside into the rain, climbed onto the roof, and mended the leak himself. When he came down he noticed they had run out of firewood.
So he said to his disciple, “My son, go out into the forest and collect some wood for the fire.”
Now, again, the disciple wanted to follow his Master’s wishes, but thinking of the forest, he felt afraid. “It is so dark out there, and there are wild animals. I could easily get hurt. I could even be eaten alive.”
His mind raced around, looking for a way out. “Master,” said the disciple, “to leave you and go out into the forest I would have to turn my back on you. I couldn’t possibly do that, for it would be most disrespectful.”
Again the Master said nothing, but went quietly out into the forest, and collected some wood for the fire.
When he returned with the wood, it was time to prepare the evening meal. He cooked it, and when it was ready he called to his disciple, “My son, the meal is prepared, come now and eat.”
At this the disciple came running and threw himself at his Master’s feet, saying earnestly, “O my Master, please forgive me! Twice I have disobeyed you. I could not possibly disobey you a third time. This time I will certainly do as you bid.”
Tales of the Mystic East