The Zen Priest Recalls an Old Story & Thinks It Points to Something

The Zen Priest Recalls an Old Story & Thinks It Points to Something January 9, 2020

The sages of the intimate way tell a story.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, and, of course, very, very far away there was a man. In his youth he’d been called into the practices of the intimate way. And even considered becoming a monastic. But, well, life.

He entered the family business, buying and selling cloth. It involved travel. He experienced much and he learned many things. Eventually both his parents died. He had no siblings. And, while he had some dalliances, he never found a partner in love. So, there was a longing that settled uncomfortably in the back of his heart.

However, gradually he became rich. All in all he felt vaguely content. Although his dreams churned up clouds of stories of other paths he might have followed. And there was that longing.

Then, as happens in life, a couple of bad business deals, and then having overextended himself, his creditors called in his debts, and he was ruined.

All he had left was a small house. And he feared he would even lose that.

Then, one night he had the dream.

In it he saw a street in the regional capital. Just as it led onto a bridge there was a lamp post. A voice whispered in his ear that at the base of the lamp post a treasure had been buried.

He awoke sweating.

And he recalled every single detail of the dream.

Having lost nearly everything, he decided, why not? It was time to roll the dice, and to see whether the dream told the truth. With the clothing he stood up in, and carrying only a shovel, he took off for the city. It was a four-day walk, and it wasn’t comfortable. One day it rained. Another a dog almost bit him and chased him for half a mile.

Finally, he arrived. It was dusk and the lamp post had been lit and was a bright spot in the gathering gloom.

Seeing no one around he began to dig.

No sooner than he began than a policeman arrived and yelled at him to stop.

He was desperate and told the policeman everything.

The policeman was carrying a cudgel and patting his left hand with the stick, he laughed. He said, “I’ve had a recurring dream of a buried treasure, myself. It’s in a basement with a dirt floor, under a couch itself covered with a throw rug in the design of the artists of the south. You don’t see me packing up and taking off.”

He paused and looked at the impoverished man, who began to shake. The policeman waved his cudgel and said, “Be off with you. If you don’t want to taste this stick, you’ll find another lamp. And it better not be on my beat.”

The man left. He recognized the basement as his very own.

And as quickly as he could he returned home. There he dug at the spot the policeman described. And, there was the treasure. Enough to last him a lifetime.

The sages of the intimate way after telling this story tell us if we reflect on this story, that it has several points to consider, we may indeed find a vast treasure.

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