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Nandita Kochar

Once there was a Zen master who lived atop a mountain which descended into a dense forest. One day a dedicated disciple of his came to visit. The master and the disciple have a very fulfilling meeting. But as the sun starts to set, the disciple begins to worry whether he should leave or else he would have to cross the dense dark forest in order to reach his village.

But the presence of his master is so enchanting that the disciple keeps lingering on and on. And then it is almost midnight, when the master tells him to go. The disciple looks outside and there is no moon, he becomes apprehensive. To cross the woods at midnight would be dangerous.

Seeing this, the master asks what the matter is. The disciple explains him his worry and that he feels afraid to leave now. So the master lights a candle, hands it over to him and asks him to carry it.

When the disciple is getting to ready to leave, the master calls him over and blows the candle. Suddenly, there is darkness all over and silence, as well.

The disciple looks absolutely confused. The master says, “Be a light unto yourself. My light is not going to help you or your cause after all it is a borrowed light. You must find your own light. Your life is going to be full of dark patches just like the one you will encounter tonight. These patches will be full of risks and danger. But you must continue striving to find your own light.”

The disciple does understand what the master is trying to teach him. However, when seen in the context of his current situation, the disciple still does not understand.

The master laughs and the echo of his laughter spreads all across the forest. He says,”Now there is absolutely no need. I see that you see that something has happened. I understand what has happened, but I cannot say it to you. I know you cannot understand it but when it happens next time, by and by it will become familiar, and you will start understanding it.”

“But remember, when you already understand something, your mind will automatically put it on the shelves where it is likely to catch dust as years pass by. That is the sad truth about knowledge. However, when you do not understand something and are still learning about it, there is an opening, a path yet to be unexplored. Never be afraid to walk on it.”

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