The Search for Wisdom

You may have heard the story of the wandering seeker who traveled many miles in search of wisdom. The knapsack he carried on his back contained all of his worldly possessions. After having traveled for several months through mountains, forests, and tiny towns, and having found, in his estimation, nothing of any value, he began to become more and more depressed. As his depression deepened, for he had expected to find enlightenment, he became lost in self-pity. Finally, he just couldn’t go on, so he dropped his knapsack to the ground and lay down on the side of the path to sleep.

Now someone had been watching him for sometime, a renown teacher he had met but had not recognized because of the teacher’s apparent ordinariness. The teacher knew she needed to give the man a shock in order to wake him up. So she snuck over to where he was sleeping and stole his knapsack. Then she walked up the path about a mile or so and set the knapsack down in the middle of the path.

When the man woke up, he unconsciously reached over to where he left his knapsack. But there was nothing there. He looked around, first in disbelief, and then in horror. When it finally sunk in that his knapsack was gone, he continued walking up the path, far more depressed than he had been before, telling himself that a thief must have stolen his knapsack, and wondering why this had to happen to him. He began crying loudly and bewailing his fate. As he continued slower and slower up the path, each step a terrible burden, he began to think about the last town he had been in and a “suspicious looking” man he had seen there. “This must be the man who stole his knapsack,” he thought darkly to himself. He began to castigate himself for his own foolishness, for not having taken precautions.

Sometime later, as he walked dejectedly around a bend in the path, he noticed in the distance an object on the ground. When he got closer and saw that it was his knapsack, he felt suddenly energized and ran to it with joy, realizing that some kind of miracle had just occurred. What a marvelous world, he thought to himself, as he straightened up, put the knapsack on his back and continued happily on his journey. Now with his spine erect and a smile on his face he could feel the ground beneath his feet, the sun on his head, and the air as it coursed through his lungs. What a marvelous world!

Many miles later, he ran into the teacher again. But this time, he was almost able to see through her “ordinariness.” Or rather, he was almost able to see that her “ordinariness” was exactly the miracle for which he had been searching for so many years. Of course, he didn’t yet fully understand the meaning of this. He didn’t yet understand that the teacher’s real name was “Life,” and that all he had to do was be wherever he was and listen carefully, and that all the secrets of the universe would be revealed to him.

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