When I first started down the path I was consumed by the goal of one day becoming enlightened. Then, I traveled down the path a little more and that desire began to gradually fade away. Now, as I find myself slightly further down the path I see that even the concept of enlightenment is a distraction and a potential trap from getting on with the truly all-important spiritual work of becoming a compassionate, humble and peaceful being.
“The Secret of Emptiness”
By: Forrest Rivers
A disciple approached his master and asked:
“Venerable One, what is Emptiness?”
The master smiled warmly and pointed his finger
At jagged snowcapped peaks, off in the distance
The disciple bowed and began walking
In the direction of the glorious mountains
Then, suddenly, he froze in terror as a mighty cougar
Crossed his path
The disciple shot a frightful look at his master
Who now calmly stood pointing his finger at the wild being
After a few tense moments, the cougar slowly walked away
And the master lowered his finger
Bewildered, the disciple inquired of the sage once more:
“But I thought you said the mountains were emptiness?
How can the cougar be it too?”
The master smiled and again pointed his finger
But this time at his disciple’s feet
The disciple looked down and then back up
Only to see the same cougar cross his path again
He turned in horror and ran as fast as his feet would carry him!
When the cougar was finally out of sight,
the disciple stopped to catch his breath
And he attained instant enlightenment!
Forrest Rivers is a writer and teacher who lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His new book, COVID-19 and Humanity’s Spiritual Awakening is now available on Amazon HERE.
“The Greatest Miracle: A Parable for Today”
By: Forrest Rivers
A large protest in the middle of town erupted as contending masses of people gathered. Those for and against the theme of protest quickly began engaging in a war of words as extremists on one side of the conflict began readying their home-made explosives for combat. Extremists from the other side also began loading their automatic rifles with ammunition and let out a loud and terrifying battle call. The air grew thicker with tension as women and children from both camps retreated to the rear of their respective groups in anticipation of an all-out war between the dueling partisans.
But in the final seconds just before the first explosives were thrown and the first shots were fired, a monk in a red robe suddenly appeared standing on the frontline right between the two groups. The monk sat down on the hot pavement, closed his eyes and fell into a deep meditation. Then, to everyone’s total surprise, the monk began to levitate before all gathered. After floating five feet above the ground for at least three minutes the monk then opened his eyes and said the following:
“I believe miracles are a part of our daily existence. In fact, I predict that one will happen today and you will all bare witnesses to it!”
In response to the levitating monk, the extremists on both sides quickly disarmed their explosives and guns and then locked arms as they formed a circle of peace around the mysterious teacher. On that fateful day, it has been said that the greatest miracle occurred.
“The Journey: A Parable”
By: Forrest Rivers
A seeker of truth journeyed two hundred miles (322 Kilometers) by foot deep through lush green forests to have the darshan of a great and celebrated holy man who lived an aesthetic life high in the mountains. After two long weeks of trekking through the wilderness, this seeker of truth at last arrived at an old hermitage that sat on the edge of a breathtaking cliff overlooking the vast and fertile valleys below. The pilgrim knocked on the door three times and a tall old man answered. He then motioned for the young seeker to come inside and sit on the floor before him. The old man closed the door behind him and then took a seat on a small wooden bench. Both beings sat in the lotus position. The pilgrim who had traveled such a long distance then broke the awe filled silence and said:
“Oh, dear and venerable sage, I have come all this way to ask you but one question: What is life’s greatest secret?”
The old man smiled, then unfolded his hands and said the following with a hint of irony in his voice:
“Life’s greatest secret is that there is no destination. It is your journey that holds the one within all. Now tell me, young pilgrim, does this statement live as truth to you?
The seeker smiled real wide and the twinkle in her eyes made the old sage absolutely certain that she had just attained enlightenment in that moment!
If I knew, I would
Share the secrets of this Universe
If I could, I would
Voyage with you
To the depths
Of inner wisdom
If I heard that you
Had entered the cave of enlightenment
I would drop to my knees and exalt
This sacred green Earth we walk on
If I saw the light
Of illumination in your eyes
I would sit beneath the Bodhi tree and pray:
For all souls’ deliverance
Into your world
Of seeing One.