A Zen master walks with a student in a dewy dawn. The student breaks the silence with a burning question. “Master, how does one become enlightened?” “You already are enlightened, all that is left is to wake up!”
The student misunderstood and leaped with joy at hearing the news, “Finally after years of work and dedication my enlightenment is complete!” He gathered his belonging and left his home to teach others the spiritual path. His joy was short lived as soon as he ran out of money and his stomach aches with hunger. “Why does no one listen to my teachings? Does no one see that I am enlightened?”
As the days grew longer his hunger deepened, and he begged for crumbs on the side of the road. No one seemed to even notice him there, let alone offer him a kind word or a morsel of food.
He walked to the market and placed two mangoes into his clothing, knowing that if he did not eat he would surely die. A woman saw his intentions and exposed his sin with a hideous scream, “Stop! Thief! Stop!” Men chased him through the forrest intending to kill him.
He hid from their sight and as he turned he found his teacher meditating beneath a tree. “Master! You must help me, you have said that I’m enlightened but it seems that no one can see it but you and me. What should I do? I have never suffered so much!” The master opened his eyes and looked at him tenderly, “My boy, simply wake up!”
Shannon opened her eyes, heart racing and saw her room. “It was only a dream,” she repeated, soothing herself. She got out of bed, it was Tuesday, and she was already going to be late for school. She had been up late the night before seeking enlightenment.