The Sleepless Monk

By Admin on 23-06-2010

Seven years ago, I visited the place called Dharansala,
home of the Dalai Lama. The hillside town is seven thousand feet up the
Himalayan Mountains. This town attracts many seekers. “The Traveler’s
Hotline” assured us that the person to see was this legendary 24-hour
lama. A Buddhist monk who had gone without sleep for several years, he had
achieved this remarkable feat by the simple technique of meditating instead of
taking his “beauty sleep.”

“He must be a wise person,” I thought as I set
off for a 5-hour trek to a remote monastery where their 24-hour man resided. I
figured that since he had so much time on his hands, maybe he would grant me an
audience. Six hours later, I was ushered into a Spartan cell, where sat the man
who had not dreamt in years. I was astounded by the Buddha-like tranquility he
seemed to emanate. I felt humbled in the presence of this sublime being.

The friendly English-speaking monk, who had found him for
me, whispered, “Make your offering, maybe Lama give your blessing.”

I decided I’d make a dash for wisdom and ask a question,
instead of a blessing. The monk whispered into Mr. Tylenol Nightmare’s ear,
“What question would you like to ask?”

  “How do I best progress spiritually?”

 More whisperings in a dark, exotic language…My translator
friend announced, “Lama say, don’t leave on Saturday.” The 24-hour
lama nodded in my direction and then carried on beaming.

   I was furious! A 5-hour trek, a rucksack full of goodies to
take as offerings – and now a 5-hour walk back down a treacherous Himalayan
trail. I was in a reflective mood: maybe I’d expected too much. What did I want
from him? Instant enlightenment? Some wisdom would’ve been nice, but
“Don’t leave on Saturday”?! Maybe this was some kind of Zen Buddhist
paradox within these mundane phases that contained some great gem of wisdom,
but dam it! He was a Tibetan Buddhist!!

  On Sunday morning, waiting at the coach station for the bus
that would take an arduous, 10-hour journey down the vast mountain, my
traveling companion stormed up to me and furiously exclaimed, “Bloody
great! A 3-hour delay! I just chatted with that policeman over there…he
reckons Saturday’s coach had crashed with 14 people dead…The road’s blocked
with rescue vehicles…Good thing we didn’t leave yesterday, like we

  I was in a state of shock. My mind raced back to the
beaming Buddha. I was filled with wonderment and joy. He had given me the
perfect answer to my question. Had I left Saturday, there would have been no
more spiritual progression. The mundane answer to my oh-so-important question
was stunning in its magnificence.

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Stories coming under the categories of Gems Hub and Folk’s Track - shown on behalf of Guests are true/moral stories from Indian Thoughts Archives. Indian Thoughts have a proud store of unpublished stories from around the world which are being published at a regular frequency.