He looked into the bag and he said, “My God!” The old man laughed, threw the bag, and sat under a tree; he could not stop laughing.
The young man said, “Why are you laughing so much?”
He said, “I am laughing because you have done the right thing, and for almost one mile I have still been befooling myself with those stones, thinking they were gold. Now we can sleep under this tree. It is good. There is no fear and there is no hurry.”
He could have been angry at the young man and missed the point. But he laughed, laughed madly, because he could see the point: “It was so stupid of me. The young man has proved far more intelligent than me. My own disciple had to teach me the lesson.”
They slept the whole night, and in the morning the old man touched the feet of the young man and thanked him, “Although I am your master, you helped free me from an illusion. And I slept so deeply the whole night. I had not slept for a few nights because of that bag; those golden bricks would not let me sleep. Even in the night I was groping in the bed and trying to find out whether they were there or not. Those bricks had become so important that I lost my joy, I abridged my prayers, I abridged my meditation.”
As far as existence is concerned, gold and rock are not different – it is human illusion, we have projected it. If man is no longer in this world, gold will not be gold; although it will still be itself, there will be no difference in the valuation between it and a rock. The valuation and the difference is our projection – and then we suffer.
So the insight in that small anecdote is great. If you can laugh at yourself when any of your illusions fall away, soon you will be able to live without illusions, to live without hallucinations, to live without projections. And to live without all these things means to live in peace, and to live in silence, and to celebrate the small things of life.
I remember once hearing you tell us that Buddha’s definition of truth was: that which works. It struck me as almost audacious, and yet totally pragmatic, and for both reasons I loved it.
My understanding is that your definition of truth is probably the same, that you will do and say anything at all, in the name of truth, that might prod us in the right direction.
I would love to hear you speak to us on this.