Brian Wilcox. 'A Beautiful Absence'
News spread among the Sage's followers that this evening would be his most important teaching ever. No one knew how this news began, but all trusted it. The Sage himself had secretly directed a follower to start sharing this announcement, and from thence it spread among all.
Persons started arriving, each sitting around and looking at the empty chair the Sage usually sat in when teaching. The time came for the teaching to begin, and the Sage was late. They were concerned, for he always appeared in advance of any gathering or meeting, whether formal or informal.
To everyone's surprise, the Sage never appeared. Several went looking for him but could not find him. They told the group, and everyone assumed he must have gone off somewhere for some pressing matter that had arisen. However, unknown to them, the Sage had taken a hike into the wood, intentionally missing the gathering.
The next evening, everyone gathered again. The Sage sat in the chair, arriving early. When time began for the teaching, he asked, "Does anyone have a question?" One said, "Yes, we missed you last night. We'd heard you were going to give us your most important teaching ever." This one asked, "Are you going to give us this teaching tonight?" "No," said the Sage, "I gave it to you last night. Did you listen?" "No, you never came."
The Sage looked over the group, "Did anyone receive the lesson last night?" No one had. The Sage, getting up from the chair, said, "Then, you can listen tonight." While the Sage began walking away, he heard, "But you're leaving. What are we to listen to?" "Listen," he said, "to the empty chair."
I would like to elaborate on this koan, but that would betray the intent of the Sage. Hence, I can only say with the Sage, "Listen to the empty chair."
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©️ Brian Wilcox, 2020
*Brian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org; his book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, is available through major online booksellers, including Amazon and Books-A-Million, or via the publisher, AuthorHouse.