*Brian Wilcox. 'listening to the sea'. Flickr
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A continuance of encounters with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
A visitor came to meet the sage in private. She was struggling with her meditation practice. After meditating for several years, her mind was tumultuous, even more so, it seemed, than before she began meditating. She said, "Iíve tried to calm the mind, but Iíve always had a busy mind, even since a small child, and I donít know want to do now. Sometimes, I feel like giving up, just quitting my meditation."
The sage shared with her the story of the Temple with a Thousand BellsÖ
A temple was built on an island and had a thousand bells. There were bells big and small, fashioned by the finest craftsmen in the world. When the wind blew or a storm raged, all the bells would peal out in a symphony that would send the heart of the hearer into raptures. Over the centuries the island sank into the ocean and, with it, the temple and its bells.
An ancient legend said that the bells still rang out ceaselessly and they could be heard by anyone who would listen. Inspired by this legend, a young man traveled thousands of miles across sea and land, determined to hear the bells. After arriving, he sat for days on the shore, facing the vanished island and listening with all his might for the bells. All he heard was the sound of the sea churning and roaring. He made every effort to block out the chaos of the sea, but to no avail; the sound of the sea seemed to flood the shore, even the world.
The determined young man kept at his task for weeks, trying to hear the bells. Each time, failing to hear them, he got more disheartened, even, at times, angry. Every few days, he would walk into the nearby village and listen to the villagers, as they spoke to him with unction of the mysterious legend. His heart would be inflamed to try again, only to become discouraged when further efforts yielded no results.
Finally, he decided to give up his efforts to hear the pealing of the thousand bells. Perhaps, he thought to himself, that he was not destined to listen to the bells. Maybe the legend was not even true, he contemplated.
On his final day in the foreign land, before returning over land and sea to his own country, he went to the shore to say goodbye to the sea and the sky and the wind and the coconut trees, these all having been his companions for many weeks. He lay on the soft, warm sand, and for the first time, listened to the sea. He listened to the waves, the movements of tide in and out, the roaring when the breakers broke, and the sound of the waters moving onto shore and returning to open sea again. Soon, he was so lost in the sound that he was barely conscious of himself, so deep was the silence that had arisen within him and seemed to embrace his body.
In the depth of that silence, he heard the tinkle of a tiny bell. This one sound was followed by the sound of another bell, and more and more, until every one of the thousand temple bells was pealing out in exuberant harmony. And this symphony rapt his heart and body in joyous ecstasy. He rested in this peace for several hours, but what seemed like timelessness.
Then, before leaving to journey home, he visited one last time the villagers. He told them of the miracle of the bells. When asked how he had come, at last, to hear the bells, he said, "I came here to listen to the bells, I had to learn to listen to the sea." They all smiled, and he sensed, in the look of those smiles, they already, too, had learned that same lesson.
*Brian Wilcox. 'Illuminations'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
*The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.
*Story adapted from Anthony DeMello. Song of the Bird.