both/and

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the excluded middle way

The monk and the ink spots

It was the sixth week she’d seen the monk in Borders. Each time he had stayed all day, from opening till close, he was often the first to arrive and always the last to leave.

He never bought the books he read while in the store, although he did often buy others when he left. He wasn’t stealing, he’d spent over £120 dollars in the past couple of months, he never bothered anyone and could never be accused of loitering – he would often give up his seat for others, sometimes going out of his way to help someone find the book they needed when the staff were busy with other customers.

But his reading habits were odd. He was reading the same book again and again. Or, more accurately, he was reading different copies of the same book, again and again.

“I promised my Lama that I’d read everything he has written,” he said to the girl.

“But, he’s written 22 books and I know you’ve read them all cover-to-cover, several times over.”

“I don’t think I fully understand them”, he said. “Besides, each one is unique. The words are the same but each invididual splash on ink in each and every sentance of every paragraph on every page is a unique expression.”

“Don’t you get bored?” she asked.

“No, not really. Boredom comes from not appreciating the uniqness of each and every moment.”

“But wouldn’t you rather read something else, on the same topic? Perhaps a different Lama giving the same teachings, but from a different point of view or using different examples?”

“No” replied the monk. “The differences of each book just point to the similarities in the teachings. If I really want to see the uniqueness of each and every moment, the impermenance of all things, I must find it amongst the sameness.”

The girl smiled and went back to arranging the books on the shelf next to his.

The monk continued to read the fouth copy of ‘The King of Reasonings’.

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Filed under: Fiction, Guru, Humour, inspiration, Lama, practice, , , , ,

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