In the wee small hours when I cannot sleep, when the moon is high in the sky and the stars feel like you can reach out and touch them. I often ask for stories from the Guides, I still love stories and always the stories come back to me and I share them. There is always value in passing on learning no matter how small we think it is, or how little, there is always a chance to grow from another's experiences.
The Wise Man on the Hill:
High up in the mountains there was an old hermit, he had been there for so long that no one from the village below really even knew how long he had been there or why he was there. They brought him food, water and placed it outside his hut and then bowing would solemnly leave again. The old man would nod his head in thanks and go back to looking out across the mountains. Some thought that the old man was senile, had lost his mind in the height of this life and was living in memories on the top of the hill.
However, there was one small boy, having grown up knowing about the old man on the hill, he wanted to know so many things. He wanted to know WHY about everything. His mother would frown at him. "Stop asking so many questions all the time. Life is what it is, do not question everything!" He would look contrite for a time and then after a time go right back to asking questions. "Why was the sky blue" "Why do birds seem so happy when they sing and fly". "Why was there seasons". Why, why why.
One day when the boy was about 8 years old his mother called to him. "It is your turn to take the food to the old man up the hill. Go safely, surely and give him his meal, do not linger and DO NOT ask questions!". She glared at him for a moment and then tussled his hair. She smiled and leaned down, "Just be quick, ok?" He looked at her and nodded, beaming at her, he set off to take the meal up the hill.
He carefully carried the meal in the small halter pack she had given him and climbed the hill nimbly, his bare feet exploring the pathway and learning the steps. He was surprised how quickly he was climbing the hill and was very surprised when he looked back down the pathway how very steep it was, and how much he could see out over the valley. He stopped for a moment and allowed his mind to wander over the view. Why did mountains grow so high. He wondered and laughed. There he was again asking questions, but with no one to ask them to.
A voice whispered beside him "Because they can" and he jumped out of his skin. He turned and looked into the black intelligent eyes of a crinkled old man, stooped with age, weathered by seasons and leaning on a intricately carved cane. The boy quickly lowered his eyes and looked embarrassed. The old man reached out and lifted his chin. "There is no embarrassment in asking important questions, as long as they are important.. a" he whispered in a reed thin voice. The boy tentatively smiled at him "Really?" The eyes shone like hot coals in the fire for a moment, "If one does not ask, how will one know the answer?". The boy nodded, he had thought this exact same thought many times. "However, if one asks a question, they must truly listen to the answer WITHIN the answer".
The old man gestured towards his hut which the boy had not even noticed, and they climbed the last part of the steep pathway together. The old man settled himself on a flat rock overlooking the valley below and the boy politely laid out the meal for the old man. Curiosity was building inside him and he was smothering so many questions. The old man turned and looked at him. "You will give yourself stomach ache if you hold onto your questions for too much longer". The boy looked startled. "How did you know I have so many questions?" he asked.
The old man looked at him knowingly. "One can have many questions, seek many answers, but in truth it is not the questions that are important nor the answers. What is important is the listening". The boy thought about this for a moment and frowned. "But surely all questions have answers?" The old man smiled at the boy. "No many do not, many create more questions rather than answers, and some of the answers are really the questions." He replied cryptically.
The boy thought about this and it made him feel more confused. He looked out at the sky "Well this question is simple, and no one has given me the answer yet. Why is the sky blue?"
The old man turned fully on the rock and surveyed the boy quietly and thoughtfully.
"One could be told that the sky is blue because of the atmosphere, because of the spectrum of the colours that can filter through the layers, the dominant colour filtering of the protection from the sun. One could be told that the sky actually isn't blue it is a multitude of colours but our minds cannot conceive that concept so it accepts only what it has been told by others or sees for itself. In reality is the sky really blue or even there at all? Can you touch it, can you feel it, or do you just know?"
The boy looked more confused.. "Well what is the best answer? Because there has to be an answer". The old man turned and looked at him. "Over the period of your life, many, many people will tell you what they think you need to believe. They will talk an ocean of words, of judgements, of understanding, and perceived ideas. They will talk and talk and talk. However, some will not stop talking to LISTEN, to understand that some things just ARE and in that simply JUST ARE, are all the answers.. They never needed to ask the question in the first place. In acceptance of what simply IS, is defined by both your own understanding but your ability to simply listen and accept.
You can search all your life for your answers, simply to find another will tell you their answers to their questions as well. Is there life beyond this one, is there other worlds, is there this, is there that. What is the best thing to understand, what is the answer. When you learn it was never about the questions or the answers, but about the knowing. Joy of living, simple pleasures, sun on your face, peace in your heart. You then learn that you have already got all the answers, and you always did have". He touched the boys face gently and turned back to the view.
The boy frowned. The old man had given no answers at all, he had just created more questions and HE DID listen when people told him answers. He thought for a moment, he always wanted to ask questions always, but he did understand that if he asked everyone questions, he would just get their perception of answers. Was there truly no real answers? He looked at the old man resting in the sun. Could it possibly be that simple. He thought of how many times he asked a question of another when he already knew the answer, but needed that person to confirm what he had thought. He frowned again. Why had he asked that person, why did he need their confirmation.
He frowned again. He was starting to confuse even himself with his own circular questions. He decided he would think more on what the old man had said. The old man closed his eyes and commented "Don't think too hard, you could hurt your brain". The boy snorted and started down the hill.
That night the boy lay on his bed, looking out the window to the stars. He felt that the old man was playing with him, making him feel like some of his questions were not really that important, but there must be some important questions surely. How did you define what was an important question anyway? He frowned. He was getting a head ache from all this thinking. The stars winked down on him as he finally fell asleep and a smile on his face as the question he thought was most important came to mind.
The next day he leap up and collected the morning meal for the old man. He looked at his mother with new eyes, she was busy, distracted and worked too hard. He hugged her for a moment. She looked startled and smiled. "What no questions this morning?" He shook his head and took off up the hill as fast as he could.
The old man was on another rock basking in the morning sun. He cracked open one eye and grinned at the boy. The boy placed the meal by the old man and just about bursting said "I have a really important question for you". The old man raised one eyebrow "Just the one then?" "Yes" said the boy " just the one". The boy drew a breathe and asked "Am I real". The old man's eye's widened and he smiled.
"You are as real as you choose to be". He touched the boys shoulder gently. "You are as real as the rocks on the ground, formed with the passage of time. You are as real as the sky you think you see. You are as real as others think you are, BUT you are never real until you accept who you are. Be what you are regardless what people tell you, what answers you think you know, be REAL as you think you are real, simply".
The boy smiled. "Thank you" he beamed and planted himself by the old man to look at the view. In silence they came to a complete understanding and the sun shone down in delight.
Moral of the story:
We are on a quest at times, to give ourselves understanding, wisdom and definition of self. However, we ask these things externally. Outwardly never for a moment stopping to acknowledge that we may already have the answers. While it is important to ask the questions, very. We get consumed by seeking an answer. We allow ourselves to be influenced by others perceptions, understanding and their knowledge. Who truly know who you are? How real you are? Only you have the answers. However, instead of searching your whole life looking for your answers in a world that at times does not even hear your questions. Look to the knowledge that lies within. Really you already KNOW, you just need to take the time to ask yourself and while you are doing that? Please live your life.. the quest is not for the answers, but in the living of life....