A Monk and a Rabbi

This story about a monk and a rabbi was posted on the Order of Interbeing Yahoo Group. I found it very interesting and wanted to share it with you. Later this week, I’ll have another story about a rabbi.

Gaon-Vilna Rebe

Picture of a Rabbi

Once upon a time, there was a monastery. The monks were old and tired and there weren’t many of them. They quarreled a lot, and the atmosphere was dour. No one new was joining the order, and the abbot realized that within 10 years or so, there would be no monastery, no order.

The only person he could think of to ask was the rabbi at the other side of the woods. He seemed to have a flourishing congregation, so even though it seemed strange to be consulting with a Jew, the abbot made the long trip through the woods to see the rabbi.

When he got there, the rabbi listened carefully, and then told the abbot he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to help. Sorrowfully, the abbot put on his coat and went to the door. Then, the rabbi said, “There is one thing you should know. It has been prophesied that one of the men at your monastery is the Messiah, but no one knows who it is.  Have a good journey home.”

When the abbot arrived, the monks wanted to know what the rabbi had said, and he told them.

After that, the atmosphere at the monastery slowly transformed. The monks wondered… 

“Brother Jules is so grumpy, how could he be the Messiah? – but…what if he is?”

“Brother Edmund is so picky, how could he be the Messiah? – but…”

“Brother Hubert is so lazy, how could he be the Messiah? – but…”

They began to treat each other differently and to see the divinity in each other. Visitors were moved by the atmosphere of love, and some of them asked to join the order, which grew in size and harmony.

This story has a lot to do with our faulty perceptions. When we see someone as a fellow person, we really don’t see him well. We only see the perception of her that our mind creates.

Once the monks thought there was a messiah among them, their perceptions changed drastically and peace began to reign in the monastery. This tells us that we really have to observe our perceptions and not judge people for their appearances.

What did you get out of this story of a monk and a rabbi? Would you treat your friends and co-workers differently if you knew one of them was an enlightened master?

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