Another Guru on the Mountain
There is a legend that is told in the village below a large mountain range. As the story is told, at the top of the mountain, lived a wise man. Some called him a guru, some called him insane, and some called him a hermit not fit for normal life. It was rumored that this guru would visit the village at night in dreams, in the day as a thunderstorm, and often as a stranger.
When a stranger came inquiring about the guru, he was met with suspicion. The natural inclination was to believe that the stranger inquiring about the guru, was in fact, the guru. People in the village were curious. People in the village wanted to test the stranger before they let him pass. Though they were hospitable, they asked what the stranger was doing there. He answered he came to see the guru on the mountain. This raised more questions and more suspicion.
When they told him all that they had heard about the guru, the main question put to the stranger was, “why”. The stranger said he had lost his wife and children. He also lost the farm that had been in his family for generations. He believed in some ways he had lost himself. His reason for visiting with the wise man was to find what he was made of. What he was in relation to the world. And what was his purpose.
Several days went by. The same questions were asked and the same questions were answered. Word came to the elders in a dream that the stranger might be permitted to make the journey to the mountain top. With a solemn farewell, the stranger began his trek up the rocky path. The elders said he was expected the next day and that it was a day’s journey. He was off.
That morning, he met a colony of lepers. They begged for his help. They pleaded for him to wrap their wounds with fresh cloths. He had a mission and a scheduled appointment, but he sat with the lepers and wrapped their wounds. All of those in the colony thanked him and asked where it was that he was going. He said he was going to the mountain top to find the guru. He said he had lost his way in life and that he hoped the guru might help him find the answers he needed.
When the day began to change to dark, the stranger realized he had lost a lot of time. He did not know how to explain his being late to the guru, but there was no way he could make it to the hearing on time.
After a solemn farewell, the stranger began his trek again. As he made his way up the mountain, a rain storm came and washed all of the paths out that had been cleared. His only option was to wait… and wait… and wait. Finally, the night began to fall and all he could do was look up into the sky and wonder what he would say to the guru. As he stared at the sky, the clouds broke and the moon shone on his face. It was then that he noticed thousands of stars. The stranger wondered where they from, and what purpose they served.
The next day, the stranger met a ram on a particularly narrow part of the path. His initial thought was to challenge the ram, as neither the stranger or the animal wanted to retreat. The ram stood his ground. Only backing away, loosing precious time and delaying his arrival at the top, was an option. The ram walked slowly past and the stranger went on his way.
Finally, the stranger arrived at the mountain top. He noticed no sign of a guru’s home. He yelled “hello there”, he walked on the plateau, and he whistled a tune he had heard in his youth. There was no answer. Not that day. Not for a week. It seemed the guru had better things to do than to entertain a stranger that could not meet an obligation to be there on time.
After some thought and a week of enduring the cool evenings and the warm days on a mountain top, the stranger decided to head back down the mountain. This time, and this direction, seemed easier. It was downhill. The ram that had given him grief before was traveling in the same direction and behind him. It was good company. The stranger wanted to travel at night as well and was thankful for the stars that gave him light to see the path. When he happened by the leper colony, having recognized him coming down the mountain, they offered him a bowl of warm porridge. It was if they were old friends.
When he arrived at the village, at the bottom of the mountain, several people asked if he had found the answers he sought and if the guru was real. He was unsure how to respond to either. He said he believed he had found his answers. His purpose was kindness. He learned that from his helping the lepers instead of making the journey on time. He was made of stars. He learned that from the night the clouds cleared and with his being filled with the wonder of it all. He learned his peace is not governed by others on his journey and that it is better to lead the stubborn than to confront them. He learned that from the ram.
The stranger could provide no answer that spoke to the existence of the guru. He only stated that he did not see the guru. Perhaps he is real and perhaps he is not. He only answered, “I did not see the guru, but that does not mean he does not exist”.
After his saying these words, the children laughed and the elders smiled. They all hugged him and exclaimed, “Thank you for coming down from the mountain. We suspected it was you all along. You have confirmed your existence to us by more than just dreams. What must we do keep you here with us?”.
The stranger did not know what to say. But the man that returned from the mountain was not the stranger now. He was the guru. He had the answers he sought from his own experience.
In that moment, he said, “I will return to the mountain top. I cannot stay with you. All of creation offered me only what you have seen before. The lessons learned had very little to do with me. The same lessons are available to you. You need a guru only because you are looking for a guru. For now I will return to the mountain top.
He offered them peace and went on his way. He returned to the land from which he came and not to the mountain top. This is the way of the guru. Only to point away from oneself so others might find what they need. If a guru is an excellent guru, you will never know he exists. At the same time, you will never know he does not.