The novice monk and the master

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The novice monk stood before the master,

“How long have you been here?”

“Four score year master” came the reply.

“Why are you still here?”

“Oh for there is so much more to learn and understand master.”

“Yet you have never wandered beyond the walls of this temple?”

“No master, for it is away from the world I gain true understanding of it”

“Yet you preach to others about the way they live in that world?”

“For I am able to see clearly the world by being apart from it”

“Are you the same person as when you came here all those years ago?”

“Oh yes, for I see all the world in others, so realise I am here to learn to be me”

“Yet you have never lived the world of humankind, never lived the lessons that you preach the results to others, passing judgement on the lives they have lived”

“But master, that would mean changing who I am, leaving the world that I live in, living in a world not ordered by the rule and rite and word of this order…”

The master smiled,

“The stagnant pond has but two hopes, that the sun and wind dry it up and return its birthplace, or one day the river may find it again and carry it with it once more forwards.”

“So you have lived your life as the pond, refusing to let the world into it, harassed by the wind and rain, fermented by the sun. Your fear has created a skin around your life, mirrored in the walls you hide behind here.”

“But master, look at the words I have written, the speeches I have given..”

“No, it is time to leave this place”

“Yet master, my days are drawing to a close. Where shall I go and what should I do?”

“Then you have the final deadline to see what you have learnt”

“But I want to learn more master”

“So take the gift and go learn in the few days you have left, for we have failed you here”

“For you leave here the same as you entered, untouched by life”

“You speak our words but do not live them, you want to learn, but fail to understand to learn you first must be willing to change, for change is the most constant thing in life. Only if you need to learn will you change, for change comes from within, not in the words we speak, your the robes and titles, but in our very nature”

“But master, what then of my life?”

“Go find it and live the changes or die feeling the loss of not living”

As the novice walked with his staff through the walls of the temple, his eyes blinded by rejection and fear, he looked backwards towards the temple, and fell over the edge of the cliff.

The novice monk and the master


Gateshead, United Kingdom

  • Artist
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Artist's Description

A tale of where learning meets theory

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