Wisdom From An Old Master

In his Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo tells this story: 

Once an unhappy young apprentice came to an old master and told the master that he was deeply sad and asked for a solution. 

The old master instructed the unhappy young apprentice to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. 

Then he asked “How does it taste?” 

“Terrible!” spat the young apprentice. 

The master nodded and asked the young apprentice to take another handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to a nearby lake and the apprentice swirled his handful of salt into the lake. The older master said, “Now drink the lake.” 

The apprentice cupped his hands and drank. Again, the old master asked, “How does it taste?” 

“Good!” said the apprentice. The master then asked, “Do you taste the salt?” The apprentice smiled and said, “No.” 

The master sat beside the troubled young apprentice and took his hands. “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same. But the amount we taste depends on the container into which we put it. So when you are in pain, the wisest thing to do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

Pursuing a relationship with God deepens your awareness of your own Essential Being. In that state of awareness, you experience situations that cause suffering but do not succumb. Aware of your essential self, you understand that all struggle is of the moment. Your intentional release of suffering dissolves it into the lake of Sacred Love. Holding on to it means concentrating its power in your life. By concentrating suffering, you shrink your awareness and deny your cosmic heritage. 

In his moment of deepest pain, Jesus prayed, “Not my will but Yours be done.” He opened himself to a love greater than his own, a Sacred will beyond his own. He became the lake. Let’s try it. 

We are in this together,

Rev. Cameron Trimble
Author of Searching for the Sacred: Meditations on Faith, Hope and Love

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