Food #22: On Past Life Awareness: "That's Not the End of the Story..."
"Once Upon a Time..."
...in a land far away, lived a very wise woman. She devoted her
life to the pursuit of knowledge. She found it by sitting under a
tree all day and meditating on the glories of the universe.
"Master, master," he pleaded, "you must hear me now. Our beloved village below is engulfed in flames... What shall we do?" The sage did not open her eyes as she replied, "You have not yet completed your last task..." The student could not believe it. "People are dying, who cares about..." The sage waved her hand and he fell silent. "Go to the village and help who you can... but by doing so you must take responsibility for whoever you rescue from the hand of fate."
The student grunted for he had learned better than to question the sage. As he turned away, she said, "Heed these words... 'but that's not the end of the story'..." The student wanted to ask what that meant but the flames in the village were growing stronger and so he hastened away to "help who he could".
Many weeks went by as the student helped those in need. Anger at the sage's indifference to the fate of his village gradually subsided as the days passed. And then one day things had settled down enough to allow him to seek her out again.
As he poured out his story of all that had happened, the student ended by saying, "and I saved one little girl from the flames but... she is so..." He could hardly find the words to say it... the girl had been burned on her face and arms. That aside she was "funny looking": buck teeth, big ears, eyes too wide apart. No one wanted her and so the girl had been staying with him in his tiny quarters.
The sage closed her eyes and said, "Again you have come to me before your task was complete. If you come again before you have done your work, I shall never speak to you again." His jaw dropped open and words rushed to his mind... "Was he not the most faithful student? Had he not done all that she had asked and more? Was not his development as a student of God the most important thing in his life?"
Yet she was the sage and all he said was, "I do not understand, master." She answered, "You have asked God to send you a teacher that could spend all their time with you and teach you all the you need to know. Is that not true?" The young student's face burned with embarrassment for in his inmost heart, he WAS annoyed at the sage for spending so little time with him... of all people
Looking around at all her other students, he saw no one else with his great potential to one day be a sage himself. Surely, SHE should have seen that too... for she WAS a sage! So no there was no point in denying it. "Yes," was his sheepish reply. She said, "God has sent you a teacher in that little girl. Now complete your task and take responsibility for her upbringing."
He was shocked! How could the sage waste his time that way! He needed his time for his studies! All he could manage to say was, "but that will take years!" She smiled and told him "at least fifteen!" This time the student could not help himself and blurted out, "But WHY?" She opened her eyes and stared at him. "Because you owe her a life debt. She was supposed to die in that fire but you decided she should live so you are responsible. Now complete your task and do not return UNTIL you do!" The sage closed her eyes and began to chant a prayer mantra.
The student was outraged and he put all the force of his learning into giving her reasons why this task was unjust. The sage continued chanting as if she was all alone. After several hours when he had exhausted all argument, the student asked, "Is that all you have to say to me?" The sage stopped chanting a moment and said just this "'that's not the end of the story'..." He shook his head and walked away.
As it happened, in exactly fifteen years from that day he last saw the sage, the little girl, now a woman, had blossomed into beauty and was married. The student had long ago put aside his studies to become a parent to her. He had all but forgotten about the sage when another of her students came up to him as the married couple were being driven away to their new home. The younger man said to him, "The sage says your task is complete. You may return to her if that is still your wish."
The student said nothing. He went home and pulled out the trunk where he had packed away his books long ago. He could remember with perfect clarity his burning desire to know all that the sage knew. He opened a book and tried to read but his eyes were clouded with tears... he missed her who had become his daughter. The books and all their wisdom were no comfort to him now.
It took many days before the student could bring himself to march on the well worn path which led to the sage's tree. He was astonished to see that the sage had not aged... she was precisely as he had remembered her. Her hair was still golden, her skin had the firmness of youth, and she sat still as ever. Her eyes were closed, back straight, arms out at her side with her palms raised to heaven, and legs crossed like a pretzel in the lotus position. He was about to speak when she opened her eyes and asked, "So what have you learned from your daughter the teacher?"
In the early days, the student had envisioned this moment and his angry reply. He had planned to tell the sage that she had squandered his incredible potential on the petty task of raising a little orphan girl. Now his eyes filled with tears as he replied.
"She taught me so many things... That she was a gift to me from God. That she was a gift I could not keep except by giving her away. She helped me to think more of others and less about myself. She showed me how important it was to be tolerant of the differences in others by how she suffered when others would tease her about her looks. She led me by her example of how to be forgiving to those who hurt me.
"She never allowed me to hate those who were cruel to her. She often humbled my pride for the wisdom of her heart was often greater than all I had learned in books. When very young, she would often close my books and lead me out of doors to enjoy the beauty of God's creation. She could not envy others for their good looks so I stopped envying others for the opportunities to study I no longer had.
"Then one day as we were outside having a picnic, laughing and enjoying the day, she told me that she was glad to see that my anger against you had faded. She said I was less greedy and lustful about having to know all the mysteries of the universe all at once. And, best of all, I was less lazy about helping around the house!"
The sage laughed. "It seems that your daughter has taught you well... 'but that's not the end of the story'." A flash of anger returned as the student said, "No, it isn't! Why did she have to lose her parents in that fire? Why did she have to be so cruelly burned? You are a sage! Surely you know the answers to that!" The sage shut her eyes and said, "The answers you seek are among the scrolls of the village's history. When you find the answers, return here once again."
The student suddenly remembered why he had found the sage so irritating. Yet she had been right about his daughter and so he did as he was bid. It took another year of careful sifting through the records but his patience paid off. Confidently, he strode up the hill to the sage. He had barely reached her side when it spilled out of him. "In their youth, her parents had been among those who urged that a nearby village be burnt to the ground for having interfered with their trade routes. So they had to die in a fire to understand the hurt they had inflicted on those others."
The sage nodded, "...'but that's not the end of the story'. You have failed to understand why your daughter was to die in that fire. Do not come back here until you do." The student could not believe his ears, "but you told me she was sent to me to teach me lessons!" The sage nodded again, "...'but that's not the end of the story'. Do as I have bidden you." Disgusted and angered, the student walked away and determined never to see the "stupid sage" again.
Some years went by. The student's daughter had two children and he was a doting grandfather. She became pregnant with a third but something went wrong and mother and child died together. The student, now an old man, was heart broken. The pain of his loss brought back to his mind the words of the sage. His need for answers as to why she had died too young forced him to complete his task.
With a heavy heart, he slowly made his way up the hill to see the sage. He hardly knew what to say to her after all this time. The student was quite surprised by the gentleness in her voice when she said, "You know don't you." The student could not stop his tears as he said "Yes..." The sage, who had never moved from her position in all the years he had known her, rose and embraced him.
He wept as she said, "In a life she lived long before she was your daughter, she had been a very powerful man. As that man, she had deprived children of their parents. She had condemned people to die by the flame. She had treated the ugly and malformed with hatred and intolerance. Since that life, she grew as Soul in understanding and love. She knew that she had to accept responsibility for what she had done.... in the only way that she could... by experiencing it herself...
"...but that is not the end of the story." By now the student had grown sick of those words from the sage. The old anger returned as he said, "The story never ends does it! From one life to another, back and back, to the beginning of time..." The sage released him. When she stepped back from him, he was horrified to see that she was now a very old woman. Then when he caught a glimpse of his own hand, he was even more surprised to see that he had gone back to being a young man.
Her wrinkled face beamed with a smile. "Now you have become the sage. For only sages know that only God can ever know the end of the story and that the story itself goes back to the beginning of time." The old woman raised up her arms and began to ascend toward the heavens. The student turned sage looked up at her and said, "but I am not ready to become the sage..."
Although she was moving farther from his sight, he could still hear her voice, "My son, it is ignorance that lies at the beginning of wisdom and awareness that comes at the end of the story.... and it is a story that never ends..."
Credits: from channeled information and the wisdom taught me by my mother and "child"ren.
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