The Monk and the Butterfly

Aktualisiert: 19. Juni 2020

When we step into the world of meditation, we will realize that the energy of love is the most precious of all energies. The energy of love transcends winning and losing, it transcends the differences in religion, social and ethnic background, nationality, political ideology...


In reality, the ideas of winning and losing are only concepts, ways to look at life, that we ourselves have created in our minds, or that have manifested in us due to the environment that we have been living in, due to our family, our experiences in school and society or due to religious or political ideologies. We rarely have the opportunity to look carefully at all these influences.


As soon as love is arising in us, we have a direction in our life, we have a path to walk. This energy of love is the inner teacher in every one of us. This teacher will lead us on the path directing to light and the greatest happiness achievable in this life.


When we have love, we also have wisdom. When we have love, we have the great courage of a holy being. When we have love, we have empathy with the suffering of all living beings. Before you dedicate yourself to any religion, you should first come back to the loving heart within yourself. If religions don‘t have enough love for life and living beings, religious wars become possible.


If there is a theory that many people follow, that is being applied in the politics of a certain country, but that theory is not based on the foundation of love, so this theory will lead many generations into a hell on earth and will cause indescribable suffering for them. That is why in our life we should always choose the love first, before making any other choice or decision. When we choose the things that are based on the foundation of love, we may lose something on the material level, but that becomes completely unimportant as long as the love is still blossoming in our heart. If on the other hand, we lose our loving heart, then every other goal that we can reach will carry within itself the nature of loss.


I will tell you an interesting, meaningful story that illustrates the things that I have shared about before.

An old, wise monk walks up a mountain to collect some wood. On the way back he meets a young man who has caught a butterfly and tries to keep it in his hand

Seeing the monk, the young man says: „Respected monk, would you like to wager with me?“

The monk asks in return: „What kind of wager?“

Guess, if the butterfly in my hand is already dead or still alive! If your answer is wrong, your wood will belong to me.“

The monk agrees and says: „The butterfly in your hand is already dead.“

The young man replies with a grin on his face: „You are wrong.“

The young man opens his hand and the butterfly flies away. The monk says: „All right, the wood belongs to you.“

The monk puts the wood on the ground and happily walks away.

The young man wonders why the monk seems to be so happy, but he doesn‘t care much, he looks at the wood, picks it up from the ground and carries it home.

When the father of the young man sees his son coming back home with plenty of would on his shoulders, he immediately asks his son where he got so much wood. The son proudly retells the story that has just happened. After listening to the story, the father suddenly slaps his son in the face and says with an angry voice: „Man alive! Do you really think that you won the wager? You failed, my son, and you even didn‘t notice that you failed!“

The son is surprised about the words of his father, he doesn‘t understand. The father quickly puts the wood back on the shoulders of his son and they both walk to the pagoda to return the wood.

Seeing the wise monk, the father goes towards him and says: „Respected monk, my son has acted wrongly, please forgive us.“

The monk keeps silent, nods his head, and smiles.

On the way home, the son asks after hesitating for a while, what was the mistake in his action. The father takes a deep breath and says: „Because the monk said that the butterfly is dead, you let it fly away and you gained the wood. If the monk had said that the butterfly was still alive, you would have squashed it in your hand, it would have been dead and you would also have gained the wood. Do you really think the monk didn‘t know that you wanted to fool him? He lost his wood, but he gained something much more precious: A compassionate heart. You however lost something very precious, and you didn‘t even notice that.“


- Thay Phap Nhat


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