The parable of the two disciples

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One day two new disciples entered the school of the Grand Master.

Yi Gun and Ka Tsin both worked diligently and carefully on the tasks they were given. Yet somehow Yi Gun always managed to work faster and didn't make any mistakes; it seemed that he was able to complete all his assignments in a perfect way. On the other hand, Ka Tsin was often scolded for not understanding how to smooth sand, for not baking enough bread, or because after he swept, there was always some debris to be found.

One day, while they were cooking rice, Ka Tsin addressed Yi Gun: “My friend, I have something to ask from you”.

Yi Gun smiled and replied: “You are most welcome. How can I help?”

Ka Tsin, seemingly embarrassed and hesitant, and staring imploringly at his friend, asked: “I know I shouldn't ask it from you, but I beg you from all my heart, please tell me when you attain enlightenment. I believe I am not doing very well; I see nothing good within myself, but I yearn to know that it is achievable. We both came to the Grand Master at the same time, and if you manage to succeed, maybe I will also have a chance at a later stage.”

Yi Gun thought for a while, and nodded in agreement.

Some time passed, maybe months or maybe years, and then one day Yi Gun shared with Ka Tsin that he had attained enlightenment. He told him that it was a condition that could not be described in words, but it was magnificent, and he wished for his friend to be successful in reaching it soon. And in his turn, he asked Ka Tsin to share with him when this happened.

Ka Tsin's face shone with happiness. It was as if he suddenly grew wings, and all doubt vanished from him. He became more diligent, fulfilling his tasks with joy, and full of gratitude that he could learn from them. He worked tirelessly and nothing wore him out or despaired him. He did everything that was asked of him and helped other disciples in their assignments. He got up early in the morning and went to bed hours after sunset, always full of energy and dedication.

Some time passed, maybe days or maybe months, and one beautiful summer afternoon Ka Tsin attained enlightenment. His first task, after giving thanks inwardly, was to go to Yi Gun and share it with him.

“I'm very happy for you!”, Yi Gun said; “Tell me more!”

“What more can I tell you than what you have already known for a long time?” Ka Tsin replied.

Then Yi Gun bowed to his friend and exclaimed: “Forgive me Ka Tsin! I do not know what enlightenment is; neither before, nor now have I been blessed to be touched by it. Forgive me for lying to you, but I did it because I knew how important it was for you to believe it was possible. To know that an ordinary disciple like you and I is able to walk the path to the end.”

Now it was Ka Tsin’s turn to bow to his brother, and he said: “Great and unknown are the paths of Tao, and countless are the ways leading to It. My path was to dissolve into the endless ocean, with the help of a lie that melted all the doubts and the barriers I put in front of myself. For your path, my dear friend, I will pray every minute, and I will celebrate the day when fate brought us together.”

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