The Monk by the Side of the Road

on March 9, 2014 in The Traveling Story Teller with no comments by


This happened many years ago as I was waiting for a bus on a dusty road in Thailand.   It was early in the morning and I’d left two hours earlier than I needed to, hoping that the bus wouldn’t be too crowded at this time of day.  The bus was late, as usual and a Buddhist monk dressed in orange robes sat down next to me on the bench.


I had two oranges in my bag so I offered him one.  I wasn’t sure if he would take it from me but he took it graciously.  “One must always say yes to everything,” he said in English.


I smiled and nodded.  “Is that really possible?”


“Imperative,” he laughed.


“Saying yes to life, even to adversity, teaches us joy.  You are learning joy,” he said.


“How can you tell?”


He didn’t answer my question.  Instead he said, “In the future you will learn to stop worrying.  You will learn to live in the present moment but when you do this, do not forget to bring the beauty of your future dreams into your present moment.  Do not forget to bring happy memories of the past into your present moment.  This combination is the true meaning of present moment and of joy.”


I saw my bus coming down the street.  “Why are you telling me this?”


He laughed.  “To thank you for the orange.”

I boarded the bus but the monk remained seated on the bench.  “That’s not my bus,” he explained.


As the bus pulled away, I turned to the driver and asked if there was another bus on this road.  “No, the driver said.  This is the only bus.”


I looked out the broken window of the bus but the monk had left the bench and was walking down the street in the opposite direction.  I never saw him again.

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