The Stone Mason- Enlightenment Returns Us to Our Natural Self

Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai, Hsihu, Formosa,
July 10, 1995 (originally in English) Videotape No. 487

There once was a stone mason who was very diligent. Every day, he broke stones into pieces and made things with them or perhaps sold them. Even if it was extremely hot in Miaoli, he never stopped. He worked and worked continuously, using a very large, powerful hammer and broke all the stones into pieces. These stones were then used by people to pave the roads, the area where they sat in the meditation hall, and any place where small pieces of stone (gravel) were needed. This was the result of his work.

The mason inherited this job from his great-grandfather, and then from his grandfather and then from his father. So, there were many generations of stone masons in his family. He was a very diligent and strong man. Sometimes he also worked during his lunch break because he wanted to earn extra money for his family; he would work until very late in the evening then go home and sleep. That’s all.

Many of his friends and neighbors were envious of his health and his extremely free lifestyle. He seemed very much at ease and independent. However on the contrary, this man (his name meant “power”) didn’t feel contented about his lot, but always wished to have a nobler kind of life — richer, with more luxuries and higher living. So he wasn’t always happy.

One day, he was breaking stones, perhaps next to the Nectar River. It was morning, and the sun was rising. Suddenly, he saw a lot of dust coming toward him, like a big cloud. And then in the middle of the dust cloud appeared a big, beautiful four-horse carriage, on top of which sat a very big, fat and dignified officer of the king. He had so many bodyguards around him and so many other horses surrounding him and behind him that he looked very terrific, majestic and distinguished.

A Miraculous Transformation

Upon seeing this sight, the stone mason stood aghast, with mouth open and eyes wide, and felt very miserable. Deep, deep in his heart, he suddenly had a wish and said, “I wish I could be a great Mandarin, a great officer of the king.” Then suddenly there came a huge, thunder-like noise from the mountain top: “Boom!” Because the king of the mountain had heard the stone mason’s wish and made it come true. Next the stone mason instantly became a very big officer. He changed into a prime minister, and everything he ever wished for came to him. He had money, a big palace, bodyguards and a great, great, great estate. And all the people respected him: Everywhere he went, people just crawled in the dirt and dared not look up. And he would spill dust over them and they remained cheerful; they dared not say anything.

The stone mason was very proud of himself. Every day he had to go around, take care of the country for the king and report to him when he came back. And every time he entered the court, he had to kneel down and prostrate himself before the king. He also had to wear official clothing, which was very thick and studded with all kinds of precious stones like diamonds and pearls. So it was a pretty heavy outfit. And in addition he had to wear a hat, which was also studded with precious stones and gold and silver, befitting his rank. Every time he had to bow down, his back ached, and he tried to keep his waist stuck together; otherwise it would break in half. So he felt very bad, but he never dared to take off his official clothes.

One day, while he was still bearing this situation for the sake of glory and wealth and the adoration that people all around him bestowed on him, the king sent him to a very faraway place to take care of some state business. And in order to get to the area, he had to go through a very great desert, which was exceedingly hot. But he couldn’t take off his clothes because of his rank. Everywhere he went, he had to be a big minister and nothing else. It was so hot, he nearly died there. And then his hat became three times heavier than usual. He was also sweating inside, and his clothes were thus soaked and heavier than normal. So then he thought, “Oh my God, being a prime minister is really, really terrible. I don’t want to be a prime minister anymore. I think I’ll just die here! I think I’d rather be a king. If I could be a king, it would be better. I wouldn’t have to go through the desert like this, and I wouldn’t have to take orders from anyone. I could do what I wanted, and would have many wives. So, wow! That would be fantastic, to be king. I want to be king. I only want to be king, nothing else; I want to be a king, all right?”

A Wish for the Glory of Kingship Fulfilled

And then unexpectedly, he heard another “Boom!” a very loud sound, and then the king of the mountain, his friend, the god of the mountain, made his wish come true. So the stone mason was transformed into a king who ruled a very great nation, and had great wealth and many beautiful wives. And everyone knelt before him and did everything he wished.

So he was contented for a while. But then the honeymoon was over and he had to work very late into the night because many reports from different ministers and provincial chiefs and the state governor came to him every day. And each day he had to discuss the country’s problems late into the night with many of his ministers. So then he couldn’t sleep very well at night. He worried about his job, matters of state and the urgent business related to things happening in his country that he couldn’t resolve quickly and peacefully

With continuous problems both around and within his country, he couldn’t sleep very well, he couldn’t eat and he couldn’t enjoy all his beautiful wives. He was too miserable to even look at them. When you’re miserable, you don’t enjoy anything. So he couldn’t eat; he couldn’t even enjoy the food that he wished to have, and he couldn’t enjoy the women that he had always desired to possess. He became very miserable and only ensconced himself in his duties, worries and anxieties, and the demands of his subjects, enemies, friends and anyone who desired things from him. Because he was the king, the top, the only one, everyone came to him with problems, both within and without, and thus he began to feel that now his kingship was not really a blessing but a punishment. He felt very tired and worn out.