Once a Persian philosopher came to a missionary and offered to pay him to read the Bible for an hour each day, and translate to him as he read. The offer was gladly accepted and the missionary read from the Bible for an hour. Finally he came to the passage, “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasteth great things – but the tongue can no man tame,” at which the philosopher rose abruptly and said, “That will be enough for this day.” He did not return for three months. The missionary expressed surprise that he had not returned sooner. “I thought you wanted me to read to you every day.” “I did,” replied the other, “but it took me this long to get that much.”
I don’t know anything about this “philosopher” beyond this excerpt, but I can gather he listened intently to what was being shared. He recognized he had to allow the spirit of the words to soak into him. It seems pretty obvious he wasn’t asking this missionary to read and translate the Bible so he could simply tell others that he had read it cover to cover. It seems he wanted to know what message there may be for him, beyond the words. It also seems he understood that such knowledge takes time (relative to where one is in his journey).
Just think … three months to come to a place where he was ready to move on. I wonder how long it would have taken him to get through the Bible in its entirety … or has taken him?
I’m bringing this here, not because it was read from the Bible nor for the particular scripture noted … but because, as I came across this story once more, it drew me to look at myself and consider how much time I have given teachings encountered. How many times have I believed I “had it” in the first pass … or even after later passes? Even now I consider a thought occurring to me years ago … of how some situations in life could be coming as initiations … as opportunities to test what I may have thought I had already gotten. I get the distinct impression that we can not peg all of life’s occurrences as the result of karma. But who knows? No matter the case, I sense “Life” is about accepting each moment for what it is … right here, right now.
We live in a fast-food world. For the most part, we expect everything yesterday. We expect to get what we want when we want it. As well, we expect to be what we want to be in short order. Time is of the essence and we certainly don’t like to be kept waiting. Is it my imagination or is there a strong air of entitlement sapping folks of their own desire … and willingness to do the work?
Whether it be the real-life scenes being played out in this Kabuki theater or the myriad spiritual writings/teachings a “seeker” may encounter, there is much more going on than what appears on the surface. That which is worthwhile is layered, each layer holding something anew for those who dare to linger. If we want to really know, we must be willing to sit with what is offered to us.
Oh, and by the way, if you choose to consider what is worthwhile, begin with your Self … because there are layers there (here!) as well.