AWARENESS by Anthony de Mello (edited by Keith Basar)
The student monk had spent seven years of his life learning how to live and embrace a life of being fully aware or as was understood in his day: of “acute awareness of Being." His confidence overflowed in such a way that it seemed near impossible for his insights and knowledge to fail him. Confidence was his shining star!
Now his study time had ended and he was prepared to be tested for the many years of persistent, diligent effort.
He journeyed for three long and arduous weeks until he entered the distant territory of Wuan. There he would finally stand before a wise master for his ultimate test.
Was he ready to become a teacher monk? Had his studies allowed him to understand all the challenges of "being a fully aware person?'
As the student monk entered the monastery, wet from the last long day of his travels, he placed his umbrella in the hall near the door.
The Master, quietly and calmly anticipating the young monks presence, greeted him as he entered into the main hall. What seemed like only seconds from their introduction the wise old teacher revealed what would be the students ultimate test. ”Did you place your umbrella to the left or right of your clogs?” said the Master.
The monk was taken by surprise.
Why such simple question, from someone so wise?
In fact, the more he thought about it the more angered he became. In fact the question seemed to teeter on the absurd! But clearly he could not verbalized his thoughts or frustration. He could not state how trite such a question was for a student who’d spend years preparing for what he thought would be a complex and challenging examination. Even with considerable analysis he now knew his only option was to answer the question.