"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 thus the highly perceptible state "awareness." His confidence overflowed in such a way that it seemed near impossible for his knowledge to fail him under any circumstance.
Now his study time had ended and he was prepared to be tested his many years of diligent effort.
A three week journey led him to the distant territory of Wuan. There he would stand before a wise master for his final 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 final days walk, he removed his muddy shoes and then placed his umbrella in the hall near the door.
The Master, quietly and calmly watched the young monk enter the main chamber. It was here that the Master revealed what would be the students ultimate test question, "did you place your umbrella to the left or right of your clogs?"
The monk was taken by surprise.
Why such simple question, from someone so wise?
In fact, the more he thought about it the more agitated he became. The question seemed absolutely ridiculous! But clearly he could not verbalized his frustration. So his only option he had was to answer the question.
To the question itself, try as he might, he couldn't recall where the umbrella rested.
and he finally had to admit to the Master, he had no idea at all.
'Go back to your teacher for seven more years, and learn once more the secret of awareness'.
Obviously too late in the process the young monk finally remembered the position of his umbrella.
The Master then explained, "Awareness encompasses everything. There is no chance of ever really seeing or understanding who you are or living life to it's fullest without it. AWARENESS is the dance of life, the life stream that touches every sentient Being."
Thoroughly dejected, the monk retuned to his monastery, uncertain of himself or his future.