An old monk

A young monk had been living in a monastery for two years and was at his wits end because he did not feel that he knew and understood the art of prayer. One day, in a moment of desperation, he approached a very old monk who was sitting by a river which ran through the monastery grounds. The young monk asked the old monk to explain prayer – what it is and how to do it. Immediately, the old monk grabbed the younger by the scruff of the neck and thrust his head underneath the water. The young monk tried with all his strength to break free but was unable to do so. As the old monk intuited that the younger was about to drown, he yanked the younger out of the water. The young monk gasped for breath like he had never done so before, at which point the old monk said calmly, “That is prayer, my son. It is the very breath of life. Make time for prayer, even if it is difficult at times, because for our inner selves, it is as important as oxygen for the lungs. Without it, we spiritually die.”


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