Enlightenment How Old Are You?

One day an Emperor from a far-away land had come to visit Buddha. Buddha had set aside time to spend with this important man and during this time all of Buddha's students were sitting silently in meditation.

An elderly monk though, was due to leave that day to go on a long trip across India. He had to leave very soon and couldn't depart without first saying good-bye and paying respects to Buddha, his master. But Buddha was so deep in conversation with the Emperor that the monk was unsure what to do?

Eventually he couldn't wait any longer and decided to quietly interrupt. He explained that he was leaving and he kissed Buddha's feet as a sign of love and respect.

"How old are you now?" Buddha asked him. "I am 4 years old," the monk replied. (He was clearly a man of at least 75 years old!)

Buddha just smiled and wished him a safe journey, but the Emperor was watching all of this and was just baffled. He didn't know which was stranger, a grown man claiming to be a 4 year old or Buddha accepting his answer, without so much as raising an eyebrow.

The Emperor asked Buddha the meaning of all this and Buddha explained:

"That man gave his age as 4 years old because, in a way, he is. We measure it differently here. It was 4 years ago that he regained his enlightenment. In other words, he dropped the false notion of himself and in doing so remembered who he really was. He had an experience we call 'Satori'.

After that his life will have totally changed. He would have seen that for many, many years, his whole life he had been living a lie; in a dream world; sleep walking. We count that day a person "wakes up" to his or her own true identity as the day they were born because that is the day they begin to truly live."

Written in 2006 by Simon Heighwaya