When I Thought I was Dying

In ancient India, there once was a young man who decided to escape from society and become a monk out of annoyance. Although physically he was in the temple, his mind wandered to the outside world, and his heart still harbored many worldly desires. Spiritually, he still behaved as a common person would.

At that time, in the Kushinara Kingdom there lived a Buddhist teacher named Upagupta. The young monk admired him and went to visit him. Once he met him, Upagupta asked the young disciple if he was willing to obey and do everything he asked of him to rise to another spiritual realm. The young man agreed.

Then, the wise man took him to the mountains and taught him how to meditate. Using his supernatural abilities, he created a tall tree and asked his disciple to climb it. After he did, when the monk looked down from the top of the tree, he saw an extremely deep and wide well.

At first, the teacher asked him to let go of the tree with his legs. Then, he ordered him to drop a hand. When he asked him to let go of the tree completely, the young monk became afraid and said: “If I let go, I will fall into the well and die.”

His teacher insisted.

The monk tried not to think about anything and let go of the tree completely. He quickly fell and boom! Once he opened his eyes, he saw no sign of the well or the tree – it was all an illusion.

The teacher asked him, “When you let go of the tree and fell to your death, did you feel that there was something in the world that was valuable?”

“When I thought I was dying, nothing seemed valuable to me,” answered the monk.

“That is correct. Everything in this world is an illusion. When the physical body dies, its desires also die with it. If you finally understand that the physical body is only a part of the non-permanent, you can disentangle yourself from the anchors of desire that weight you down.”

Thanks to Upagupta’s lesson, the young monk became enlightened, and since then he began cultivating himself diligently.


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