On the phone, at a gas station, in our dreams
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“Where are these gods you speak about?” a skeptic asked the Lord Shantih. “I have lived many years and have traveled far, and I have never seen a god. They must be very well hidden.”
“Oh, they are well hidden,” said Lord Shantih. He placed his hand on the man’s heart. “They are hiding right here.”
One day the Lord Shantih spoke to a group of people in the marketplace. When he finished speaking, one member of the audience turned to another.
“Is the teaching done?” he asked.
“No,” replied the other. “Lord Shantih has finished speaking, but the teaching is never done.”
When Lord Shantih built himself a cottage in the desert, a passerby asked him why it was that the cottage was so very small.
“Surely a teacher of your renown will have many visitors,” said the passerby. “And your cottage is far too small to contain them.”
Lord Shantih smiled. “The gods can fill the sky,” he said, “or they can lose themselves in a thimble.”
The Lord Shantih was asked why his cottage had no door to keep the desert wind from entering.
“I can no more stop the wind than I can stop my unwanted thoughts,” he explained. “So I let them blow through me, and I carry on with my work.”
The Lord Shantih once told of a tree so tall that its branches held up the sky. The tree’s roots were so deep, they held the earth together. And the tree’s fruit was so nutritious that all who ate of it were healthy, long-lived, and content.
“And yet,” said a seeker, “where is this tree, for no man has ever seen it.”
“This tree is at the center of the universe,” said Lord Shantih, “and we are blind men walking in circles around and around its trunk.”
The Lord Shantih found himself at the bank of a swift-moving stream.
“Can you see your reflection in this water?” he asked a companion.
“No, my Lord, I cannot.”
“And what do you need to see your reflection?”
“Still water, my Lord.”
Lord Shantih took a bowl and drew water from the stream. When the water settled, he handed the bowl to his companion.
“When your thoughts are as still as this water,” he said, “you will see your true self as clearly as you now see your reflection.”
“Where does one go to learn the teachings?” a seeker asked the Lord Shantih.
“Where are the teachings not found?” Lord Shantih replied.
But the seeker was baffled by this answer. “Though I have tried as best I can,” he said, “I cannot find these teachings you speak of. I fear I am lost.”
“I will show you,” said Lord Shantih. He pointed out a bird flying high above them.
“Tell me,” he said. “Where is that bird heading?”
“He is climbing to heaven,” replied the seeker.
“And where are his eyes focused?”
“Ahead of him, my Lord.”
“He never looks to the ground?” said Lord Shantih.
“No,” said the seeker. “You cannot reach heaven unless you leave all thought of the world behind you.”
Lord Shantih nodded. “You have just read a page,” he said, “in the great book of teachings.”