As Miserable As Ever

A master announced that one of the young monks had attained enlightenment.  This created a great buzz around the temple; and naturally aroused the curiosity of many of the young monk’s peers.  He was asked:

“We hear you have attained enlightenment?”


“How do you feel?”

“Still as miserable as ever.”

This beautiful tongue in cheek parable tells us that enlightenment is not something to be attained; it is our natural state and we are always that.  When we talk of “attaining”, it is simply for the sake of using vocabulary that can be understood in discussion.  From the perspective of the ego, there most certainly is something to attain.  But, this parable is telling us that when we “attain” enlightenment, it is nothing more than the realisation that we are already enlightened, always have been and always will be.  It is the dissolution of the ego, the removal of ignorance, revealing what was always there.

Here are three more examples that say exactly the same thing.  Firstly, there is this lovely ancient Chinese proverb:

Before enlightenment

Chopping wood, carrying water

After enlightenment

Chopping wood, carrying water


Secondly, one of my favourite sages, Ramana Maharshi reminds us that:

“You are already that which you seek”


And finally, this very eloquent quote from Sri Sathya Sai Baba:

“When the road ends and the Goal is gained the pilgrim finds that he has travelled only from himself to himself, that the way was long and lonesome, but, that the God whom he reached was all the while in him, around him, with him, and beside him! He himself was always Divine. His yearning to merge in God was but the sea calling out to the ocean!” 

2 thoughts on “As Miserable As Ever

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