Texas Buddha and the Reverend Clovis Jones were making nachos on a cold and rainy night. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. When TB opened, a shivering man said, “I have come from Australia because I heard you are a wise man. I have come seeking truth. I am staying at the hotel nearby. I want to be your student.”
“You have come a long way to learn to hear the sound of the rain,” TB answered and closed the door. The man stood at the door for a while, and then knocked again. The seeker was invited in for nachos, but whenever he asked a spiritual question, TB would simply raise his palm. Clovis was stunned by such rudeness. After the man left, he objected, “That man came from the other side of the world. Why wouldn’t you teach him?”
Returning to the nachos, TB said, “I did teach him. The learning that man needs begins with disillusionment. I will go to his hotel in the morning to explain, but perhaps tonight he will realize that he has been seeking an illusory idea of wisdom. Life is the only teacher. If I took him as a student, I could only mislead him.”
Clovis shook his head, “That seems cruel to me.”
“I believe the real cruelty is letting someone flounder in their false pursuit of wisdom. Most people are willing to seek for truth so long as it is defined as a philosophy or religion. Very few are willing to seek for truth if it means facing their illusions, or making peace with their ordinary lives.”
Note: This tale actually comes from a dream I had in seminary. My first day at seminary did not go well and I dreamt that night I had left the States and gone to Japan to learn Zen. I dreamt I knocked at the door of a monastary on a rainy night. A little panel opened on the door. I could see a chin but nothing else. “I have come to study Zen,” I said. The monk responded, “You have come a long way to hear the sound of the rain.” I awoke in a sweat.