2002-06-05 12:12:53 --
Many lifetimes ago, there lived three friends who vowed to climb the snowcapped mountain so that they might sit at the feet of the master who lived there and learn of his wisdom.
As they traveled along together, they came upon three separate paths, all leading to the mountain's crest and to the Teacher of Wisdom. The first path led straight up the mountain. It was the shortest way, but it was perilously steep and fraught with danger.
The second path twisted and turned up through a narrow rocky canyon; and the third path encircled the mountain, ever gently spiraling its climb to the summit.
After much debate among the three friends as to the proper path to walk, it was decided that they would each go their own way, for they could not agree.
After seven days, the one who climbed the straight, steep path arrived exhausted and bleeding from wounds suffered along the way and he sat at the feet of the master and waited in silence for the arrival of this friends.
After seven weeks, the second friend, who had traveled the winding canyon path, arrived distraught from the confusing, stressful journey and he too sat at the master's feet and waited for the one who had chosen to walk the spiral path around the mountain.
After seven months the final wayfarer arrived, filled with the light of an inner peace. As he took his place at the master's feet, the two that had come before him became angry that they should wait so long and suffer so much, while his journey had been a blessing of ease and joy.
Again they argued as to which path was the correct way to the Master of Wisdom and each turned to the teacher that they might learn the Truth.
The master asked of the first traveler what he had learned on his chosen journey.
He who had suffered the most answered: "I learned that Life can be very short and its way hard to endure. I stumbled and fell along the pathway and suffered the wounds caused by my own fall; and for every step forward, I paid the price of two. Master, did I choose the correct path to come to You?"
The master answered through the tears of Compassion: "Yes beloved one, yours was the right path to walk."
Then the master asked of the second traveler what he had learned on his journey.
He who had been distraught with confusion answered: "I learned that the path through Life cannot always be foreseen, nor will it always lead you in the direction of your own desires. There were times when I thought that I knew the way, only to find the path had changed its course and it continued to lead me to and fro and from experience to experience, until I found myself standing in Your Presence. Master, did I choose the correct path to come to You?"
The master answered with the voice of Understanding: "Yes beloved one, yours was the right path to walk."
Finally the master asked of the third traveler what he had learned on his journey.
He who was joyous and calm answered: "I learned that if you walk through Life with Patience as your traveling companion, the journey becomes not a burden to bear but rather a wonder to behold. The path is straight and the climb is gentle when Love is used to light your way. Master, did I choose the correct path to come to you?"
The master answered with the joyous smile of love: "Yes beloved one, yours was the right path to walk."
Then the three friends bowed their heads in humble reverence, for at last they knew the eternal truth.
"We have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; . . . where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world."