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Two Jews, a Monk, and a Mountain

June 5, 2012

Let’s change the rhythm here this week and enjoy a joke and an instructive tale.

Two Jewish guys walk past a church that has a sign out in front: “$50 If You Convert Today!” The two men stop and look at each other. Then one of them says, “I’m going in there to check this out!”

The second man waits out on the sidewalk for twenty minutes, thirty minutes. Finally his friend emerges.

“So, nu? What happened in there? Did they give you $50?”

The other man looks at him. “Is that all you people think about?”


That’s the instructive tale.

Here’s the joke:

A Chinese monk decides to travel up the mountain to ask the Holy One a question. On the way, he encounters an old man dancing wildly in the road.

“Listen to me! I’m going up the mountain to see the Holy One to ask Him a question. Would you like me to ask something for you as well?”  But the man is so wrapped up in his dancing he either doesn’t hear or just doesn’t care.

The monk shakes his head and proceeds up the mountain. At the top, he sees the Holy One.

“Oh Lord, please, tell me how I am doing! How many more incarnations must I endure?”

The Holy One looks upon him and smiles.

“You have been doing well, my child. Only one more lifetime, and you should be finished. Your soul will then attain Nirvana!”

The monk is thrilled. Only one more lifetime on this earth! Before he takes his leave, he tells the Holy One of the old man he had seen, and asks the same question about him. The Holy One answers, and the monk humbly bows and gives thanks, and returns down the mountain.

Again, he encounters the old man in the road, who’s still dancing.

“Listen to me!” The monk grabs the man and stops him so that this time he’ll pay attention.

“I have just met with the Holy One! He told me about my remaining incarnations. He said I have only one more lifetime to complete! And then I asked Him about you!”

The old man is suddenly intrigued. His eyes widen. 


“He told me that you have many, many incarnations left on this planet.”

The man bursts into laughter. “How wonderful! More time to dance!”

And hearing this, the monk becomes enlightened.


Have a good week.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2012 5:31 pm

    Which comes first, joy or joyful events? Is the secret to life merely changing one’s attitude, so that everything you do is interpreted to be a dance and hence joyful? Or does our joy depend on experiencing joyful events, events which we can bring about by acting in the world (for example, finding a better apartment or a more compatible partner)? Simplifying matters, we attribute the first stategy to eastern mystics and the latter strategy to western technology, but of course both strategies are found in both the east and the west, and both are probably necessary to lead a fulfilling life.

  2. Daniel Wininger permalink
    June 5, 2012 10:02 pm

    I really appreciate the Chinese monk “joke.” I’m always saddened by various manifestations of spiritual escapism: living for the afterlife, aspiring to be released from the cycle of reincarnation, or even the new Age Idea of ascension… If life is suffering, the spiritual answer mustn’t be escape, it should be improvement, and HERE and NOW. Thank goodness when you become enlightened, you have the option of reincarnating again as a human to be a teacher of Buddha Nature (so they say).

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