Passing Robes – A Story on Choice

Passing Robes

A Short Story on Choice

An old man in an empty room dressed in orange faded robes casts a toothless smile as a young man approaches him. The old man presents him with two giant wooden doors to take. He tells you one door holds the answers to life, happiness, and wholesome living with joy and tranquility. He tells you the other door begins another cycle of sadness, suffering, and dissatisfaction with life. You do not know which door is which, and once you open the door you must continue forward.

‘Think carefully’ the monk said, ‘you must make your choice wisely and move forward’.

“How can I choose wisely,” questioned the apprentice, “if it’s a 50-50 chance?”

‘Close your eyes and open your mind. Take a seat and think it over. Bring awareness to yourself, from within and out, and you will be known to make the right choice’.

The apprentice sat, confused, and looked upon both doors, long and hard. He could not close his eyes as he stared intently upon the two doors. Perhaps there might be a clue, he thought, for he could not miss such a hint. He sat and looked long and hard for days and nights, and nights and days. He was growing tired, and the old man had not helped him find the answer.

‘You must learn to close your eyes so you can open up your mind’, the monk said, startling the apprentice. ‘Trust is important, for from within yourself you must trust your mind’.

The apprentice mulled things over, and decided to rest his eyes. He had spent a year looking at the doors, and nothing has changed in their appearance. As he closed his eyes, his mind started to wonder. He thought about his life, what future each door could hold, and pondered on which one was right. It was important to make the right choice. Everything depends on it. For years his mind wondered, often in circles, but ultimately made no progress on deciding which door to take. He sat and thought long and hard for 5 years until he heard a familiar voice.

‘Your eyes can show you the world, and your mind can tell you what to see. Learn to control
your breath, and you learn to control your mind.’ Once again the monk seemed to appear out of thin air, and startled the young apprentice. ‘When you cannot see and you cannot think, take a deep breath and in, and out, and in, and out you will breath the air, clearing your mind and controlling your thought’, the monk said, smiling ear to ear.

This time the apprentice did not question the monk. He had already spent years trying to see which door was right door and tried to think which one was the correct one. He sat with his legs crossed, closed his eyes, opened his mind, and took a deep breath in. As he inhaled he felt the air travel through his body, and a wave of calmness fell over him. Again he took a breath, slow and deep, and again he exhaled, now thinking less of thought and more of nothing. He sat with his eyes closed, his mind open, breathing slowly and deeply for 15 years. Then one day he stood up and saw eye to eye with the monk, who had seemed yet again to appear out of nowhere again. They looked profoundly at each other for a moment, and then the apprentice began forward. He opened the door and walked through, continuing onwards without thought.

As he walked further down, he stood for a moment, curious, and looked back towards the two doors. There they stood side by side, yet here they led onto a single path. And he saw, faintly, the monk standing in the doorway dressed in orange robes and casting a toothless smile, waving goodbye to the not so young apprentice. So the apprentice turned and continued forward, and eventually came into an empty room with two giant wooden doors. He looked upon them both with deep and profound intent, and smiled.

On this day he chose to sit and close his eyes and open his mind with deep breaths. Here he found tranquility in the meditation, and after many years his robes began to faded and his teeth eventually fell out.

Then one day he stood up, alerted by a young man who seemed to have entered the room.

‘Which door am I supposed to take, sir?’ this young man asks.

The apprentice, now old and dressed in faded robes, smiled a toothless smile and said: “think carefully, you must make your choice wisely and move forward.”