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Behind the Grindstone: One With Everything

By Bill Bunting

March 29, 2024

I met a man sometime back who said while working as a pen rider in a feedlot in western Kansas he had worked with a cowboy named Harry who in his younger days had lived in a monastery. This sparked my interest because as far as I know I have never known anyone who lived in a monastery. It seems soon after high school Harry gathered his life savings and traveling many foreign lands on a spiritual journey, wound up at a monastery at the top of a mountain.

The monks, possibly feelin’ sorry for him, allowed him to join them. They took his remaining money, his boots and his pants and gave him a robe, sandals, and a vow of silence. The only person he was allowed to talk to was the head monk. For years Harry studied the writings of the great philosophers. He studied science and mathematics. He lit the right candles, he chanted the right chants, he burnt the right incense and yet what he sought evaded him. He sat on a rug on the mountain top, in the right position and hummed until he was hoarse. He sought nature, the trees, the rocks and waterfalls. Still no answer. He sought the moon and stars, the sun and the planets. Nothing. He fasted for weeks. No answer.

Finally, he went to the head monk. He said, “Master, I have been searching for an answer that has evaded me for years. You are old and wise; your hair and beard are long and grey. I come seeking your wisdom. What is the meaning of life?” The head monk gazed across the vast emptiness and stated, “I have found the meaning of life is to be one with everything.” “Yes!” Harry said, “Yes!” “Master, can you make me one with everything?” “No, grasshopper, this is a path you will have to walk alone.”

So, he gave Harry his pants and boots back along with the two dollars and twenty five cents he had come with and sent him on his way. As Harry traveled down the mountain he encountered many wise men. Philosophers, sages, doctors, lawyers, teachers, cowboys, and sheep herders. Upon asking each of them the same question, “Can you make me one with everything?” He received the same answer from all. “No, I cannot.” Finally, after days of walking, he came to the small town at the foot of the mountain where he had left on his journey. There at the edge of town was a park and in this park was a hot dog stand. By now Harry was getting desperate. He went up to the hot dog stand and said, “Please Sir, can you make me one with everything?” “Yes, siree Bub. Comin’ right up. That will be two dollars and a quarter.”

Sometimes life is just not as complicated as we try to make it.

At least, that’s the view here from behind the grindstone.

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