The Happy Monk
Once upon a time， there was a high class rich man.As he became older， he realized that the suffering of oldage was about the same for rich and poor alike. So hegave up his wealth and class position， and went into theforest to live as a poor monk. He practiced meditationand developed his mind. He freed himself fromunwholesome thoughts， and became contented and happy.His peacefulness and friendliness gradually drew 500followers to his side.
At that time， long ago， most monks usually lookedpretty serious. But there was one monk who， even thoughhe was quite dignified， always wore at least a little smile.No matter what happened， he never lost this glimmer ofinner happiness. And on happy occasions， he had thebroadest smile， and the warmest laughter of all.
Sometimes monks， as well as others， would ask himwhy he was so happy that he always wore a smile. Hechuckled and said，If I told you， you wouldnt believe me!And if you thought I spoke a lie， it would be a dishonorto my masterf The wise old master knew the source ofthe happiness that could not be wiped from his face. Hemade this happiest monk his number one assistant.
One year， after the rainy season， the old monk andhis 500 followers went to the city. The king permittedthem to live in his pleasure garden for the springtime.
This king was a good man， who took hisresponsibilities as ruler seriously. He tried to protect thepeople from danger， and increase their prosperity andwelfare. He always had to worry about neighboring kings，some of whom were unfriendly and threatening. He oftenhad to make peace between his own rival ministers ofstate.
Sometimes his wives fought for his attention， and forthe advancement of their sons. Occasionally， a dissatisfiedsubject even threatened the life of the king himself! Andof course， he had to worry constantly about the financesof the kingdom. In fact， he had so much to worry about，that he never had time to be happy!
As summer approached， he learned that the monkswere preparing to return to the forest. Considering thehealth and welfare of the old leader， the king went to himand said， Your reverence， you are now very old andweak. What good does it do to go back to the forest? Youcan send your followers back， while you remain here.
The chief monk then called his number one assistantto him and said， You are now to be the leader of theother monks， while you all live in the forest. As I am tooold and weak， I will remain here as offered by the king.So the 500 returned to the forest and the old oneremained.
The number one assistant continued practicingmeditation in the forest. He gained so much wisdom andpeace that he became even happier than before. Hemissed the master， and wanted to share his happiness withhim. So he returned to the city for a visit.
When he arrived， he sat on a rug at the feet of theold monk. They didnt speak very much， but every so oftenthe number one assistant would say， What happiness! Ohwhat happiness!
Then the king came to visit. He paid his respects tothe chief monk. However， the one from the forest justkept saying， What happiness! Oh what happiness! He didnot even stop to greet the king and show proper respect.This disturbed him， and he thought， With all my worries，as busy as I am looking after the kingdom， I take time outfor a visit and this monk does not respect me enough toeven recognize me. How insulting! He said to the seniorof the two monks， Venerable sir， this monk must bestupid from overeating. That must be why he is so full ofhappiness. Does he lie around here so lazy all the time?
The head monk replied， Oh king， have patience andI will tell you the source of his happiness. Not many knowit. He was once a king， just as rich and mighty as you!Then he was ordained a monk and gave up his kingly life.Now he thinks his old happiness was nothing compared to his present joy!
He used to be surrounded by armed men， whoguarded and protected him. Now， sitting alone in theforest with nothing to fear， he has no need for armedguards. He has given up the burden of worrying aboutwealth that has to be protected. Instead， free of the worryof wealth and the fear of power， his wisdom protectshimself and others. He advances in meditation to suchinner peace， that he cannot keep from saying， Whathappiness! Oh what happiness!
The king understood at once. Hearing the story ofthe happy monk made him feel at peace. He stayed for awhile and received advice from both of them. Then hehonored them， and returned to the palace.
Later the happy monk， who once had been a king，paid his respects to his master and returned to the lovelyforest. The old chief monk lived out the remainder of hislife， died， and was reborn in a high heaven world.
The moral is： Unattached to wealth and power，happiness increases.
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