Humble i


The temple had a good number of rare manuscripts, and the librarian, an excellent scholar, catalogued them efficiently and arranged for their publication. Scholars came to consult him from distant centres of learning, and the temple and its librarian became famous.
One day a visitor was congratulating him on his great contributions to learning, and the priest looked out of the window and pointed to an old man sweeping up the leaves in the garden.
“That is a humble task,” he said with a very kindly smile. “And people sometimes forget that the library, and the whole temple in fact, is supported on humble work like that, humble work like that. In their own way, he and others like him make a great contribution.”
The visitor was impressed, and when he said farewell to the abbot he mentioned the incident. “When I saw that humble man sweeping up the leaves,” he said, “and listened to such kind words about him by that wonderful scholar the librarian, I realized the unity of the temple for the first time.”
“Oh, he’s not exactly humble,” answered the abbot. “He’s thinking that although the librarian is so famous and he himself is unknown outside this temple, still when the spiritual truth comes out (and if he has anything to do with it, it soon will), it will be the simple gardener who is acclaimed, and the arrogant librarian who is humiliated. And in the meantime, he gives the assistant gardener hell.
“Both those two have some way to go before they realize that becoming famous as a librarian and sweeping the leaves in the garden are spiritually the same thing. They are occasions for practise and ultimately illumination and inspiration; the outward form of the occasion has no importance at all.
“The Buddha-wind is turning the leaves in the library through the fingers of the librarian, and turning the leaves in the garden through the broom of the gardener, but it is not the same Buddha-wind.