Zen Story on Spiritual Progress
Little John rushed into Zen Master Blumise’s arms, delighted to be in the company of his most favorite honorary Grandpa. Master Blumise was equally thrilled to have Little John visit. Soon after his birth, Little John’s mother, Linda, had brought John to Master Blumise for his blessings and Master Blumise had immediately recognized, even at that tender age, the great spiritual aura that emanated brightly from the little boy. Since then Master Blumise had kept an eye on the boy and helped guide the parents such that John’s spiritual growth would be nurtured and cultivated. The parents had responded well and now John, at the age of 9, was a being with a vital confident presence, abundant awareness, a swift intellect and a deep love for the wonders and mysteries of life.
“Greetings Masterji,” said Linda, bowing in respect to the great Zen Teacher. “You look troubled,” answered Master Blumise, sensing her disturbed mind. “How can I help?” he asked.
“Masterji, Little John has been failing all his exams lately at school. He has been doing terribly and at this rate may not be allowed to progress to the next grade. It’s very strange because it’s not that he does not know the answer to the exam questions, it’s that he just leaves the answer section mostly blank. I don’t know what to do. Please help me figure out what is going on?”
Master Blumise thought for a moment, or at least pretended to. He then turned to Linda and asked, “What does he eat for breakfast on the exam days?”
“Oh my God, I never thought it could be the food. Maybe it is making him sick. He usually eats his cereal. Should I change that?”
Without addressing her question, Master Blumise continued, “What time does he go to sleep on the day before the exam?”
“Oh my God, perhaps he is overtired from studying. Should I put him to bed earlier?”
Again, ignoring her question the Master continued his interrogation, “Where does he sit in class?”
“Huh? Could he be distracted perchance?”
“What color shirt does he wear?”
“Red is his favorite color, he wears his Spider Man shirt quite often. Why?”
“How far do you live from school?”
“Why? He gets there on time.”
“What’s his youngest cousin’s middle name?”
“Where did you go on vacation last?”
“How much did your shoes cost?” The interrogation went on and on, and finally it was just Master Blumise asking and a bemused Linda staring back at him and Little John giggling at the whole scene. “I GET IT, YOU CAN STOP NOW!” She finally exclaimed.
“You have a special child Linda dear. His only concern is fast becoming the highest purpose of life, which is to Discover the Truth and solve the problem of suffering. He has understood, not only that questions are a key component in one’s self study, but also that Irrelevant Questions Lead to Unimportant Answers. This is one of the most important lessons to learn in life. Most people just ask the wrong questions and therefore, even as they discover the right answers, the answers are not at all important. Asking the right questions is an invaluable tool for progress on the spiritual path. For John, who is not interested in training for a vocation, the questions in the examination are irrelevant so he just doesn’t bother with them. I assure you, though, that if you ask him about suffering, self, desire, meditation and freedom he will be most keen to indulge in a discussion.”
This lesson is invaluable and worth repeating. Asking the right questions is perhaps the most critical tool for spiritual evolution and Irrelevant Questions Lead to Unimportant Answers. People come to me all the time to discuss matters related to spirituality and often I find their questions distant and unhelpful. They are interested in all kinds of superfluous aspects of religion, that play little role in the discovery of Truth and spiritual growth. They ask religiously oriented questions regarding cultural issues, social issues, political issues, financial issues, literary issues, family issues, global spiritual gossip, etc. and answers to these questions are of little use in their Journey back to the Absolute. Enlightenment has to do with bringing about a realization in yourself and that should be the primary area of your inquiry. So it is most important, if you are interested in enlightenment, to ask and wield the right questions and not waste life chasing answers to useless ones.