A Lesson Learned
By: Angelina Shirey
He ran his master's words through his mind over and over again. It is time for you to face civilization on your own. You must nurture the virtues I have taught you. He couldn't believe these words. This small and scrawny 15 year old to be left on his own in a place he's never been to. What could I learn from this? he thought. From a young age, Bankei was raised in the mountaintops on Nepal to become a monk. He trained and was taught lessons by his master. It was a fairly peaceful life, as he had never had to leave. His master never took him with him when he went on trips. But now, he had to leave his master behind. So, the next day he dressed and left for the village of Koshi. He was extremely reluctant, but his master assured him that he only needed to find peace within, and he would be fine. As he started down the mountain, he realized just how pretty the sky looked, and immediately relaxed. He slowly made his way down, taking in the scenery. After three hours of walking, he realized that he was lost. The sun was begin to set and panic arose in Bankei's mind. What if I am lost here forever? What if I am attacked by an animal? I don't have any belongings with me besides the clothing on my back. I am so far from my master and my home. What am I supposed to do? he thought nervously. He began to run, frantic, trying to find some sort of landmark that he would recognize. But, there were none. Then, he remembered his master's lesson. Master taught me to keep good thoughts, for if I kept good thoughts, I would not suffer any harm, he realized. He relaxed and took deep breaths, pushing the bad thoughts out. Once his mind was cleared, he turned around and began taking careful steps in the opposite direction. Soon enough, he saw the lights of a bustling city below him. That must be Koshi, he thought. He continued his trek down the mountain until he made it to the village. As soon as he got onto the main road, he was surrounded by people on all sides. He couldn't tell which direction he came from, or which direction he needed to go. Just when he decided which path he wanted to go down, he felt a deep rumble in his stomach. He ignored it, and continued down the pathway. The sun had set by now and it started to get cold. Maybe I should lay down somewhere to sleep for the evening, Bankei decided. He looked around, trying to find a decent spot to sleep for the night. He spotted an alley, lit by a nearby food vendor, and headed down it. It was only slightly lit, the rest cold and dark. He found a spot in the corner, and laid down for the night. As he was laying there, he could smell the food coming from the food vendor. His stomach rumbled again, painfully. I wish I had brought food with me, now I am starving with no food or money, he thought regretfully. He decided to settle down for the night anyway, rolling over and falling asleep to the rhythmic grumbles coming from his stomach. He dreamed a horrific dream that night. In his dream, he saw himself, laying in the alley. But in this dream, he had died in his sleep from starvation. No one came for him, or found him until days later. No one knew who he was, or where he came from. He awoke, startled, in a cold sweat. The sun had just started to rise, and vendors were beginning to open for another day. Bankei's stomach rumbled again, reminding him of his nightmare. I need to get food soon, he thought, panicked. He stood up, walking down the street. He felt very weak, and could hardly get up, let alone start to walk. He stumbled upon a medicine store. He opened the door and headed inside, hoping that someone there would help him. A bell rang as the door opened and a smiling man turned around to look at the visitor. The man was taller than Bankei, but was much older. He wore a simple shirt and some shorts. Bankei took in his appearance and walked towards him.
"Hello. I am Ando. It is a pleasure to meet you. I am the medicine man here and it would be an honor to serve a monk. What is your name?" the smiling man said.
"My name is Bankei," Bankei said, his stomach grumbled, "I am very hungry, but I have no money. Would you be willing to help me?"
"Yes. I have the perfect thing for you." Ando replied. Bankei watched as he turned around, grabbing some herbs out of jars on a shelf. There are so many. I wonder how he keeps track of them all, he thought in amazement. Ando crushed the herbs with his mortar and pestle. He mixed them with some boiling water, allowing them to dissolve in the water. He poured the water into a cup and handed it to Bankei. "A healing potion for you. This should fill you up and return your strength for your trek home."
"Thank you sir. I am afraid that I do not have anything to repay you with." Bankei said shyly as he drank the potion.
"That is no problem. Just keep me in mind when you return and put a good word in for me with your master. Please come back sometime." Ando replied happily. Bankei waved and headed out the door, starting his trek up the mountain back to his master. He felt rejuvenated, his strength coming back to him. He didn't feel hungry anymore either. This time when heading up the mountain, Bankei made sure to keep his mind clear. He had no problem getting up the mountain, and was home with his master in no time. He walked in, removed his shoes, and headed over to greet his master. He bowed deeply and spoke, "Hello master. I have returned from my journey."
"I see. How did it go? Did you meet anyone while there?" his master responded.
"I got lost but I remembered your teachings. I met a medicine man there named Ando that fed me. He told me to tell you about him."
"Ah yes. I met Ando when I first visited Koshi. He was incredibly kind to me, and helped me too. I am glad that you have returned. You have mastered your virtues, and can begin the next level of your training."
"Thank you master" Bankei turned and left the room, heading up to his room. He laid down, and fell asleep, happy to have made it back. The next morning he woke up to his master coming in. "Good morning master." he said.
"Good morning Bankei. Would you like to begin your training?" his master asked.
"Yes please master. What will I be doing?" Bankei asked curiously.
"You will be joining me on a trip to another village to get some more herbs." his master replied. They both ate, packed some stuff, and headed out to begin Bankei's new lessons.