Finally, I knew that I couldn't jump and reluctantly made my way back to the old man's room and stood there in front of everybody, pathetically defeated.
Weepasa laughed heartily, “Well, you actually do have some wisdom to go along with your tiny bit of compassion. Good! You cannot train with me unless you have both. Did you see your ‘self’ at the cliff? . . . Never mind. Your clumsy, but persistent, efforts so far in your quest might have qualified you for intensive instruction, even though you have little wisdom. But, if I decide to teach you, this is the last time you will talk with anybody, except me, for many years, as you put yourself in a concentrated training situation. Are you willing to do this?"
The stern tone of his voice sent shivers up my back, but this time I said “Yes" with more than a little reservation.
"Alright then, tomorrow at sunrise I will determine whether or not you will train with me, for my training is not for the weak-willed, " concluded Weepasa.
Something in me did trust this teacher, and furthermore, I never again wanted to feel as cowardly as I was feeling at this moment standing before him, which seemed worse than death itself. I could not help wonder, however, whether this unusual master knew that I wouldn't jump - or didn't care.
I was escorted to one of many rooms in the large building. It was small, with only one window and a plain mat on the floor. There were the usual water jug and cup on a small table with a candle and some incense - the sparse furnishings that reflect the uncluttered minds of key seekers.
Tomorrow I had to convince Weepasa to train me. He had the power to impart the wisdom of the Third Great Weapon, the last skill required to locate the feared Dragon of Atta, and I was confident that with this wisdom I would slay the dragon, without a doubt.
Weepasa was waiting impatiently, even though I walked into his room right on time. Without a “hello" or a welcoming smile he started right in, “My honored king, now we will determine if you are going to train with me or not. I am going to be very blunt because I do not have time to waste, unlike yourself, who apparently has plenty.
"So far in your training as a key seeker, you have made little progress. You have not done much better than people in the world caught up with their mindless pursuits. You are obsessed with this quest for the key and have fallen in love with it, no different from those of the world who are enamored by their pursuits. How are you any different from these people in the world and their futile escapes?"
A loaded question from this cagey master, and apparently he wasn't going to give me any time to leisurely consider a response - I had to answer spontaneously and directly from my heart.
"I don't know, " I answered.
"Hmmm, " he said. “. . . Why are you spending your entire life in a quest that you know nothing about? Is it because you have tried every possible escape - fame, wealth, power - and none of it worked? Are you continuing to delude yourself, thinking that you must find happiness; that you deserve happiness? You don't want merely a happy experience, do you? You insist on constant, unending happiness. You want, you want, you want! Did you not already experience happiness when you attained the First Great Calm? You weren't satisfied, were you? You still want to experience happiness repeatedly, and you want increasingly more exquisite feelings in the future. With your insatiable wants and desires, how can you stay in this moment where the truth can be found? Do you not recall the sorcerer sitting on your bed and informing you that you are caught in your prison of desires? Can you fathom how profound that statement was? Can you ever stop doing and wanting, and simply be?
I was hoping that his string of questions were rhetorical, as I had no answers.
"During your inner work, have you not seen happiness as a delight; as an emotion? Why would you continue to allow yourself to become attached to such things? Happiness is fully experienced in that one moment when it arises. It can never be possessed. Wanting it is far removed from the truth.
"So, king, give me one good reason you still seek the key. I am waiting for an answer and you had better be quick about it!"
This question was not rhetorical, and was the crucial question that would determine whether this master would train me. I also recognized that this obnoxious, overbearing man in his white robe was the only one who could now take me to the key, and my hour was late.
I did not hesitate a moment, he didn't give me time to hesitate. Again, I could only say what was in my heart, as I looked him in the eye with conviction and said,
"I can do nothing else. "
Paying no obvious attention to my answer, he continued, “Living the life of a key seeker simplifies your life, and since the Source is the ultimate simplification, you will come increasingly closer to the Source as you limit your choices. And the closer you come to Reality, the more your choices naturally simplify themselves, rising in an upward spiral to a single point until finally you will be able to actually remain in each moment continuously and without distraction.
"You now have a rare opportunity to take this simplification to that single point in your training here, but only by strenuous effort will you be able to resist hiding behind the false image you have of your ‘self, ’ so that you can go beyond it.
"If you are ready to do this, I will teach you. "
Yes! . . . I had passed the masters test, and it was so easy. I merely followed my heart and answered his two questions truthfully. The first advice that a John gave me so many years ago rang so true; “You will never find your key if you are not honest. " How could I ever repay that funny, little man with the constant grin?
"Tomorrow, you will meet here with me at the same time and I will introduce you to your last Great Weapon: Insight, " said Weepasa.
I returned to my room. It was hot in the unrelenting desert sun, reminding me of a closed cell and not at all like the cool feeling of the forest huts. I wasn't sure that I would like it here, but had heard somewhere in my travels that a hot climate and desolate landscape was conducive to deep awakenings. So, like it or not, I had made a commitment and was determined to see it through.
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com