by Ramesh Balsekar (in “Enlightened Living”)
Every month the disciple faithfully sent his Master an account of his progress.
In the first month he wrote: "I feel an expansion of consciousness and experience my oneness with the Universe." The master glanced at the note and threw it away.
The following month, this is what he had to say: "I have finally discovered that the Divine is present in all things." The Master seemed disappointed.
The third month the disciple’s words enthusiastically exclaimed: "The mystery of the One and the many have been revealed to my wondering gaze." The Master shook his head and again threw the letter away.
The next letter said: "No one is born, no one lives, no one dies, for the ego-self is not." The master threw his hands up in utter despair.
After that a month passed by, then two, then five months – and finally a whole year without another letter. The master thought it was time to remind his disciple of his duty to keep him informed of his spiritual progress.
Then the disciple wrote back: "Who cares?"
When the Master read those words a look of great satisfaction spread over his face.
This format of initially funny-looking but eventually thought-provoking anecdotes (called "koans") are used in Zen teaching. Anthony De Mello, a Jesuit priest who conducted spiritual retreats at Lonavla (a hill station near Mumbai) for many years, has written a number of books that are superb collections of such stories sourced from all religions. Some of them are "One Minute Wisdom", "Song of the Bird" and "The Prayer of the Frog".