The Evocative Story of the Monk and the Merchant

· May 20, 2019
This story teaches a life lesson about human nature that might surprise you. Read on to discover it!

The story of the monk and the merchant begins in a humble village. All the inhabitants of the village lived in harmony in spite of their scarce resources. The villagers were kind to each other and had a strong sense of community. A monastery was located near the village, and the monks who lived there always looked after their neighbors.

Since the monks had a good wheat harvest that year, the head monk asked one of his brothers to gather a good amount of it and take it to the village in a wagon. They shared all their food because they believed that only through sharing would they experience the joy of abundance.

The monk was very obedient and attentive so he carried out his teacher’s order straight away. With his own hands, he gathered two bundles of wheat and placed them on the wagon one by one. When he was done, the only think he could think about was how happy the villagers would be when he gave them the wheat.

“The one charm about the past is that it is the past.”

-Oscar Wilde-

The Encounter between the Monk and the Merchant

The next day, the monk got up very early to take the wagon to the village. Although he noticed from the beginning that the wagon was quite heavy, he didn’t think too much of it. He was preoccupied with making sure he took the largest amount of wheat possible to their neighbors. Thus, he tied down the bundles as best he could and hitched up the three strongest horses.

The monk started the path to the village, which was three miles away. The morning was beautiful and the monk was filled with joy. He imagined the faces of the hungry people who would get the wheat. They probably hadn’t had this much food in a long time. He was thinking about all of this when the horses suddenly startled. Before he could react, he lost control of the wagon.

He tried to rein in the horses but it was impossible. The wagon suddenly came unhitched and started to roll down the hill. Unfortunately, there was a merchant passing by at that very moment. Destiny was about to unite the monk and the merchant forever.

A covered wagon.

The Weight of Tragedy

Everything happened so fast. The monk didn’t know how the wagon hit the merchant. When he saw him on the ground, bloody and unconscious, he ran for help as fast as he good, but in vain. The merchant had died. From that point on, it was like the monk and the merchant had become one person.

Soon after that, some villagers came to help him. He gave them the wheat and he headed back to his monastery. He felt like his soul was shattered into pieces. From that day on, he saw the merchant’s face everywhere he went. When he slept, he dreamed of him. When he woke up, he couldn’t think about anything else. The image of the dead man haunted him.

The monk finally asked his teacher for advice. The teacher told him that he couldn’t go on living like this and that he had to forgive himself. The monk told him that that would be impossible. He felt terribly guilty about what happened. Maybe if the wagon hadn’t been so heavy, he would have been able to control it and avoid hitting the merchant.

The monk and the merchant.

The Lesson of the Monk and the Merchant

The story goes that the monk couldn’t shake his feeling of deep regret for months. The more he thought about it, the guiltier he felt. Upon seeing this, the teacher made a decision. He called the monk and told him once again that he couldn’t go on living like this.

Then, the teacher advised him to take his own life. The monk was surprised but quickly understood that perhaps that was his only way out. Nevertheless, he didn’t have the courage to do it himself. The teacher told him not to worry. He would take it upon himself to cut off his disciple’s head. The monk, resigned to his fate, accepted.

The teacher sharpened his sword and then asked the monk to kneel and put his head on a stone. The monk did as he was told. The teacher raised the sword over his head and the monk began to shake. He broke out into a cold sweat. He was terrified. Then, the teacher brought the sword down over his neck but stopped mere inches above his skin.

A beautiful sunset.

The monk was paralyzed with fear. His teacher then asked him: “During these last few moments, have you thought about the merchant?” The monk replied that he hadn’t. The only thing he could think about was the sword cutting through his neck. The teacher then said: “That means that your mind is able to distance itself from that bad memory. If you did it once, you can do it again.”