Once in ancient Korea, a monk master and his student were traveling to another city. Back then, there were no buses, so they had to walk. Since the student was young and strong, he carried most of their luggage on his back.
During the walk, the student complained many times, saying, “Master, this bag is heavy, can we rest for a bit?”
The master replied, “We already rested recently. If you keep resting, when will we ever reach our destination?”
The student grumbled to himself but continued to march on.
Later, they were passing through a small town, when a beautiful woman suddenly came onto the path and blocked them. She started speaking in a language they could not understand. Suddenly, she cried out loudly. Then, many villagers came.
Seeing this beautiful woman screaming near these two men, the villagers jumped to the conclusion that perhaps these two men were harassing the woman. Thus, they took out sticks, pointed at the two men, and shouted, “Attack them!”
Seeing the villagers about to attack him, the old master rushed ahead. The student naturally followed.
After running for a short while, the villagers stopped following them. The master and his student stopped to catch their breath. The master then looked at the student and said, “So, is the bag still heavy?”
The student was surprised and replied, “That’s strange. Just now, all I could think about was running for my life, so I didn’t feel the bag was heavy at all.”
We are all carrying luggage on this journey called life. Some of us feel our luggage is very heavy. Others indeed have heavy luggage but don’t feel that it is heavy. Why? Because they have a life mission or purpose that attracts all their attention, such that they don’t even notice the weight of their luggage. Or even if they do notice the heaviness, they have the strength to keep carrying it.
So what is the key to having a strong purpose in life? Gratitude and service. We have so much to be grateful for in our lives, such as
- Parents for raising us and worrying about us all the time
- Teachers for teaching us the knowledge and skills that allow us to make a living
- Ancestors for keeping the family line alive generation after generation
- The nation for providing essential services and protecting us
- All people for their countless services and contributions
When think about all the gratitude we receive every single day, we naturally feel responsible to give back to the world in whatever way we can. At home, that means making our parents happy. In society, that means doing our jobs well. The more we serve others, the more we forget ourselves, and the more fulfilled we feel in life. As Gandhi said,
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
How heavy does your luggage feel? How strong is your purpose?