Once there was a goat who was walking to town to eat with his friend the llama. As the goat was walking, he came upon a man who was looking like he was either about to scream or cry. The goat asked the man, “what’s wrong?”
The man replied that his wife had just left him.
The goat said, “well, that’s nice, gotta go,”
but the man said, “wait! I sense that you are an enlightened master who has come to teach me the way to enlightenment in my time of need. Please teach me all that you have to know.” The goat reluctantly agreed, and took the man on as a student. The man followed the goat for many days, and tried to talk about spiritual things. Every time he did, the goat would bite him on the arm or leg, whatever was closest. The man realized the wisdom in this, and began to enjoy the journey itself. However, one day, he was feeling unsatisfied with the situation, and pleaded with the goat to teach him something about the nature of the Universe.
The goat reluctantly agreed, and after finding a good place for meditative thought next to a lake, began to instruct the man: “Tell me, man, can these trees continue to grow if the sun stops shining?” “No, Master, it cannot. Without the sun, the trees will die.” “And what of the rivers? Can they continue to flow without the rain?” “No, Master, they cannot. Without the rain, the rivers will dry.” “And what of the teachings that lead to enlightenment? Can enlightenment occur without someone to teach the teachings of enlightenment?”
“No, Master, I do not believe that they can. Without a Master, all of the teachings will disappear, and no one will be able to be enlightened.”
“Wrong!” the goat said sharply. “In the case of the sunshine and trees, and in the case of the water and the river, there was always a cause and an effect. For each effect within the world, you can be sure there is a cause, and for each cause, there must, by definition, be an effect. But the teachings of enlightenment do not exist, and therefore have no cause or effect. Why not? Can you tell me why not?”
The man looked confused, and said, “Master, I don’t understand. Why do you say that the teachings of enlightenment do not exist?”
The goat breathed deeply, and said, “Okay, let me try my question in another way. You say I am an enlightened Master. How did I get to be an enlightened Master? Take your time and answer me correctly.” The man closed his eyes and thought deeply. Many different answers came through his head, but none of them felt correct. He waited until he thought of an answer that seemed so obvious, he wondered why he had not thought of it. “Through your past lifetimes, Master. You have been practicing for many lifetimes and you were able to overcome all hardships and reach enlightenment.”
“Wrong!” the goat said again. “Please, think about the answer and try again.” The man sighed, and again closed his eyes and thought deeply.
Again many answers came into his mind, and in fact many of the same answers came again and again. He began to doubt for a moment whether or not his first answer was correct, but he quickly removed all doubt from his mind with an effort of will. He then thought, in order for me to come up with the correct answer, I should stop thinking about anything at all. Then, all of a sudden, an answer came into his head. “Through the power of the Universe. You came to be a Master because of the power of the Universe, which somehow knew that I would need you. Everything works out! Everything has a plan! I understand now, Master!”
“Wrong again!” the goat said in the same tone as before. “This is the last time. Please, think about the answer and try again.”
The man began to breathe heavily. He was discouraged and couldn’t understand what the answer was supposed to be. He closed his eyes and tried to think deeply again. Something was bothering him, now. He thought that he had found some sort of new understanding, but now his doubt was now back, stronger than before. He tried and tried, but he couldn’t ignore it or push it away as before. Then, all of a sudden, it hit him. “Goats can’t talk!”
The goat got up from where he was sitting and bit the man on the arm, and walked away. The man was enlightened.
2015 …the year of the goat