“What must I do to always be happy?” asked the man.
“Why do you wish to always be happy?” asked the sage.
“So that I will never again be sad” said the man.
“Why do you wish to never again be sad?” asked the sage.
“Because sadness causes me great pain” said the man.
“Why do you wish to avoid pain?” asked the sage.
“Pain reminds me that I really am all alone – always. And I never again want to be alone” said the man.
“But if you are never alone, how do you know where the other ends and you truly begin?” asked the sage.
“Well, I believe that I have a life force, a soul if you will, separate and apart from everyone else” said the man.
“And does this belief of yours also make you sad or cause you pain?” asked the sage.
“In a way, yes” said the man.
“In what way does it also make you sad or cause you pain?” asked the sage.
“It means that I am wholly responsible for my own well being, for my own life force, for my own happiness – and that’s a frightening responsibility!” said the man.
“Do you therefore believe that you must knowingly choose or fail to choose the path to be, to do, or to have those very things of which you speak, even as the tides rise up against you?” asked the sage.
“Yes, of course. But shouldn’t that be obvious?” asked the man.
“It is as you say” observed the sage.
Happiness consists in finding out precisely what the “one thing necessary” may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed – Thomas Merton
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