Once upon a time, a young prince asked his teacher, a renowned monk: “What does the future hold for me?” The teacher replied: “You’ll encounter three doors on your journey in life. On each door, you’ll see some words. When you read them, you’ll understand. I’ll be waiting for you after you’ve passed through the third door.”
Changing yourself is better than changing others
Shortly after, the prince left his palatial abode to journey out into the world. When he came across the first door, he saw the words “Change the world” inscribed on it. “I’ll start changing the world as I deem fit,” he thought.
“I’ll begin by getting rid of everything that I don’t like.”
A few years later, the prince came across the second door, which read: “Change somebody else.” The prince thought: “I’ll start instilling righteous thoughts in people, so that they’ll be able to improve their character.” Several years later, he came upon the third door, which read: “Change yourself.” The prince then realized: “It’s time for me to improve my own character.”
Later, the prince saw his teacher and said:
“After walking through these three doors, I now know it’s better to change the people in this world instead of changing the world, and it’s better to change myself instead of changing others.”
The teacher smiled then said: “Perhaps you should walk through these three doors again.”
Accept the world and then embrace it
So, the prince began making his way back. Days later, he saw the third door, but it looked different than before. It read, “Accept yourself.” The prince suddenly realized why he had felt self-contempt whenever he failed to make positive changes in his character. It was because he had refused to acknowledge and accept his own shortcomings.
He had always focused on what he could not do, thereby glossing over his many strengths. The prince decided then and there to learn how to appreciate and accept himself.
When he came upon the second door, which read “Accept others,” he understood why he had always harbored so much resentment and grievances towards others. It was because he had refused to accept the differences between himself and others, making him incapable of understanding the difficulties that everyday people face in their lives. So, he began to learn how to tolerate others.
A few days later, the prince came upon the first door, which read: “Accept the world.” He then realized that he had failed to change the world because he had refused to admit that some things in life simply cannot be changed.
He also realized that forcing his will upon people and failing to see their strong points was the reason he had always met with so much resistance from others. So, he decided to practice opening up his heart to the world and embracing it. At that moment, his teacher appeared and said:
“You now understand the meaning of harmony and tranquility.”
Translated by Yi Ming.
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