1Let me begin with a story: “There was an old woman in China who had supported a monk for over twenty years. She had built a little hut for him and fed him while he spent his time meditating.

Finally she wondered just what progress he had made in 20 years. To find out, she obtained the help of a girl rich in desire. “Go and embrace him,” she told her, and then directed her to ask him suddenly: ‘What now?’

The girl called upon the monk and without much ado caressed him, asking him what he was going to do about it. “An old tree grows on a cold rock in winter,” replied the monk somewhat poetically. “Nowhere is there any warmth.” The girl returned and related what he had said to the woman who had sent her to the monk.

“To think I fed that fellow for twenty years!” exclaimed the old woman in anger: “He showed no consideration for your need, no disposition to explain your condition. He need not have responded to passion, but at least he could have shown some compassion;” She at once went to the hut of the monk and burned it down.

How advanced do you think this monk was in his spiritual life? He had been in meditation for 20 years and when a young woman comes and unexpectedly embraces him he responds poetically – An old tree (an old man) grows on a cold rock in winter (has no emotions/ is as cold as in winter).

Nowhere is there any warmth (everything is gone, I am totally dispassionate). Is this a spiritual goal?

The old woman remarks thus: ‘To think I fed that good for nothing fellow for twenty years” and exposes his pretension: “you need not have responded to passion, but you should have shown compassion.”

Passion and compassion—they go together, you cannot separate them.

If you do not have passion, you do not have compassion. The young girl comes to the monk and he talks to her about his own attainment. “I have become dispassionate, I have become free, I have no more desires, I have no more emotional needs, nothing!’ He is not listening to the young woman; does not acknowledge her or her needs. He does not respond to her at all. This is why the old woman considers that he has not grown spiritually in all his years of meditating.

You are practising meditation and trying to live a spiritual life, so ask yourself: what is the goal of spending your time this way? Why do you do it? The goal should be in Zen terms: enlightenment and compassion. Put in more general terms and it would be: fullness of life.

Jesus said; “I came so that they may have life and have it more abundantly”. Life in this sense does not mean just a biological life; it means fullness of life. It means love, freedom, joy, peace, and justice. Meditation should lead there, to fullness, and not simply to a destruction of your passions and emotions. It is emotions that we need to understand and address in order to help us and others. But one major problem with some of the Buddhist meditations is that they discard, ignore and even deny emotions and the body. (The author, a Jesuit priest, runs a Zen retreat near Kodaikanal).

Source : http://www.speakingtree.in/