Thirty Six Years of Silence and Four Precept Enlightenment


An aspiring Monk wanted to find a Guru. He went to a monastery and his preceptor told him: “You can stay here but we have one important rule – all students observe the vow of silence. You will be allowed to speak in 12 years time.”

After practicing for 12 long years silent meditation etc., the day came when the student could say his one thing or ask his one question. He said: “The bed is too hard.”

He kept going for another 12 years of hard silent meditation and got the opportunity to speak again. He said: “The food is not good.”

Twelve more years of hard work and he got to speak again. Here are his words after 36 years of practice: “I quit.”

His Guru quickly answered: “Good, all you have been doing anyway is complaining.”


*There is a famous story about Ko Bong (Zen Master) giving the Five Precepts to layperson Chung Dong Go Sanim. The ceremony was going smoothly until the section where the preceptor recites the precepts and asks “Can these precepts be kept by you or not?”

Suddenly the layman stood up and said “If I cannot drink I die!” Now, there was a problem.

But Ko bong responded immediately, “Then you take only four precepts.” Chung Dong Go Sanim became the “Four Precept Layman,” and got “four precept enlightenment.”

*Excerpt from Don’t Know Mind – Richard Shrobe

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