A number of young men and young women in Lo Zu’s village gathered around him
one day and one of them said, “Many people, even from other villages, say that
you are a great sage, a man of vast wisdom who carries the truth; please show us
how to carry the truth with us.”
After a considerable length of silence, Lo Zu stood up and said, “If you want the truth, follow me and do exactly what I say, but it will be a very arduous journey with many difficulties.” Then Lo Zu took his meandering cane and began walking, and all of the youth eagerly followed him, with excitement and expectation in their eyes.
He walked through a very large meadow, often bending down to examine the beautiful wildflowers and
insects (while deeply enjoying them). The youth all followed. Then he walked into a thick forest
containing many creeks harboring extremely slippery rocks. All of the youth were somewhat afraid,
but they continued to follow him. After a couple of hours, they came out of the forest
and began climbing a small mountain, all following Lo Zu carefully and diligently. When they
finally reached a very lofty height, Lo Zu stopped walking and began carefully placing large
rocks in each of the youths’ hands. As he placed the large rocks in the hands of each of the
young followers, he said, “These are very special, sacred stones of truth; please carry these back to the
village very carefully, without dropping any; please do not drop the truth.”
Each of the youth carried a number of stones. They followed Lo Zu down off of the mountain. They struggled on their way through the dark forest; it was very
perilous and difficult with the weight of the stones making their journey all the more excruciating. As they walked through the large meadow, back toward the
village, many of them were aching with pain from the tiresome journey and from the heavy weight of the stones (over time).
When they finally reached the village, Lo Zu told them to place the stones in a large pile. It was the end of the day, getting dark, and everyone was extremely exhausted (except for Lo Zu who did not carry any stones). Lo Zu asked them, then, to stand in a circle around the stones. Then Lo Zu remarked to them all, “Here is the truth you worked so diligently for. These stones are absolutely worthless. They are not any different from any other stones that one can find. You believed in me, hoping for the truth to be handed to you. Out of your confusion, you decided that I always held the truth (to give to you). Many people, out of confusion, choose high-ranking “others” to lead them to the truth; out of their confusion, they choose! They go to temples and ask the temple-keepers to give them the truth. What the temple-keepers generally give, however, is as useless as these rocks. Nevertheless, people blindly and devotedly adhere to what they say, just as you have done with me today. It is evening, and you may be disappointed to find that you have wasted your whole day. Do not feel too wronged by this. Many people have wasted their entire lives in carrying the worthless stones, burden, weighty images, and so-called sacred statues of others, and it isn’t evening at the end of it for them; it is the time of their death. They wasted not a day but their entire life, and the sacred eluded them.
Therefore, do not cling to any groups or authoritarian leaders who claim to give concrete methods toward the truth; instead,
find living truth within, without using taxing systems or time.
The first step and the last step are one.”