A young prince, Jurou, was consumed with ennui. He summoned the wise master monk, Daizan, from a monastery high in the mountains and asked, “Tell me, monk, how do I rid myself of this feeling?”
The monk bowed and said, “Majesty, you must shed the weight of material things. You must let go of all your possessions.”
The prince was suspicious, but since the monk was the most famous and enlightened person in the kingdom, he reluctantly moved all his wealth and possessions into storage. But he felt no different, and it was a pain to retrieve things from the basement, so he summoned the monk again.
“Monk, I have done without all my possessions and I still feel weighed down.”
The monk looked around at the empty palace, bowed, and said, “Majesty, you still own your possessions and wealth. You have not truly cast these things off.”
The prince instructed his servants to distribute all his wealth and possessions throughout the kingdom and beyond. It took many months, and when he was done, the prince still felt encumbered.
The monk was summoned again. When he arrived, he looked at the servants milling about the empty palace waiting for orders from the prince. He bowed and said, “Majesty, you still hold onto the power over your servants and subjects and you inhabit this opulent space. Let these go and you will feel lighter.”
The prince dismissed his servants, renounced his power over his subjects, and abandoned his palace for a hut tucked in the back of the monastery grounds. He still felt no less encumbered and he complained to the master monk.
The monk bowed and said, “You still cling, in your mind, to your power and possessions. Release your hold on these thoughts.”
The former prince meditated and fasted for fifteen days and then went to see the monk and bowed. “Master I have freed myself of all thoughts of my former life. Why do I still feel this weight?”
The monk bowed and said, “You are are full of yourself for your recent accomplishments. You must empty yourself of pride.”
The former prince, now a novitiate monk, meditated and fasted for fifteen more days.
Finally, he returned to the master monk and said, “I have let go of my pride. I have nothing left.”
“And yet you are still hunched as though shouldering a heavy weight. You must let go of your ‘nothing’ as well.”
The novitiate went back to his hut confused, but determined. He meditated and fasted for two more weeks. When he returned to the master monk, he was taller and seemed to glide on air. He bowed and sat down.
The master monk waited, but the novitiate made no sound and only stared straight ahead. After a few minutes the master monk got up and called a meeting of all the monks in the monastery. When the monks were assembled, he pointed to the new monk and said, “This is Mujūryoku. He is your new master.” He bowed to the new master and retired to the hut at the rear of the monastery, where he lived the rest of his days in solitude.
The new master monk’s ordination name, Mujūryoku, means “Weightless One.” He taught for over fifty years and guided over one hundred disciples to enlightenment. On the day he died, his last words were, “Now I will truly live up to my name.”