One day, a great teacher was wandering through the country in search of new wisdom. He was a great teacher, and for many days, he would enter a village and people would soon recognize him and ask for his teachings and guidance. He was, of course, happy to oblige, but in a sense he was saddened not to find a place that truly inspired him, a place where he could go unnoticed and become a student again.
So it was many days walk before people did not know who he was.
Then, he happened upon a village where a great number of people were gathered, listening to a young man speaking. The teacher went and sat with the people to listen. What he heard amazed him. His heart soared with joy. The things this young man was saying were truly wonderful, and so very wise, so very insightful.
When the young man finished, the teacher went quickly up to him. "My friend, please say it is you who has discovered these wonderful thoughts!"
The young man replied, "No my friend. These are the thoughts of a great teacher who lives many days from here. But if you like, I have many writings of his which you can copy. Please, my home is not far."
And with that, the teacher went to the young man's house and began to read and write the thoughts of a great teacher who live many days away. When he finished and traveled back to his home, he could barely stop smiling. He stopped often to simply stand in awe of a small bent little tree, or the great river, or a small child playing. Each of these things, and many more, had new meaning for the teacher. When he arrived home, he wrote for many, many days. His inspiration had been found and each day as the sun set in the direction which the great teacher lived, he asked that it deliver a message of thanks, for he did not know when he would ever be able to travel that far to meet his honored teacher.
When the great teacher's new writings were complete, the countryside was infused with new life. People traveled far and wide to spread the wondrous new teachings. People found new hope and new peace, unlike they had ever known before. The great teacher was highly revered.
It was about this time, the other great teacher was wandering through the country, in search of inspiration and freshness. He had grown tired of his own thoughts and was hoping to go far enough from his village that he might go unnnoticed. Then he would be able to be a student again.
One day, he came upon a village during a lively celebration in honor of a great teacher who lived far away. But they celebrated, because even though he lived far away, his teachings were able to travel far and revive their village.
At the celebration, many different people spoke from the texts of the great teacher. The teacher thought his luck could not have been greater and he spent the rest of the celebration listening to as much of this great teacher's writings and thoughts as he could. When the celebration was over, he walked many days back to his village and began writing again. He was so happy and so amazed at how these new thoughts inspired him with such passion. He wrote for many, many days.
When he was finished he was exhausted, but never before had he known such peace. He made sure that each morning, when the sun rose from the direction of the great teacher's home, to ask if the powerful sun could cast admiration and gratitude so far back to where the sun had been before, to the great teacher.
For many years, things happened in this way. The two teachers would travel far from their homes to be students again and be inspired by each others work, and then return to their home to write more, which would, in turn, inspire each other even more. And yet, all the while, they had no idea they were inspiring each other.
Each day, each year, they would fall into more and more admiration for each other. Each day, each year, they felt more and more awe for their great teacher who inspired them so. And each day, each year, they began to wonder how they could ever thank their great teacher for all of the wondrous things they had learned.
So, it was one day, when the great teacher decided it was time for him to meet his great teacher and he set out to walk days and days and days to the home of the great teacher. This great journey seemed perfect to him, for he figured it would take so many days of concentration and purpose to think of a way to express such great gratitude towards his teacher. With each step he took, his heart soared higher. With each bend in the trail, his gratitude grew. With each day, his love for his great teacher strengthened. He knew when he met his great teacher, he would fall to his knees and kiss the feet of the teacher. He had thought of thousands of words and thousands of ways to say thank you, to express his love and humbleness. He did not know which of these thousands of words would tumble from his mouth, but he already knew they were insufficient to express his feelings, to express the peace found. But he realized, this teacher was so great, he would surely need no explanation. He would surely know immediately from the look in his eye, for is it not the eyes that give away the secrets of the soul? Certainly all the gratitude and awe and love would spill out of his eyes when he stood before the great teacher. And it was this final knowingness that brought at last to the village of the great teacher.
He asked around and was soon taken to the house in which the great teacher had written so many beautiful thoughts and truths.
A maid answered the door. When she heard of the teachers great journey from far away, she was so very ashamed to inform the teacher that her master was not at home, but was also on a great journey, also hoping to meet his great teacher.
When the teacher inquired which way this teacher's teacher was, she regreted even further that she did not know, for her master had hastily decided to go and left in the middle of the night, leaving only a note saying he would be gone for a long time, and that he must find his great teacher.
At first, the teacher felt much sadness, for he had traveled so far only to find a young maid who regreted her news. For this he could not blame her. But a new conviction grew in him, for he could only imagine how wonderful the teacher's teacher was. And what if someday, he could meet them both. Knowing of the existence of an even greater teacher filled the teacher with joy. He decided to journey back to his village and wait one year and then return. He would value each step, giving one step to his utter sadness for missing his great teacher, and the other step to his great joy of knowing about the greater teacher.
One day, he had stopped in a village along the great river. He went to a bench along the river to sit and further contemplate his wonderfully terrible journey. When he came to the bench, a man was sitting there in deep contemplation as well.
"Good day to you my friend, would you mind if I sit with you by the great river here?"
"Please do, my friend."
"I see you are in deep contemplation. May ask what it is?"
"Yes. I am thinking about a long journey I am on right now. It is very wonderful and yet, very sad as well."
"Yes. I can understand this, for it is my journey as well. I had walked many, many, many days to meet my great teacher. For so many years, he has inspired me and given me such wonderful ideas. There simply is no way for me to fully express my gratitude, but I knew I must try. Even if I could only meet him and let him know in some poor way how much he has meant to the meaning of my life and to the lives of so many in the surrounding country."
"This too is my journey as well. And it is so very sad that I reached the home of my great teacher, only to find he is not there. And what is so very wonderful about the journey is I have learned of an even greater teacher, my teacher's teacher. I can only imagine how wonderful this teacher's teacher is."
"This is my journey too."
At this time, the two teachers had a spark of realization.
"Could it be my friend, you are my teacher?"
"And could it be, that you are mine?"
"Could it be that you have just been on a long journey to my village, while I am on a long journey to yours?"
They both sat silently as the river wooshed by softly. Each at the same time felt a rush of amazement and honor and irony and the release of sorrow for all the sacrifices made over the many years. For they were now in the presense of their great teacher. A tear came to each of their eyes and this was all they needed to know, for they both understood immediately how much gratitude and love they had for each other for all of the boundless inspiration they had given each other over the years. And they laughed loudly at the irony of their lives and how closely intertwined their own fates had always been to each other.
And, it was their last realization that the greater teacher, the teacher's teacher, whom they could only imagine how great they were to provide such divine inspiration to their teacher. They realized that these greater teacher's were in fact themselves. They realized the greater greatness was within themselves. That it was their own ideas that had so greatly inspired each other.
For many, many years after, the two teachers lived together in this village between their two villages. They never spoke to each other, for they had said everything to each other in one tear shed next to the great river.
But, they would sit and write together. With two brushes they each wrote characters together. It was as though they had become one person writing skillfully with two brushes, completing each others characters in peace.
There are those who believe the two teachers are still writing together to this day, for the peace they found in each other is never-ending. Others believe that when they died, they died at the same moment, and in that moment, the spirits of the two teachers came together, returned to their original form, as one spirit. As if the night and the day came together after realizing how each inspired the other to be.