Searching for What is Already Found

“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

John 12:15 

Dear members and friends, 

The oldest epic story written is the story of King Gilgamesh. In the story, Gilgamesh desires and seeks immortality. He journeys through the Land of Night and the Waters of Death to meet his ancestor Utnapishtim and is granted immortality after surviving the great flood. However, Gilgamesh fatefully fails to obtain physical immortality, but obtains mythic immortality with the written word about him. This gives us a lesson that physical immortality is not possible. 

Something similar to the story of Gilgamesh happened in many Asian countries where Buddhism was popular. Many young men would abandon their family, their duty, and their life in pursuit of enlightenment, which was believed to be an entry point to obtain Divinity. This might have caused a great degree of social problems at times. Thus, there is this story in Zen Speaks: 

Once, a young man left his aging mother to study under a famous Bodhisattva. On the way, he stopped by a diner and sat next to an old monk. The monk asked, “Where are you going, young man?” “I am going to study under a famous Bodhisattva,” replied the young man. “Instead of looking for a mere Bodhisattva,” said the old monk, “you’d be better off looking for the Buddha.” “Do you know where I can find the Buddha?” the young man asked. “When you return home,” the old monk said, “a person wearing a blanket and with shoes on the wrong feet will come to greet you. That person is the Buddha.” Upon hearing this, the young man hurried back home, arriving late at night. Hearing the return of her son and rushing out to greet him, his mother threw on a blanket and accidentally put her slippers on the wrong feet. The young man took one good look at his mother and was suddenly enlightened. 

What connects these two stories is that both men pursued something that was already available to them, but they were pursuing it in the wrong way. Similarly, the people at the time of Jesus expected Jesus to be the king of their physical realm. However, Jesus is the king of the spiritual realm, which is already present within us and can be actualized by means of embodying love.  

My brothers and sisters in God, Jesus claimed the kingship, not of this materialistic world, but of heaven. Let us take a moment of deep reflection on what this teaching truly means to us.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee