A man once set out to visit a great sage. When he arrived, he asked where to find the man and was shown to a decrepit shack at the edge of town.
Inside, there was nothing but a broken-down bed and a table full of books, where an old man was studying.
The traveler was shaken. “Where does the sage live?” he asked the old man.
“It is I to whom you refer,” said the old man. “What is disturbing you so?”
“I don’t understand. You are a great sage, with many disciples. Your name is known across the country. It doesn’t seem fitting that you should be living in a room like this. You should be living in a palace.”
“And where do you live?” the old man asked. “I live in a mansion, a grand home with magnificent furnishings.”
“And how do you make a living?” The man explained that he was a businessman, traveling twice a year to a large city to buy materials that he brought back and sold to local merchants. The sage, listening attentively, asked him where he stayed when he was in the city.
“I stay in a small room in a small inn,” he answered.
“If someone were to walk into that small room, might they not say, ‘Why are you, a wealthy businessman, living in such a room?’ And you might say, ‘I am only on the road for a short time, so this is all I need. Come to my real home, and you will see that it is entirely different.’”
“My friend, the same is true here,” the old man continued. “I am also only on the road. This material world is just a road. In my home, too, it is very different. Come to my spiritual home, and you will see that I live in a palace.”
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