Sasson raised her hand and asked the monk: “If we are all moving forward through samsara, does this mean that we will all eventually achieve Awakening? And if so, what happens then? Does the world explode if there is no one left in it? Where do we all go?” Here’s how Sasson described the monk’s response: “The teacher eyed me carefully, then stood up and did the strangest thing. He barked at me in Tibetan for what seemed to be an eternity, and then stormed out of the room.” The entire class was stunned into a silent embarrassment and then Sasson asked the interpreter: “What did he just say?”
She paused, took a deep breath and replied: “He said, ‘What is wrong with all you Westerners? Why do you always want to know the end of the story?! Are you awakened yet? I don’t think so. So instead of worrying about the end of the story, just work on getting awakened now. You will find out how it works when you get there!’” Then the elderly monk stormed out of the lecture to reinforce how important it was to understand that not every question can be answered; that sometimes we have to focus on the task before us and not what is in the distant future.
Here’s how Vanessa Ssson interprets her experience with that elderly monk: “At the time, I didn’t know what to do with the experience. I mulled it over, thought about it repeatedly, felt bad about it often, but most of the time I just wondered. But years later, I have come to love his reply. I now realize that this monk, whose name I do not remember, whose story I know nothing about, smashed a vajra sword over my head with that reply. He told me to abandon my quest for a logical explanation where mythical narratives are concerned; to stop worrying about how it all works and instead focus on the important stuff. The point is to attain Awakening, not to figure out the system. Because cosmic mechanics are not the point.”