The Monk & the General

The Monk & the General

This is a story, one of my teachers used to tell. I wrote it down in my own words because I could not remember the exact details, but the last dialogue remains the same. I didn’t change it.

💗Once upon a time, in an ancient and far away land, there was a civil war.
It was a very dark time, the cruelty of the invading armies and their horrible actions towards the holy men and the people of the land was the stuff of legend.
The fear was holding people’s heart tight and it run so deep that no one dared to talk about the soldiers and their actions.
The soldiers were ruthless; they would storm through villages and towns to take control, stealing any valuables they could find, and killing anyone on their path who would try to oppose or fight them.

To make their will know, and mainly as a demonstration of their political power, the armies of soldiers were especially harsh with the holy men and monks. They knew of the powers they possessed, the great influence they had over the minds and hearts of the people.

The high-ranking officials gave strict instructions to humiliate and torture the holy men publicly, executing them on the squares of towns and villages, as a show, so everybody could see. The people were forced to watch so that they knew who the new powers were.

One fateful day, during a raid, special factions of armies were dispatched to a well-known village. The soldiers were given precise instructions, to hunt the highest-ranking members among the monks, in an ancient and sacred temple. They were instructed to bring the high-ranking monks before the army officials, alive, and to kill and torture the rest of the monks.

After the unnecessary cruelty and bloodshed, the soldiers returned with the captured holy men, except one.

The army’s General was informed of this monk. He was one of the highest-ranking monks in the temple and he had refused to follow the soldiers.

The General was furious. He could not understand why a simple man could refuse to follow orders, even under threat to his life and his brothers’.
The soldier in charge explained that even under threat, the monk would not move: “We tortured and murdered numerous lower ranks in front of him… All the others were captured, yet he remained still…”
The soldier explained that they did not want to harm him, because they knew the general would want to deal with such a dissident in person.

The General thought on this for a while. He was furious as in all his years as an enforcer, he had never encountered a man like this one: “How dare he!” He shouted, “The audacity!”
And so, he decided to meet this monk face to face and rode off to the monastery.

On his horse, he passed through the gates of the temple. And then suddenly, in front of him, he saw the monk.
He was a small man, standing still, face to the sun, sitting on the ground, his arms clasped behind his back and with an incredibly peaceful face.

The General dismounted and walked towards him, with the security of a man that knows he owns the world.

When he was closer to the monk, the general unsheathed his sword, pushing the tip of the shining blade into the navel’s monk.

For the first time, the monk made eye contact, looking down from the sky and into the face of the soldier.

The general looked into the monk’s eye and shouted: “Don’t you know who I am, monk? I could take this sword and run it through your belly without blinking an eye.”

The monk remained still and peaceful, his expression unchanged and looking at the general in the eye, he replied: “And don’t you know who I am? I could have your sword run through my belly without blinking an eye.”


I don’t really know what happened to the monk and the general, but I want to believe that the general after witnesses such peace, strength and courage, he would have bowed to the monk and become his disciple….

My question to you is this, today: “Are human beings able to open their heart and feel peace and compassion in hell?”

Blessings and Love, Always

Michela xo

( Art by Demetrio Venturini:
& )

© Michela Sborchia ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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