A noble warrior went to the Zen temple seeking peace. Upon finding the master in calm meditation, the warrior was overcome with sadness. Though he knew he had fought bravely and justly his entire life, he feared that he would never possess the grace of the man before him.
“Why do I feel so inferior?” asked the warrior. “I know I have fought with honor, defended the weak, and I have nothing to be ashamed of. Yet seeing you just now, I felt my life had no significance whatsoever.”
“Wait a while,” said the master, smiling. “I will speak with you after I attend to the other visitors.”
The warrior sat beneath a garden tree as visitors streamed through the temple, each one leaving the gentle master with expressions of warmth in their faces. The warrior grew even sadder.
As night fell and the visitors dwindled, the warrior became distressed and asked the master, “Can you teach me now?”
The master nodded and they walked to the rear study, where the moon shone through a giant window, washing everything in pale white light.
“Do you see the moon, how beautiful it is?” said the master. “It will cross the sky, and make way for the sun. The sun is much brighter, and stronger, and can illuminate clouds and mountains and trees in ways that the moon cannot. Yet… I have never heard the moon complain ‘Why don’t I shine like the sun, is it because I am inferior?’”
“Of course not,” said the warrior. “The sun and the moon are different, each has its own beauty. You cannot compare the two.”
“So you know your answer. We are two different people, each fighting in his own way for that which he believes, and making it possible to make the world a better place; the rest are mere appearances.”