In the upper Himalayas, an ancient Tibetan monastery follows a secret Zen tradition. Newly ordained monks perform their daily rituals of chanting, meditation, cooking and cleaning and in the evening paint colorful patterns on the floor (Rangoli in India) using dry powder paint.
Initially they draw basic patterns and then graduate to complex designs. In the second year of their stay, they are inducted into a very sacred ritual. The Master priest gives each monk an extremely intricate and complicated design to replicate as their Rangoli. This pattern is so complex that it takes 5 years of part time work in the evening to complete. The monks are made to vow to keep their pattern secret and not show their work in progress to anyone. Their reward for this mammoth effort is to have their complete painting examined by the head Sensei (Priest) of the monastery. If the divine Sensei is pleased, he can bless the monk.
After 5 long years of working on one painting, the examination day arrives and the monks tremble with trepidation as they take their master and Sensei to their room for the final review. The Sensei wears heavy robes, with the long overflowing sleeves that reach the ground. Just as the painting is being shown, the Sensei calls out to the monk, looks him in the eye, and in one strong, swift motion, wipes clean the painting with his robe’s sleeves without even looking at it. The act is sudden, swift and brutal – executed with a benevolent smile.
It is said that the act of seeing 5 years of your hard labor being wiped out in a stroke creates a moment of ‘blankness’ in the minds of the well-trained monks, and that blankness produces nirvana (enlightenment). If not immediately ‘enlightened’, the monks begin weeping with joy at the realization that nothing lasts forever and everything must go.
Losing something very precious makes them gain something even more valuable.
If you have lost something - however painful that experience might have been, you will benefit in the long run.