An old monk lived in a Taoist temple, lost in the mountains. Every year, he used to visit his fellow believers in another temple hung to the side of a rock sinking like an arrow into a vast plain. Only a rocky path strewn with thorny bushes allowed him to get there.
The old monk's advanced age worried the Master of the place. One year he decided to appoint a strong young monk to accompany him throughout his journey. The Master summoned the young monk, asked him to accompany the old monk and warned him that his presence would not be welcome. He had to be as discreet as possible and follow him as “a silent shadow”.
With his stick as only support and his bundle as only viaticum, the old monk greeted the Master and set off without even looking at the young acolyte. Equipped with the same attributes, the young monk did his best to put his steps into those of the old man. The path was going up and the slope already promised to be steep. Shortly afterwards, the stones began to roll under the young monk's feet, the brambles scratched his hands, but no complaints came out of his mouth. The following descent was not much easier; the sandals slipped over the stones, while one hand was grabbing what it could grasp and the other holding the stick firmly on the ground in order not to fall down the slope. Other climbs and descents followed one another and our young monk soon wondered when this abominable adventure would end.
After having covered many “li”, the silent young monk made a pause. Being short of breath, having sore feet and bloody hands, he thought his last hour was coming. Looking up at his companion in misfortune, he saw him slowing down, reaching the ridge step by step and contemplate a landscape that seemed familiar to him. The young monk regained hope and walked up as fast as he could the last steps of his ordeal. When he reached the old monk, he was invaded by a wave that glued him to the spot. The setting sun flooded the plain with reddish light reinforced by the first glimmers of a twilight sky. The reflection of this same light on the walls of the temple on the mountainside haloed the surrounding air with the same tones. Dazzled by the show, he could not help but exclaim: “How beautiful!” Then the old monk suddenly turned around, seized the young man by the collar and shook him, screaming: “You dumb idiot, can't you shut up! I'm not blind…”