Meditation & Health #24 Contents




Filling a Room, Filling the Heart


Translation by Dan Chi
Illustration by Sylvia


An elderly meditation master was looking for an heir among his three most promising disciples, to which he would pass his dharma robe and alms bowl. One night, he gathered the three of them in an empty room. The master gave each a small sum of money to buy something that could fill the barren room.

It was a challenging task. The disciples wondered how it would be possible to buy in sufficient quantity to fill the room given they only had a meager amount of money. The next day they set off for the nearest town. Upon arriving, they split up.

The first disciple, after careful consideration, bought cotton batting. The second disciple bought hay. The first and second disciples were astonished when the third disciple came back at sunset without any large items. Indeed, it seemed he’d bought nothing.

The master then instructed them to take turns filling the room. With the amount of cotton batting he’d bought, the first disciple could only fill half the room. As for the second disciple, all his hay was not enough to fill up the room.

When it was the third disciple’s turn, he closed all the doors and windows before taking out a candle and a matchstick. The moment the candle was lit, the darkness in the room was dispelled. Every corner of the room was illuminated by the flame. Upon seeing this, the master nodded his head in approval and handed his dharma robe and alms bowl to his third disciple.



Material possessions can only temporarily satisfy our empty hearts. The warmth of the sunshine and the refreshing air fill the world. Lighting people’s hearts with loving-kindness and compassion is what truly fills us, brightening the world with peace and harmony.


Meditation & Health #24 Contents