“The Monks and the Giant Boulder” a classic Buddhist parable from Jack Kornfield

The Monks and the Boulder

An old monk and his two disciples were walking through a field when they came across a giant boulder.

The old monk asked the two disciples, “Is this boulder heavy?”

“What?” They replied, not sure if the monk was serious.

Again he asked, “Is this boulder heavy?”

The two monks looked at each other then looked back at the old monk and said, “Yeah. It’s very, very heavy.”

The old monk smiled and replied, “Only if you pick it up.”


Trained as Buddhist monk, Jack Kornfield is known in the West as an author and teacher of Vipassana meditation. The above story is a variation that his mentor Ajahn Chah shared with him one day as they walked across a field. For me, the takeaway is about having the wisdom to identify and choose the burdens we carry.

Jack Kornfield, 1945–

“The Monks and the Giant Boulder”
This parable is in the public domain

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

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