Hermit’s mortality

In one of her colorful travelogues of early twentieth-century Tibet, Alexandra David-Neel tells of a hermit lama who received a bag of money from a benefactor to be used for provisions. The lama’s unscrupulous disciple stabbed his master with a knife and fled with the money. When visited by another disciple days later, the hermit’s wound was festering badly; he had bled a great deal and was weak. The hermit must have been in excruciating pain. But as in so many hermit stories of the east, the hermit insisted that the disciple not summon a physician because then the assailant would be sought and, if found, even be killed. The hermit hoped for time to let the assailant get away. The disciple was obviously concerned about the master’s condition. But the hermit told the disciple to go, adding, “When I meditate, I do not suffer, but when I become conscious of my body, my pain is unbearable.” A short time later, the hermit died of his wound.