The Parable of the Bricks

patch parables video Dec 07, 2020

A young student approached his guru one day and said: "Master, you have spoken so much about karma, but I do not yet understand it. How can I truly learn?"

The guru smiled and gestured for the student to follow. The two walked silently to the edge of the village where workers were busily engaged in making bricks for a house...The two stood and watched the brickmakers' activity for some time, and the guru asked: "Now do you understand karma?"

"No, Master," the student replied. The guru paused and slowly nodded his head. He cleared his throat. "What are the workers doing?" 

"Making bricks," the student responded.. "Very good. And what happens to the bricks once they are made?" Said the Guru

"They are put in a stack," the student said. “And then,”? The guru asked. “Well..they are used to build a house!” The student responded, getting more agitated because he could not see what a single brick had to do with karma. The exchange continued, elaborating on every step of how and where the bricks were made until finally, the guru sighed and turned to his student.

He leaned over and picked up a freshly made brick and handed it to the youth. "Here. Carry this brick with you everywhere you go. Please do not put it down under any circumstances. Do you understand?” “Yes,” said the student. “Good. Return to me with this same brick in a year,” exclaimed the guru.

A year later to the day, the student returned, brick in hand, to the guru. The youth was barely able to contain their frustration. "Master, I have done exactly as you told me. I have carried this brick with me everywhere, and it has been nothing more than aggravation and a nuisance and several other things I will not mention in your Holy Presence. And I have learned nothing at all about karma!"

The guru chuckled... "Did you at any time set the brick down?" he asked.

"No, Master. I carried it everywhere," the student exclaimed

The guru smiled. "Ah. . . . Now do you understand karma?"

Basic Philosophy of Karma

Karma is one of those things in the West that is seldom understood truly, as it has been passed down to us through translation after translation. While the basic understanding states that whatever we do will eventually return to us, the basic philosophy is deeper rooted. This parable speaks to the burdens and choices we carry with us and how they can affect us later if we don’t take time to work through them. Just as a tiny brick is used to make the foundation of a house, even the smallest and most seemingly insignificant event or act can significantly affect our future and lives if we aren’t aware. Perhaps this parable even speaks to the cyclical nature of the universe. Maybe there’s an echo here of the whole “holding onto to a glass” idea, where initially a glass of water is easy to pick up, but the longer you hold onto it, the heavier it becomes. Perhaps, even the smallest of choices we make can be carried with us.

Now, the student could have put the brick down at any time, but they remained true to their word and learned the lesson the guru was teaching. While Karma is often presented as something we carry over between lifetimes, perhaps the silver lining here is that maybe...clearing our karmic baggage is as easy as choosing to let go of the brick. And by letting go, we become part of a new cycle.


This video was created by Team Spirit Connect with the team at

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