The Room of 1000 Demons – Lessons From a Tibetan Monk on Controlling Anxiety and Fear

In Tibetan monasteries every five years the ‘Room of 1000 Demons’ is made available to the monks in training. In order to gain enlightenment (nirvana), all they have to do is to walk into the room and out the other side. However, once in the room, the entrance door cannot be opened from the inside and they have to walk across the room and leave it by the exit door.

The problem is that inside the room are 1000 demons, each of whom know what your worse fear is. For example, if you hate spiders, once in the room you’ll find yourself among 1000 of the worst kind of spiders imaginable.

Once this is explained to them, most of the monks decide not to go through this process. They are bid farewell by the elders and advised to go back to the monastery to study some more and in another five years they will have the opportunity to go through the room.

To the monks who are left, and admittedly it is a small number, the elders congratulate them for their courage and are taken to one side. The chief monk advises them as follows:

“You know that to achieve everything you have studied and meditated for you must go through the Room of 1000 Demons. You have been told why the room is so called. I congratulate you for your courage and suggest that you keep two things in mind once the door closes behind you in the room:

(1) None of the demons are real,

and,

(2) Keep moving your feet.”