Tuesday, 12 January 2016
However, unbeknown to everyone else, this very learned man struggled with a question which troubled his mind for many years. Try as he might, he could not resolve his problem. He searched in many theological books, and books written by philosophers and other great people of the time, and yet he could not find the solution to what irked him. Obviously, he did not want to discuss this with anyone for fear they might think less of him, and ruin his reputation as a man of great knowledge. He was after all the all-knowing sage of his town and district. He could hardly be seen seeking advice from anyone.
Far far away, on a remote mountain beyond the forest, lived a hermit in a cave away from society and civilisation. No one had actually seen the hermit, but word had got round that he existed and lived alone undisturbed by modern society of the day. Many thought the story to be a myth but they believed it all the same because they wanted something to believe in.
The wise theologian decided to visit the hermit on the mountain in secret in hope that he could help him solve his problem. He left his town early one morning and told no one where he was going. He travelled for weeks on foot through the forest and up the montain until one day he found the cave where the old hermit is supposed to live. He approached with trepidation and was somewhat relieved to find a man sitting there on a rock wearing very little and eating berries he had gathered from nearby bushes.
The philosopher greeted the hermit and explained that he had a problem on his mind which he had wrestled with for many years. The hermit nodded and encouraged him to continue.
The philosopher drew from his pocket three identical spoons; all the same size and made exactly the same. One spoon was made of gold, the other made of silver and the last was made of wood. He explained that the spoons were given to him by his grand-father years ago who told him that therein lies the mystery of life.
The philosopher said: "I don't understand the mystery of life. I can see that one spoon is more valuable than the other because of what it is made. So I think the gold one is the most valuable. Then the silver one and then the wooden one. Is that the mystery of life which my grand-father taught me? The value of something?"
The hermit asked the philosopher to close his eyes. The philosopher did so.
The hermit then hit him hard on the forehead with one of the spoons. The philosopher was startled and opened his eyes rubbing his forehead in pain.
"Which spoon did I hit you with?" asked the hermit.
"I don't ****** well know," replied the philosopher, "but it really hurt!"
"Exactly," said the hermit. "This is the mystery of life. We all have the potential to do harm in life. Regardless whether we are very rich and have great value, or whether we are poor and valueless as this wooden spoon. And also, we all have the potential to do good. Some more so than others. Which is what these spoons were made for. To help us eat our soup, regardless whether they are made of gold, silver or wood.
"So, as a theologian, you should know that, regardless of your religion, or what you believe or think you believe, God has put you on this earth to do good not bad.
"Have you understood the mystery, or do I need to hit you again?"
The philosopher got down the mountain much wiser that when he climbed up to see the hermit.