A Parable to ponder….

A Hermit who used to live on a mountain since many years, in the middle of a forest, decided that time had come for him to go down the valley and venture in the world once again.

When he reached the valley, he met two rivers running in opposite directions, linked by a very narrow white path, which was too difficult to go along.

He stopped, willing to try and cross the two rivers, but he realised that one of them was so swollen and impetuous running northward that the path was flooded with its water. In that tumultous water the Hermit could see the outbursting and never ending greed of mankind that was carelessly overwhelming the white path, that is, the virtues and the good dwelling inside of mankind.

He then realised that the other river running southward was made of fire, and its flames were reaching the narrow white path. The Hermit knew that the river’s flames were the passions and the anger of mankind that wanted to overwhelm the virtues as well.

Stopping in front of the two rivers of water and fire, the Hermit had to face again mankind’s great dilemma, that is whether to nourish anger, passions and greed, or else cultivate goodness through good actions and positive thinking.

Now he felt ready to face the anger and the passions that he used to know and freed himself of, and he also felt ready not to let greed seduce him, as he already knew its torments. But being in front of those two rivers of water and fire, and with no another way out to reach the world but by crossing the white path in between those two rivers, he sat down to ponder.

Deep within his heart, he would have liked to go back to the mountain, in the middle of that forest where he peacefully passed his last years. But he knew that time had come, and he now had to go back to the world where he used to come from, and where he still had a task to accomplish, that is, to spread the knowledge acquired by him during those years as a Hermit, for the use of mankind.

He stood up, ready to walk along the white path, with no care of the water that could have swallowed him, and of the flames, that could have burned him.

He turned to say farewell to the mountain that welcomed him and to his friend Nature, thanking Her for the lessons of courage and nobility that now he was putting into practice.

The Hermit reached the world without being burned by passions and anger, and without being wetted by greed, thus being able to accomplish his life project.

Freely taken from Shan Tao’s Parable of the Two Rivers and the White Path

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