The Wise Man

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The Wise Man.

There once was a man, of whom many said he was wise.  However, he himself never claimed to be wise. Each day, people would queue up outside of his front door, just waiting for him to pop his head out.
“Here he is! Say something wise…” they would say.
“Go away! I’m not wise, I just want to be left alone!”
“Why is it you say this?”
“Because you pester me with requests for wisdom when I have no word for you!”
“So why do they call you wise?”
“Ask them, for I am a fool! A fool, I tell you!”
Then the man would retire to his hut. Eventually the people left him alone and he was not pestered at his door. However, when he left the hut, people began to mutter and whisper about him. Slowly, they would follow him and then ask, “Do you have a word for us, O wise man?”
“No! Go away! I’m not wise, I’m a fool I tell you.”
“So why do they call you wise?”
“I don’t know! Ask them.”
And each time he ventured out, the same happened, until one day, a child was present as the man was accosted for wisdom and the child said, “Who are they?”
“Whoever said that I am wise!”
“Who said you are wise?”
“Them!”
“But who are they?”
“I don’t know, but people keep saying that I’m wise and I get pestered for wisdom.”
“Well why don’t you share something with them?”
“I have nothing to share! I am just an ordinary man.”
The child thought for a while then said, “Why don’t you say something to these people? Just say something, anything.”
Under the child’s advisement, the man decided to give it a go. So the next time he left his hut, as people started following him, he turned, paused a while then said, “Be kind to those who encourage you, for they see you better than you see yourself in the mirror.”
Quietly, each thought about it. The man moved on, leaving the small group. Some of the people understood the message and spread it around immediately, whereas others took a while to understand, needing to discuss it to get the meaning. Then there were others, who just did not understand and left feeling disappointed.
Over the next few days, not so many people waited for the man to leave his hut, but the odd one or two approached him with questions like, “What is the mirror? Is it a real one or a metaphor?” Others asked, “Who encouraged you?” and “How did you reach this understanding?” And the wise man entertained their questions. Then, one day the child happened upon the man once more.
“Thankyou, I did as you said and now the people don’t bother me anymore.”
“Good,” said the child. “I’m glad you are happy. But tell me, why would you not speak to them before?”
“Well,” began the wise man, “At first I couldn’t be bothered with them, as I didn’t have anything to say. Then someone became bothered to hear me, so I had something to say.”
Then the wise man went to the seat in the park, where people came to join him and discussed the wisdom he found.

Sougen.

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