Once upon a time there lived a wise man, considered the most intelligent, maybe, in the
entire world. He knew all languages. It suffices to say that he was a wise man recognized by the
entire world. And he travelled.
One time, as he disembarked a ship, he saw a man sitting and drawing something on sand
using a stick. The sage approached that man, looked closer but couldn’t understand what the man
was writing or drawing. And the sage said: "Pardon me, but I am curious - what are you doing?"
The man replies:
- Aren't you this man?
- Yes. Do you know me?
- But how did you know?
- If you want to know what I do and what I am writing... I am going to the same place as you.
You can come with me, and eventually you will see everything yourself.
And so the two men walked together. Suddenly darkness fell. They see a nice big house, so
they knock on the door, and they are let in. They were received with great hospitality. They
walk along the hallways and find a lot of precious objects, such as a golden vase standing on a
golden tray, a painting in a golden frame, etc. Wealth is felt everywhere. The host was gracious
and hospitable. The travelers enjoyed a delicious supper, got comfortable beds in a nice room,
bathed. They fell asleep. At dawn they got their stuff together, and the host says: "If you like,
stay longer." The sage wanted to stay, but the other traveler said: "No, thank you, we are in a
hurry." And they both left.
They walked a few steps, and the wise man feels that the other holds something under
his shirt. So he asked: "What are you carrying there?" The other opened the shirt and retrieved
a golden vase. Sage asked: "Why did you steal that vase?" "You will understand later," was the reply.
overnight. They notice a house: not as great, but not bad either - average house. There was
nothing around it anyway. They knocked. They were let in, but the host was inhospitable. They
were shown directly to their room. The travelers smelled some very delicious food. The wise
man became excited that now they will enjoy a wonderful meal. Yet, the host ate alone, and
the travelers received only the leftovers. They were hungry, so they had to contend with the
leftovers. Then the host told his servant to show them to a barn for lodging. The two men stayed
overnight in the barn. In the morning they got up, but for breakfast they received only a slice of
bread and a glass of water. As they were leaving, the man who previously stole a golden vase
gave it to the host and said: "Thank you kindly for your hospitality." And the two men left.
The wise man was perplexed. "Why did you give him the vase?!?", he said. The other
man replied: "You will understand later."
They walked on. Another nightfall. They see some house, knock. A man opened the
door; no servants, nothing. He is alone, by himself. His beard is uncombed. It turned out that he
is an alchemist. He tries to turn iron into gold. He has been staging experiments for his entire
life, but nothing worked out. He welcomed the travelers as equals, and he said: "I want to give
you a treat, but all I have are garlic and bread. Water is in abundance."
They took the bread, spread garlic over it and ate it. This was followed by a glass
of water. They slept overnight. The man who has been doing all the work so far tells the
sage: "Let's rise early". They got up early. The "active" man lit a match and set the alchemist’s
house on fire. The wise man was getting out of his mind this time and said: "This alchemist
welcomed us the way he could. Why did you set his house on fire?!?" “You will understand
later”, was the reply.
Then they came to a city. They knocked on a door, and it turned out that they entered
a house of a widow. The widow had a 12-year-old son. She welcomed them heartily. In the
morning she catered a good meal for them and bid them farewell. And sage’s companion asked
the widow for directions to the place they wanted to reach, and he named a city. She started
explaining the directions. The sage’s companion said that they, foreigners, didn’t quite know
their way around in this area, and he asked whether widow’s son could should the way. She gave
her consent and told her son: “Go show them the way.”
They walked on and reached a river. River was wide, fast and wild. They saw a sturdy
bridge across the river. The boy says: “Just cross this bridge, and you will easily find out the rest
of your directions.” Sage’s companion asks the boy: “Perhaps, you could walk us to the end of
the bridge?” The boy agreed. When the travelers approached the middle of the bridge, sage’s
companion grabbed the boy and threw him into the river.
The wise man was going insane. “I, the wise man, know everything. But you do
outrageous things. I can’t fathom them.”
His companion replies: “There is nothing to understand. Our first host was a very
wealthy man. So wealthy, in fact, that he doesn’t cherish his abudance, and such behavior could
lead him to poverty. Therefore, I stole a golden vase to show him that someone might take some
of his riches. If theft happens a couple of times on a greater scale, then he might become
impoverished. Yet, currently, he brags about his riches. Such behavior dooms him to eventual
Sage says: “Fine, I understand now. But how about that second host who was
inhospitable, yet you gave him a golden vase as a present?”
Sage’s companion continued: “I gave him that vase, because his initial judgement of us
was that we are dressed poorly and therefore we can’t offer much in return. By giving him the
vase, I illustrated that one should judge people by their intelligence rather than their outfits. And
he will understand this eventually.”
Sage responded: “Fine, I can understand this, too. And how about that alchemist, who has
been trying to turn iron into gold all his life? Why did you set his house on fire? After all, he
shared the last scraps of food with us.”
His companion replied: “That alchemist has been trying to do something that is
unrealistic. How to turn iron into gold? And to relieve him from perpetual suffering, I did a good
deed for him: set his house on fire. When the house burns down, he will discover a bulky golden
chest full of gold and diamonds. After this discovery he will live comfortably, and he will
abandon his initial idea.”
Sage reasoned: “All right. With your explanation, I begin to understand this as well. But
what about the poor widow?!? She was so welcoming to us, so hospitable. Why did you throw
into the river her only child?”
His companion said: “Her child was 12 years old. When he would have turned 16, he
would have killed you.”
The sage was perplexed: “Who are you that you decide everything by yourself?”
Sage’s companion shrugged off his clothes and flew away. He turned out to be an angel…
We need to be ready, so that when the time comes to meet the angel, we would be able to
recognize him. That wise man, however, knew everything yet couldn’t recognize him. The same
happens in our lives. You need to take into account even the details of how he greeted and bid
farewell to various hosts. Life is very complicated if one doesn’t learn that which he needs to