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  • Writer's pictureAbe Cherian

The Monk and the Butterfly

High in the Himalayan mountains lived a wise old man.

Periodically, he ventured down into the local village to entertain the villagers with his special knowledge and talents. One of his skills was to psychically tell the villagers the contents in their pockets, boxes, or minds.

A boy from the village decided to play a joke on the wise old man and discredit his special abilities.

The young man came up with an elaborate plan to capture a butterfly and hide it in his hands.

He knew that the monk would know what he was holding. But the boy planned to then ask the old man if the butterfly was dead or alive. If the wise man said the butterfly was alive, the boy would crush it in his hands, so that when he opened his hands the butterfly would be dead.

But, If the wise man said the butterfly was dead, the boy would open his hands and let it fly free.

No matter what the old man said, the boy would prove the old man a fraud.

The following week the monk came down the mountain into the village and along the way, villagers lined up to ask him their most difficult questions.

The boy showed up and asked, “Sir, if indeed you are as wise and talented as everyone believes you are, please tell me whether the butterfly in my hand is dead or alive.”

For a moment it appeared as if the monk was at a loss for words. The student thought he had cornered the wise old monk.

After a pause, the monk looked straight at the boy, and then down at his closed hand. He slowly shook his head from side to side.

“Son,” he said, “whether the butterfly is dead or alive, is entirely in your hands. It’s yours to choose.”

Your life is in our own hands, just like the butterfly. What will you do with it?

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