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Drops of Oil

May 20, 2008
May 20, 2008 

A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for forty days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived.

Rather than finding a saintly man though, our young lad, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world. The wise man listened attentively to the boys explanation of why he had come, but told him that he didnt have just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in two hours. Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something, said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. As you wander around, carry this spoon without allowing the oil to spill.

The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the castle, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was. Well, said the wise man, did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in the dining hall? Did you see the garden that took the master gardener 10 years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?

The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him. Then go back and observe the marvels of my world, said the wise man. Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens and the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen. But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you, asked the wise man. Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone. Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you, said the wisest of wise men. The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.


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