Once upon a time a man came to a balloonist and said, “I have studied all my life, acquiring knowledge, but I realise that I have neglected the world above us. Can you take me to the higher spheres?”
“Certainly,” replied the balloonist. “That is why I am here. My balloon can lift you to unguessed heights, and give you a completely new view of life.”
“That is what I long for,” said the man. “When can we begin?”
“Come tomorrow morning,” said the balloonist. “The tranquillity prepares one for freedom, and the sunrise is very inspiring. You will see the world in a different way.”
The next morning the man arrived as the sun was appearing over the horizon, bringing with him a cartload of strange items.
“What is all this?” asked the balloonist.
“Things I require for my journey,” the man replied. “A comfortable chair, warm clothing and a modest quality of food and water, Three bottles of wine. A telescope, for obvious reasons. And reference books – an atlas of the earth, an atlas of the stars, a study of bird psychology, a book on the philosophy of clouds, and a twelve volume illustrated encyclopaedia of angels.”
The balloonist attempted to dissuade the man from piling all this in the basket of the balloon, but the man insisted. “You clearly don’t have the heart and spirit of an explorer,`’ said the man. “I intend to go prepared for all eventualities.”
When the man sat in the basket with all his belongings, the balloonist cast off the rope, but the heavily laden balloon only rose a few inches. After a time, it sank back down to the earth and there it remained.
Later, If the subject of the higher spheres came up in conversation, the man would assert, “It is all fairy tales. I have been there, and it is not at all as they describe. Do not waste your time on such things.”