Tales : Sharing the Fruits

There was, once upon a time, a man who had adopted a most regrettable way of life. With a wife and children and aged parents to support, he had become a robber, and would prowl through the remote region of the jungle where they lived, falling violently upon any travellers that came along. Those who were able to give the robber something of value were allowed to continue on their way, but if a traveller resisted or had nothing to offer, the robber would slaughter the poor unfortunate and leave the body where it fell, as a warning to others.

One day it happened that the robber discovered a solitary sage journeying through the forest, and leapt in front of him, brandishing a large knife. “Hand over your wealth, or prepare to die!” the robber shouted.

The sage stopped, and opened his arms wide, showing that he had nothing but a cloth wrapped around him, and a staff. “My wealth,” he said, “is that I have nothing except understanding. I will share that with you, but I doubt you have the strength to carry it.”

“What do you mean?” the robber snarled. “I am strong! I can bear anything your skinny body can carry. What do you understand?”

The sage replied, “I understand three things. The first thing that I understand is that you have stolen from many people, and have often killed, all in order to support your family.”

“Yes,” the robber, proudly, “you are right. I support my parents and my wife and children this way. And they know very well how I make my living. What is the second thing you understand?”

“The second thing I understand,” said the sage, “is that for all the cruelty you have shown, you are certain to face the fires of hell when you die.”

“I gave up hope for my soul long ago,” the robber said grimly. “What is the third thing you understand? If it is of no more value than the first two, I shall take your life for wasting my time.”

“To receive the third thing I understand, you must first take me to your home. It is necessary to meet your family.”

The robber was reluctant to lead a stranger to his home, but thinking it would be easy to afterward kill the sage and thus prevent him from disclosing its location, he finally agreed.

When they came to the robber’s hut, and the family gathered around them, the sage said to the robber, “Now here is the third thing that I understand. You steal and kill, and your family live by the fruits of your actions. But none of them will be willing to accompany you to the eternal fires of hell and burn with you when you die. If you doubt this, simply ask them, ‘Will you throw yourself into the fire with me?'”

Startled, the robber now asked his family one by one if they would agree to come to hell with him, but all of them, wife, parents, and every single child, flatly refused. When he saw that though they accepted the gains of his wickedness they would not share his burden, tears ran down the robber’s face, and he threw his knife far into the forest.

“Did I not warn you that it takes strength to bear what I understand?” the sage said. And from that day forward, the robber renounced his evil behaviour and sought to change his life under the guidance of the sage.

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