The Elder and the Crane: A Moving Story

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Robert Maurer

The Elder and the Crane: A Moving Story

Last update: May 19, 2018

It is said that, a long time ago, a man with long white hair came to a remote village. The elder always carried a crane with him. They formed an odd couple, as these birds are usually not very related to humans. However, the elder and the crane were always together, wherever they went.

The villagers claimed that the man was extremely wise. They said he was famous throughout the region for his great teachings. However, the elder was very humble. He settled near a manger, along with the crane, which always stood still in front of him.

"All animals mistrust man, and they are not completely wrong, but when they are sure that he does not want to harm them, their trust becomes so great that one must be more than barbarian to abuse him."

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau-

People began to get curious. They approached to look at him from a distance, but he didn't even see them. Only the crane seemed to reciprocate attentively. Soon the locals began to bring him food and something to cover themselves, as they saw him very helpless.. The elder and the crane welcomed anyone who helped them.

The elder and the crane are interrogated

One day, when it was already evening, a farmer approached where the old man and the crane rested. She was frightened at the sight of the man and began to flap her wings to wake up the old man who was dozing. He welcomed the visitor and asked him how she could be of use to him.

The farmer sat down in front of the old man and confessed that he had a question to ask him. He had been told he was a very wise man and wanted to know if he could give him this answer. The elder replied, "No one is wise enough to answer everything, but if I can help you, I will."

The farmer told him that he wanted to know how to open the gates of heaven and those of hell. He always wanted to have access to heaven, while he never wanted to go to hell. That's why he wanted to know how his doors opened, to avoid doing it. The elder and the crane remained attentive. When the farmer finished speaking, the elder said, “What a silly question! You can see that you are a truly ignorant man! "

Hearing this, the peasant became angry and tried to hit the old man. The crane got in the way and stopped him. Then the farmer understood that the old man was blind and that the bird was his guide. He felt ashamed for wanting to attack him and his anger dissipated. At that point, he felt only compassion for that helpless old man and asked his forgiveness. The elder then said to him: “Anger has opened the door to hell for you. Compassion is that of heaven ".

Knowing and not knowing ...

The farmer gasped. He realized that he was indeed a very wise teacher. He immediately thanked him for the teaching and then told the whole country what had happened. It began then a long pilgrimage to where the elder and the crane lived. Some wanted answers, while others merely contemplated him and stood beside him. He radiated great peace.

One evening a young man came to where the old man and the crane were. His attitude was mysterious. He approached and, in a low voice, said:

-Maestro, there are people who talk about you wickedly...

-One moment! -Said the old man-. Do you know for sure what you are telling me? Have you heard anyone talk evil about me?

The young man thought for a moment and said:

-No. I haven't heard from it personally. I was told ... This is what they say in the village...

The elder and the crane were silent for a moment. He seemed thoughtful and she, as always, stood by him on the alert to protect him. The wonderful bird was grateful to him because he had freed him from a trap in the woods. Since then, he had become her companion and guide, as the man was blind.

A great lesson

After meditating for a while, the master turned to the young man who had come to tell him what was being said in the village. He asked him:

-Does what you came to tell me benefit me or my friend crane?

The young man, again, paused for a moment to think and then said:

- Actually no. To be honest, quite the opposite. What they told me they heard about her might haunt her, and maybe her friend too - he said, referring to the crane.

The elder and the crane were silent again for a moment. Then the master said:

-I have one last question for you. Do I need to know what they say about me and my crane friend?

-No. Actually no - the young man replied thoughtfully.

-Then go - the old man said-. When you don't know if something is true and doesn't generate any good, there's no need to communicate it, it's not worth talking about.

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