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mindLook After Your Mind No. 16

A hermit named Ryokan had a hut on the hillside. It was a meagre dwelling and it contained very few possessions. Outside Ryokan had cultivated a patch to grow fruit and vegetables. He foraged in the woods where he collected berries, nuts and flowers to sell at the market.

Pleased that he had managed to trade all of his produce for some eggs and fish, he stayed talking with people at the market. Just before leaving he exchanged some friendly words with the sandal maker, who offered to mend Ryokan’s battered sandals for nothing.

I can see that you struggle for money,” the sandal maker said, “so allow me to do you this favour.” Ryokan politely declined. “That is kind, but let me tell you that actually I am much richer than I look. My world is full of beautiful treasures.

A man passing by heard Ryokan’s words and was overwhelmed with greed, for he was a thief who stole whatever took his fancy, no matter what hurt it caused. He found out where Ryokan lived and ran on ahead until he came to Ryokan’s hut. He sneaked in and began rummaging about amongst the hermit’s belongings.
Soon afterwards Ryokan walked home in the twilight. Along the way he watched the sun go down and, minutes later, saw a huge full moon rise above the eastern mountains. Ryokan thought this was one of the loveliest things he had ever seen.

Meanwhile, the thief could not believe that whoever lived here got by with so little. He searched and searched but found nothing of value. At last he snatched up a cooking pot and ran from the hut…

Ryokan saw him and knew the thief for what he was. “Wait! Wait!” he called, but the man had vanished among the trees.

Ryoken shrugged and sighed. He looked towards the mountains and above them, where the moon was hanging like a silver ball in the darkening sky. ‘What a shame,’ Ryokan thought, ‘that poor man wouldn’t let me give him the treasure of this moonlight.’  

Click here to read more articles in the series 'Look After Your Mind' by Steve Bowkett

Steve Bowkett.
Issue 412
May 2019


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