A LESSON FROM A SNAKE (THE VALUE OF GOODNESS)
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thief who robs the king! I've caught the thief who robs the king!"
Suddenly a crowd of people came running in, yelling, "Aha! Youpretended to be better than us! An example of goodness!" Theyslapped him, tied his hands behind his back, and hauled him off tothe king.
But on their way, they happened to go by some snake charmers.They were entertaining some bystanders from the king's court with apoisonous cobra. They held him by the tail and neck, and coiled himaround their necks to show how brave they were.
The tied up prisoner said to them, "Please be careful! Don't grab thatcobra by the tail. Don't grab him by his neck. And don't coil thatpoisonous snake around your own necks. He may bite you and bringyour lives to a sudden end!"
The snake charmers said, "You ignorant priest, you don't understandabout this cobra. He is well-mannered and very good indeed. He isnot bad like you! You are a thief who has stolen from the king.Because of your wickedness and criminal behavior, you are beingcarried off with your hands tied behind your back. But there's noneed to tie up a snake who is good!"
The priest thought, "Even a poisonous cobra, who doesn't bite orharm anyone, is given the name 'good'. In truth, goodness is thequality people admire most in the world!"
When they arrived at the throne room, the king asked, 'What is this,my children?" They replied, 'This is the thief who stole from yourroyal treasury." The king said. "Then punish him according to thelaw."
The adviser priest said, 'My lord king, I am no thief!" 'Then why didyou take gold coins from the palace?" asked the king.
The priest explained, "I have done this only as an experiment, totest why it is you honor and respect me more than others. Is itbecause of my family background and wealth, or my greatknowledge? Because of those things, I was able to get away withtaking one or two gold coins. Or do you respect my goodness mostof all? It is clear that by grabbing a handful of coins I no longer hadthe name 'good'. This alone turned respect into disgrace!
"Even a poisonous cobra, who doesn't harm anyone, is called `good'.There is no need for any other title!"
To emphasize the lesson he had learned, the wise priest recited:
"High birth and wealth and even knowledge vast, I find, Are lessadmired than goodness is, by humankind."
The king pardoned his most valuable adviser priest.
He asked to be allowed to leave the king's service in the ordinary