in the Desert [The Correct Way of Thinking]
a time there were two merchants, who were friends. Both of them
were getting ready for business trips to sell their merchandise,
so they had to decide whether to travel together. They agreed
that, since each had about 500 carts, and that they were both
going to the same place along the same road, it would be too crowded
to go at the same time.
that it would be much better to go first. He thought, "The
road will not be rutted by the carts, the bullocks will be able
to choose the best of all the grass, we will find the best fruits
and vegetables to eat, my people will appreciate my leadership
and, in the end, I will be able to bargain for the best prices."
merchant considered carefully and realized there were advantages
to going second. He thought, "My friend's carts will level
the ground so we won't have to do any road work, his bullocks
will eat the old rough grass and new tender shoots will spring
up for mine to eat. In the same way, they will pick the old fruits
and vegetables and fresh ones will grow for us to enjoy. I won't
have to waste my time bargaining when I can take the price already
set and make my profit." So he agreed to let his friend go
first. This friend was sure he'd fooled him and gotten the best
of him - so he set out first on the journey.
who went first had a troublesome time of it. They came to a wilderness
called the 'Waterless Desert', which the local people said was
haunted by demons. When the caravan reached the middle of it,
they met a large group coming from the opposite direction. They
had carts that were mud smeared and dripping with water. They
had lotuses and water lilies in their hands and in the carts.
The head man, who had a know-it-all attitude, said to the merchant,
"Why are you carrying these heavy loads of water? In a short
time you will reach that oasis on the horizon with plenty of water
to drink and dates to eat. Your bullocks are tired from pulling
those heavy carts filled with extra water - so throw away the
water and be kind to your overworked animals!"
the local people had warned them, the merchant did not realize
that these were not real people, but demons in disguise. They
were even in danger of being eaten by them. Being confident that
they were helpful people, he followed their advice and had all
his water emptied onto the ground.
they continued on their way they found no oasis or any water at
all. Some realized they'd been fooled by beings that might have
been demons, and started to grumble and accuse the merchant. At
the end of the day, all the people were tired out. The bullocks
were too weak from lack of water to pull their heavy carts. All
the people and animals lay down in a haphazard manner and fell
into a deep sleep. Lo and behold, during the night the demons
came in their true frightening forms and gobbled up all the weak
defenseless beings. When they were done there were only bones
lying scattered around not one human or animal was left
months, the second merchant began his journey along the same way.
When he arrived at the wilderness, he assembled all his people
and advised them "This is called the 'Waterless Desert'
and I have heard that it is haunted by demons and ghosts. Therefore
we should be careful. Since there may be poison plants and foul
water, don't drink any local water without asking me." In
this way they started into the desert.
about halfway through, in the same way as with the first caravan,
they were met by the water soaked demons in disguise. They told
them the oasis was near and they should throw away their water.
But the wise merchant saw through them right away. He knew it
didn't make sense to have an oasis in a place called 'Waterless
Desert'. And besides, these people had bulging red eyes and an
aggressive and pushy attitude, so he suspected they might be demons.
He told them to leave them alone saying, "We are business
men who don't throw away good water before we know where the next
is coming from."
that his own people had doubts, the merchant said to them, "Don't
believe these people, who may be demons, until we actually find
water. The oasis they point to may be just an illusion or a mirage.
Have you ever heard of water in this 'Waterless Desert'? Do you
feel any rain-wind or see any storm clouds?" They all said,
"No", and he continued, "If we believe these strangers
and throw away our water, then later we may not have any to drink
or cook with - then we will be weak and thirsty and it would be
easy for demons to come and rob us, or even eat us up! Therefore,
until we really find water, do not waste even a drop!"
continued on its way. That evening it reached the place where
the first caravan's people and bullocks had been killed and eaten
by the demons. They found the carts and human and animal bones
lying all around. They recognized that the fully loaded carts
and the scattered bones belonged to the former caravan. The wise
merchant told certain people to stand watch around the camp during
The next morning
the people ate breakfast, and fed their bullocks well. They added
to their goods the most valuable things left from the first caravan.
So they finished their journey very successfully, and returned
home safely so that they and their families could enjoy their
is: One must always be wise enough not to
be fooled by tricky talk and false appearances.