One Word, a Small Stone, and an Empty Book
Once a seeker traveled to see a renowned Sage who dwelled in the forest and asked for a teaching. “Will you teach me the secret of a meaningful life?” The Sage studied the man and finally said a simple word, “Gratitude.” Then he gave the seeker a small, plain stone. Disappointed, the seeker bowed and walked away. Later, confounded, he sat beneath a tree and examined the stone. In a quandary over the cryptic teaching, he finally stuffed the stone into his pocket and angrily shuffled home.
Some days later, still frustrated, the seeker decided to approach the Sage again. He knelt before him and exclaimed that he was confused as to the meaning of the stone and why he should feel gratitude for a mere rock. Could the Sage take pity on him and explain how to fix his life using something more understandable, like a book, to help him find meaning in his life? The Sage pondered for a while and then gave the man a book and told him to make use of it every night before bed. Happy, the seeker hurried away, and when alone, opened the book. But the book was utterly blank, not a single word was written on the pages.
Angry, the man went to the Elder Woman of the village and complained to her about the Sage. “They say he is a great man, but I think he is a fraud. Or insane. His idea of a teaching is to say one word, and give me a rock and an empty book.” The Elder Woman looked surprised and impressed. “The Sage gave you all three of those things?” The seeker scoffed, “Yes, and I am going to burn the book and throw the stone at the him the next time I see him.” The Elder Woman shook her head and looked him in the eye. “You are a fool. The teacher rarely gives more than a word, much less a stone and a book. You are very fortunate but too stubborn to understand.” She explained, “The Sage told you what to study. Gratitude. The stone is to keep in your pocket to remind you every time you touch it to practice gratitude. The book is not to read, but to write down everything you feel grateful for every night before bed. If you are as smart as you think you are you will do these things and your life will change, because you will transform a single word into an idea, the stone into a practice, and the empty book into the book of your life.”