Seven Pillars House of Wisdom > Articles > One Word, a Small Stone, and an Empty Book

One Word, a Small Stone, and an Empty Book

Max Strom

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.”

Max Strom is a teacher, speaker, and author known for inspiring and impacting the lives of his students and has become one of the most respected teachers of personal transformation and yoga worldwide. Due to an ever-increasing demand for his teachings, Max travels extensively teaching methods and lecturing on personal transformation, spirituality, and yoga. His methods address the emotional and spiritual aspects of our life as well as physical healing and health. His teachings can now be read in his new book, A Life Worth Breathing (Skyhorse Publishing 2010). You can see more of his work on his DVDs Learn to Breathe: To Heal Yourself and Your Relationships and Max Strom Yoga – Strength, Grace, Healing.

Read more about Max Strom

Comments (5)
  • once again I relish the wisdom of max

    — marg on August 14, 2010

  • Thanks, Max. You are a wonderful wise storyteller.

    — janine on August 14, 2010

  • I am going to a workshop with Max Strom in the fall.  This will be my third.  I am so excited.  Just being in his presence, you can feel the gentleness and wisdom of his spirit.  This is a lovely parable.

    — Sharon on August 14, 2010

  • Thanks for sharing this story. I have read it before and always enjoy how it reminds us of what is important.

    — mei on September 12, 2010

  • Thanks for sharing this story Max. I’ve never heard about this story before and it’s just great!

    — Be on November 1, 2010

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12 August 2010

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