Become What You Are

There was once a porter who had to carry and struggle under many heavy loads and was inclined, at the worst moments, to cry out and pray to God and say, ‘If only you would release me from work, my Lord, I would be content with two pieces of bread a day.’

One day, he saw two people fighting and, brave man that he was, he went up to try and intervene and be a peace-maker. But what happened was that a blow with a blunt instrument aimed by one of the assailants at the other, missed its mark and fell on the head of the porter, and when the police came to round up the parties in the affray, they took him to be one of them and packed him off with the others to prison. Here he stayed for several days, receiving two pieces of bread a day without having to do any work for it, just in the manner, or rather not quite in the manner, he had so earnestly wished.

One can interpret the moral of this story either in a positive or a negative sense. Interpreting it in a positive sense, one might say the moral was that wishing and hoping for something you really want is part of the means of getting it—but you do have to be sure it’s something you really want. The negative interpretation would focus on the unanticipated disappointment that overtakes most human endeavours.

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This article is from the Autumn 2023 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.