Stories & Reflections
The arrogance of power
The master and his disciple were talking at a street corner when an old woman came up to them:
“Get away from my window!” shouted the old lady. “You are disturbing the customers”. The master apologized and crossed over to the other sidewalk.
They went on talking until an officer came up to them and said:
“We need you to move away from this sidewalk. The count will be passing by here in a few moments”.
“Let him use the other side of the street”, answered the master, without moving.
Then he turned to his disciple and told him: “Don’t forget: never be arrogant to the humble. And never be humble to the arrogant.”
The arrogance of sanctity
The Zen monk spent ten years meditating in his cave, trying to find out the path to the Truth. While he was praying one afternoon, a monkey came up to him. The monk tried to concentrate, but the monkey drew closer and seized the monk’s sandal.
“Damned monkey!” said the hermit. “Why have you come to disturb my prayers?”
“I’m hungry,” said the monkey.
“Go away! You are disturbing my communicating with God!”
“How can you talk to God if you cannot manage to communicate with humble creatures like me?” said the monkey.
And the monk apologized, feeling ashamed.
The arrogance of force
The village was threatened by a tribe of barbarians. The inhabitants were abandoning their houses and fleeing to a safer place. At the end of a year they had all left – except a group of Jesuits.
The army of barbarians entered the city without any resistance and held a great feast to commemorate the victory. In the middle of the dinner a priest appeared.
“You came in here and drove out peace. I beg you to leave at once.”
“Why haven’t you fled yet?” shouted the chief of the barbarians. “Don’t you see that I can run you through with my sword without blinking an eye?”
The priest answered calmly:
“Don’t you see that I can be run through by a sword without blinking an eye?”
Surprised by such serenity before death, the chief of the barbarians and his tribe abandoned the place the next day.
The arrogance of envy
In the Syrian desert, Satan told his disciples: “Human beings are always more concerned about wishing evil on others than doing good to themselves”.
And to demonstrate what he was saying, he decided to test two men who were resting nearby.
“I have come to make your wishes come true”, he said to one of them. “Whatever you want will be given to you. Your friend will receive the same thing – except double”.
The man remained in silence for a long while, and then he finally said:
“My friend is content because he will have double, no matter what my wish is. But I have prepared a trap for him: my wish is that you make me blind in one eye”.