Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • As a nation Armenia is noted for being the first state to declare Christianity as its official religion. It happened 1700 years ago and it is considered a defining moment in Armenia’s history.

    Today, Armenia can become even more famous if it declares itself the first sovereign government to transform its country into a totally green and self sufficient land.

    Whatever weaknesses Armenia has by being landlocked with antagonistic governments almost on three quarters of its borders, lacking an oil industry, depending on Russia for its national security, having a weak economy and a dwindling population, these weaknesses can be incentives to transform into a completely self sufficient, green economy.

    My point is that research and development of green technologies has already been done. What remains is the will to implement and adapt those technologies for the Armenian rural farmer and eventually the city dwellers. Armenia does not have to reinvent the wheel. It can benefit from the work of many pioneer researchers. What the researchers of green technologies need is the possibility to demonstrate on a national level that their technologies are viable for an entire country and not just an academic phenomenon for isolated cases.

    Armenia is the ideal venue for such a national development.

    If the government of Armenia set a goal of ten years or more for such a transformation, it is sure that many organizations and governments would help it in such a brave and important experiment that may serve as a vanguard for a new green world of environmentally responsible countries.

    Armenia has a small population for its land mass. Most of its land is mountainous. Due to difficult economic times, the population of its villages is gradually dwindling. It is difficult for the villagers to maintain a sustainable income. There are also drought problems and sometimes water shortages that complicate life in the villages. Armenia, being landlocked, has limited ability to manufacture goods and export them. One can understand that self sufficiency should be the primary concern for the Armenian people for survival of the nation.

    Going green and striving for self sufficiency is a reachable goal. It can be done by beginning on a small scale experiment in remote villages. It is imperative to revitalize the village economy with green technologies such as developing self sufficient recycling of animal dung for producing organic fertilizer, methane gas for powering electricity and running tractors and cars.
    Research and development has already been done in Europe, India, and Cuba on using cow dung and other animal feces for production of methane gas for powering energy needs. Also using bulls for plowing and other heavy work is a necessary asset for self sufficient farming. Setting up a small scale efficient methane gas production facility on a farm is one key aspect for rural self sufficiency. Foreign companies and government agencies can help the village farmers in Armenia develop the green technologies to set up such grass roots facilities.

    Teaching sustainable, organic farming techniques is another important aspect of the rural farm development program. Promoting the health and well being of the rural population by training them to not depend on artificial fertilizers and chemicals in their farming techniques is a key factor. The natural health of the people depends on the intake of high quality, nutritious organic foods. Organic oil seeds are another part of the green economy. Such low cost oils, if produced in quantity, can serve to power diesel engines. It may be possible for a farmer to produce enough vegetable oil to power his diesel machines for the entire year. Such technologies exist. They need to be made available to the rural farmers. Inexpensive hydrogen/oxygen production units can help rural farmers increase the efficiency of oil or gas fuels. Such inexpensive units can be developed in Armenia with the help of foreign advisers.

    There are many technologies available for inexpensive self sufficiency for rural farmers. Once a determination is made by Armenian thinkers and politicians for investing resources and energy into such a grand project, many resources can be developed from around the world for the benefit of the rural farmer.

    Small scale experimental farms can be established in rural areas to adapt and perfect green technologies for use in Armenia. Once these experimental farms function successfully, the experiment can be spread to other areas of the country for the benefit of rural farmers. Helping the rural farmer with added value by the transformion of his production of natural products can also create more jobs in rural areas.

    An essential aspect of rural development is cow protection and milk production. Animals such as cows are worth much more money alive than dead because of their dung which can be converted to methane gas and high quality fertilizer. After the animals die naturally, their meat can be used for human consumption. The elimination of unnecessary violence is important for the environment and consciousness of the nation. Domesticated animals are worth much more alive than dead when green technologies are available to profit from their dung.

    There is a dynamic relationship between the ethical treatment of the land and animals and the environment. Researchers such
    as Rudolph Steiner and others have demonstrated through biodynamic growing techniques that respecting the natural cycles of nature along with the respect of life can increase significantly agricultural production and the quality of food. Such products support health and longevity as well as sustainable natural environment. Much research and development has already been done in this field. Armenian farmers can benefit from these techniques. After all, the bottom line for a farmer is making a sustainable living from the land. If we can demonstrate that a rural farmer’s economic and physical well being are considerably enhanced, then it will be a natural process changing over Armenian farmers to sustainable green technologies for farming and secondary transformation of food products by grass roots, rural industries. A nation that can feed its population without dependence on foreign imports is well on its way to independence from foreign influence.

    A friend of mine has developed a grass roots briquettes project for third world countries by which rural farmers can achieve a degree of energy independence by making energy bricks from biological by-products of the farm. Ben Bryant, a retired University Professor, has a non-profit organization called Appropriate Briquettes International Technology (ATBI) which is dedicated to making bagel-size briquettes without a binder from agricultural residues (leaves, straws and grasses) and industrial and urban waste materials. These briquettes can be used in place of firewood for cooking and heating purposes. This is just one example to demonstrate that there are many non profit organizations that can make available inexpensive green technologies for rural development.

    There are many secondary industries that can evolve from a green, organic farming and animal protection. Growing organic foods and transforming them into packaged organic food items is a growing and lucrative industry with added value when exported to more affluent countries. The label “Certified Organic” adds value commercially to food products. Even the meat of animals fed organic natural feed (without slaughterhouse additives) and protected until their natural death is more valuable and healthy than slaughterhouse meat from industrial production facilities.

    Other sources of energy production such as wind and sun and natural vegetable oil for diesel engines can transform the rural farm communities into a powerhouse of economic activity. Investment into the infrastructure for such development will be the crucial step for reaching a national conversion from conventional to a green economy. Armenian ingenuity and engineering skills can be put to work to develop efficient engines using vegetable oil or other alternative home grown fuel sources. Once the emphasis is put on green technologies and the future time table for completion of the transformation is made, the best minds in Armenia can be put to work to develop the most efficient systems for the task. Many experts from foreign countries will gladly participate to help Armenian engineers accomplish their tasks of conversion to green technologies.

    Many new technologies can develop from the Armenian Green Experiment that will have world significance. This will place the little country of Armenia at the forefront of the new green world of environmentally responsible nations. Armenia will be reborn as the “gunanch yergir” or the Green Country.

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  • He who lives without meanness and envy
    Is friend to every living entity
    Free of erred concepts and inflated pride
    Nor thinks himself the proprietor worldwide

    Is equal both in happiness and distress
    Tolerant, satisfied, self controlled, less stress
    Engaged always in service to the Lord
    With fixed mind, not awaiting a reward

    Whose intelligence adheres the Lord’s advice
    Without doubt or fear or any sinful vice
    Such a servant is very dear to the Lord
    For such humble soul, God’s love the reward

    The art of developing interpersonal skills by which one can nurture on a long term basis loving and sincere relationships is explained succinctly in the above verses.

    False concepts

    The most important adjustment one must make is to be free of false concepts about one’s identity and place in the universe. One can summarize life as a search for self identity. “Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I now? Where should I be going? What is the purpose of my life?” These questions are fundamental for understanding oneself and learning how to relate to others in life.

    Learning about oneself is a relational process. It is difficult to learn about oneself in a complete vacuum. When one is in relation to others, it is much easier to understand gradually who I am. Ultimately, we come to the complete understanding of who I am when we enter into a relationship with God. God is the complete whole and we are a part and parcel of God. This means that God is the Supreme Person eternally and we emanate from God. We have many similar qualities as God but we can never be equal to or greater because we are the part. The phrase part and parcel means we are individuals eternally like God, but we are unalterably small or limited in our person whereas God’s Person is infinitely great. We are one and different than God. We are one qualitatively one and quantitatively different. The drop of ocean water is qualitatively one with the ocean but quantitatively different.

    It is possible to understand God by deeply understanding oneself because we are part and parcel of God qualitatively one, but quantitatively different. The only thing that can hinder us from understanding properly is the false ego or the accumulation of false ideas that we believe to be true. The following is a simple but precise process by which we can understand what is the false ego and how it hinders our development as a person capable of loving God and all others as part of God’s family.


    There is the false ego and there is the real ego. Ego means I or I am or the identification of the eternal self. As stated above, we can only identify oneself in relation to something or someone else. The false ego (or I) identifies oneself with the material nature or matter. An example of false ego is, “I am the material body.” Everyone of us resides in a material body. If I identify myself with the material body that I dwell in, then I make a fundamental mistake. I consider the body made of matter which is constituted of the basic elements earth, water, fire, air, ether or space, mind, intelligence, and ego (or self identification). The first five elements make up what is called the gross material body and the last three make up the subtle material body. Such self identification with the material body is a fundamental mistake similar to mistaking the driver of a car with the car or mistaking the person with his clothes.

    Mistaking the clothes with the person or the car with the driver is a fundamental mistake of perception. If I am convinced that these mistakes of perception are true, then I am subject to illusion. An illusion is mistaking one thing to be another thing. Acting
    as if the illusion is true is being in a deluded state of mind. The false ego is the deluded state of mind where I am convinced that something which is not true is true. If I organize my thoughts and actions with this false conviction, I will remain baffled about the purpose of life.

    The false ego is precisely the desire one may have to dominate part or all of the material world. With the purported domination one desires to enjoy. One falsely identifies with the temporary body, mind and senses. The body is the vehicle by which one can enjoy the material world through the material senses. The mind is the center of activity of all the senses. When one hears of sense objects the mind becomes a fertile place of ideas of sense gratification. Thus, the mind and senses become repositories of lust or the obsessive desire to dominate and enjoy.


    Envy is a powerful and destructive feeling. If one harbors envy it is destructive for oneself and also be for the person to whom it is directed. To envy is to feel discontent and jealously long to have another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc. It is a much stronger emotion than jealousy, which denotes a feeling of resentment that another has gained something that one feels they more rightfully deserve.

    When one is jealous of someone else, the feeling will subside if the jealous person attains the same advantage that the other person has. In the case of envy, even if the envious person obtains the same advantage as the other person, he is not satisfied until the other person loses what they have and are left destitute.

    The origin of everything begins with God. In the Bhagavad gita 16.18, Lord Krishna explains the origin of envy:

    “Bewildered by false ego, strength, pride, lust and anger, the demons become envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is situated in their own bodies and in the bodies of others, and blaspheme against the real religion.”

    A person who becomes proud of accumulated wealth, power and the prestige may become envious of the Supreme God. God declares that He is the Supreme and that nothing is above Him or equal to Him. In the Bhagavad gita 15.18, Lord Krishna says:

    “Because I am transcendental, beyond both the fallible and the infallible, and because I am the greatest, I am celebrated both in the world and in the Vedas as that Supreme Person.”

    The material world is a place where people try to control and enjoy the material energy. A materialistic person becomes happy when successful in satisfying the senses and enjoying bodily pleasures. But when he sees others’ more successful in sense gratification and he isn’t, he is sorry and envious.

    Such persons are always against God’s supremacy. God is the Supreme controller and enjoyer. He is also the supreme object of envy for a certain class of people.. The envious are against the existence of God and the holy scriptures. This is caused by the prestige and accumulated wealth and power of such persons. They often doubt that there is existence after death. Thus, they do not use this life as a preparation for the next. Lacking such conviction, they actually become envious of their own self. This self envy manifests as the determined effort to deny the existence of God, debunk scriptural authority and systematically . Thinking himself independent and powerful in all actions, he deliberately disregards the proprietorship of God over all that be and acts against the instructions for good behavior given by God. Another symptom of self envy is the refusal by such persons to take good advice based on scriptural authority (or often any authority). Such persons think that they are above all others in strength, power or wealth. Thus, they think they can act in any way and no one can dare stop them. When such persons encounter a potential enemy who can counter their sensual activities, they make plans to destroy that person in one way or another.

    A person who is not God conscious acts according to the concept of the material body and senses.

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  • There was once a thief. He decided to rob a wealthy merchant’s home. Thinking the merchant was on vacation during a holiday weekend, the thief climbed over the boundary wall of the merchant’s estate and began to approach his house when he tripped a security alarm which alerted everyone in the house that someone had penetrated inside the property. The thief was shocked. He quickly took off his clothes
    and rolled them up in a ball and hid them. He then ran toward the merchant’s pond and slipped into the water in the pose of a yogi. He cropped his hair up like a yogi and began to meditate in the pond standing on one leg.

    The merchant’s security guards searched the grounds. They noticed the yogi meditating in the pond and were puzzled. The merchant was notified of the yogi’s presence. He quickly came to examine him. The thief impersonating a yogi remained deeply silent and meditated with half closed eyes. The merchant was impressed by his concentration. For a long time the merchant keep silent in the presence of the yogi. He felt peace and calm. He became convinced that the yogi was a great saint who came to bless him.

    The merchant gave his guards instructions to inform him when the yogi stopped his meditation. He returned to his home and took rest. Early the next day, the guards informed the merchant that the yogi opened his eyes and smiled at them. He came quickly and bowed respectfully at the yogi’s feet and begged him to bless him and his family. The yogi smiled and said “May you and your family be blessed.” The merchant was overwhelmed and grateful. He invited the yogi to stay with him and become his guru. The thief was not sure what to do. He was amazed that the merchant accepted him as a true yogi and was ready to honor him as his guru.

    The thief said, “My dear son, our paths have crossed by providence. Yet, my journey has a way to go before I can stay in one place. I must go now as my destiny has dictated that I continue on the path of seeking more teaching from my master.”

    The merchant was impressed by the yogi’s sincerity. He fell at the feet of the yogi and begged him to reconsider. The yogi was tempted to say yes. Knowing well he could not sustain the charade for an extended period of time before he would be discovered to be a common thief, he insisted he could not stay.

    He encouraged the merchant to continue to meditate in silence and pray for the welfare of all. He instructed him to be charitable to the poor and kind to his family. The merchant was truly overwhelmed by the yogi’s simplicity and purity. He begged him not to go. He offered him many valuable gifts. The thief was tempted by the gifts and the invitation. He was prudent. However, because he understood he could not go much longer without being discovered by someone.

    He insisted that his journey was yet incomplete and that he was obliged to continue his normal course. But he promised to return in the future if the merchant and his family members followed his instructions. The thief asked the merchant for a clean new cloth and one piece of fruit as a gift. The merchant wanted to lavish many clothes and fruits on him, but the yogi only accepted one of each. The yogi then walked out of the merchant’s estate grounds and quickly disappeared into the surrounding forests.

    The thief was stunned by the experience. He decided to think deeply about what had just transpired. He was convinced that it was not possible to return to his village and continue as a thief. He felt he had a discovered a new direction in his life. But how was he to continue on a path that was unknown to him? He had never received a formal education. His only contact with holy people occurred when itinerant yogis who would pass through his village and stop to beg for alms. They were always kind and friendly. He never paid much attention to them nor listened to their stories. He had given charity to one. He could still remember the smiling face of that yogi. The yogi held his arm and looked into his eyes penetratingly and said, “When your clothes come off, your eyes will open.”

    At the time, the thief thought that the yogi was a crazy fellow. Now he reflected deeply about the smiling yogi’s words spoken in a long forgotten past. Could the yogi have known what would happen in his future? He was not able to walk any further. He sat down and just thought about what had happened to him and the prophetic words of the yogi.

    A very powerful yearning welled up in his heart to find that yogi. He felt a mysterious bond and magnetic pull guiding him to look for the yogi. He decided that there are certain events in life that
    are indicators or wake up calls that are meant to bring us out of the haze of ordinary life. The routine of life is an habitual method of thoughts and desires conditioning or limiting our actions.
    We can live an entire life restricted by these accepted norms which may be good or bad. The probing question that is dramatized by the wake up call is whether the “conditioning” we are subjected to is good or bad?

    The thief remained motionless pondering these thoughts. He left his village and “routine life” so that he could think this issue over without the pressure of “obligations” detracting his attention and pulling him back to the routine that would completely obscure his attempt to understand. He was certain of one thing. He needed to find the yogi. He needed the help of such a special person who can be a catalyst for continual self inspection to question his assumptions(inclination to want things) and motives(the psychological feature that arouses an person to action toward a desired goal or that which gives purpose and direction to behavior).

    The thief felt like he was drowning in a turbulent and freezing ocean with little or no hope of escaping. By some amazing coincidence he had a glimpse of what it would be like to be a genuine holy man. The remarkable experience was predicted by a total stranger. He needed the help of that stranger as much as he needed to breathe or needed someone to lift him out of the freezing ocean before losing his life.

    These thoughts strengthened the thief’s resolve that he should concentrate all his efforts to find the yogi. He felt that if he searched sincerely, the yogi would understand his need and desire and might appear before him. The thief was determined to not commit any theft but to completely trust that somehow he would survive and reach his goal.

    He began to walk along a country road that was traveled by caravans. He met a caravan of pilgrims who invited him to accompany them. They shared their food with him and settled down for the night. Late at night, the thief woke up with an impulse to rob the pilgrims and make off with the spoils. Since thievery was second nature for him, he carefully pilfered valuables from the sleeping pilgrims but felt pangs of guilt and shame. He decided to not run away but rather to replace the stolen items scrambling them amongst the pilgrims so that something that belonged to one would be with the belongings of another. The next morning when everyone woke up, they were shocked to discover their personal belongings missing and replaced with the belonging of another person. They soon discovered that everything was scrambled. What was the meaning of this and who did it? After a short time of suspense and questioning, the thief admitted that he scrambled the belongings. When asked why he did such a thing, he confessed he was a thief by profession. He woke up late at night and could not resist stealing, but he was also overcome by feelings of shame that he was stealing from honest pilgrims that extended him such hospitality and kindness. He decided to only scramble the belongings and not to make off with them into the night.

    Everyone was shocked by the revelation. They were not sure how to proceed. Some argued that the thief only acted out of custom and habit, but exhibited that he now had a sense of social responsibility and remorse. Therefore, he should be excused and permitted to stay on the caravan as a guest. Others countered that he was still a thief. If anything happened that might anger him, he could easily resort to his old habits and make off with their belongings. The discussion went back and forth until a stranger approached them. It was the same yogi the thief was longing to meet.

    The yogi listened to the discussion and smiled. Due to respect, the pilgrims asked his advice. After all, they were on a pilgrimage to holy places to meet holy men and here was a yogi in their midst. The yogi told a story.

    One day Nasreddin Hodja’s (hodja means a teacher) wife went to the local bath house for women which had three bath stalls. She entered one and was about to bathe when one of the attendants asked her to move because the wife of a merchant named Yasir aga had just arrived and had priority. She moved to another stall.

    As she prepared to bath, another attendant came and asked her to move because the wife of the merchant Ziyad aga just arrived and had priority to bathe. She moved again to the third stall.

    As she started to bath, she was asked by still another attendant to move because the wife of the merchant Jamal aga arrived to bathe. Each one of the women was the wife of a prominent businessman. Because they tipped the attendants, they were given preference. The poor wife of the Hodja put her clothes back on and left the bathhouse.

    The Hodja’s wife was upset. When Hodja arrived home, he noticed right away that his wife was visibly upset about something. He tried to cheer her up with some pleasantries but she remained silent. After a while, she said, “I want you to become a businessman right away.”

    The Hodja was shocked. It was easier to say than to do. “How can I be a merchant. I have no money to start a business,” he said. This statement made her more angry. She replied, “If you cannot become a businessman, then I will divorce you right away.”

    Hodja was shaken by this strange request of his wife. He asked for a grace period to find a way to become a merchant businessman. She gave him 24 hours or else. Hodja couldn’t sleep or eat. He stayed up all night trying to find a way to become a merchant. His only hope was to sell something he possessed to raise enough money to rent a shop. His only dispensable belonging was a good donkey. The next day he took his donkey to the town bazaar. He hawked the animal with words of praise and exaggeration, “Look at the length of his ears, look at his teeth that shine like pearls, his tail is like the hair of an empress, and so on.” A crowd assembled around the donkey to hear the bravado of the Hodja. Finally, one man stepped forward and bought the donkey for a good amount.

    The Hodja had just enough money to rent a shop for one month but not enough to buy any merchandise. He went ahead and rented a shop, put up a sign, “Hodja aga - merchant of precious wares.” He went to his shop everyday and sat in the empty space until closing time. He had nothing to sell and no one ventured even to enter the empty shop. The Hodja’s wife was very pleased with him. She was given the respect by the bathhouse attendants that she needed to get a stall and bathe.

    Hodja continued to open and close the shop. He knew it would not last long unless some extraordinary event happened, but he couldn’t imagine what that would be. One day the king, Tamerlane, came to the Aksehir town mosque for Friday prayers. On finishing his prayers, he decided to take a stroll through the town bazaar. Walking through the bazaar, he noticed the empty shop with Hodja aga sitting inside. He looked at the sign and wondered what were the precious wares he was offering the public. Intrigued, he entered the shop.

    “What are the precious wares you are selling and where are they,” said the king.

    “I’m selling wisdom, your majesty,” answered Hodja. “I have a clay pot in the back room full of wisdom. It will cost you only one gold coin.”

    “I’ll take it,” said the king.

    “Your wisdom for today is “Before doing something, consider what will happen to you after you do it.”

    Tamerlane seemed dissatisfied. “Hodja, this wisdom is overpriced. I don’t think it is worth one gold coin.”

    “Your Majesty, I have given you a wonderful bargain today because you are my first customer. This wisdom is worth more than you realize now. You will understand in the future its actual value,” said the Hodja with such confidence that the king gave the coin and left.

    The king was impressed with the claims of the Hodja. He ordered a ornate frame and had his court calligrapher write the wisdom on a large parchment and placed the wisdom on the wall of his public hall where he received guests for all to see.

    For some time, Tamerlane’s viziers plotted to kill him. They decided to bribe the king’s barber to cut his throat while he shaved him. They offered the barber such a sum of money that he couldn’t say no.

    The same day that Tamerlane had the Hodja’s wisdom hung in a prominent wall space of his public hall, he summoned the barber for his weekly haircut and trim for his beard. The king sat on a chair, the barber covered his chest with a clean cloth and prepared to shave the king. Tamerlane relaxed as he looked up at the newly framed wisdom of the Hodja and read it out loud.

    Your wisdom for today is “Before doing something, consider what will happen to you after you do it.”

    The barber had just put his sharp blade on the neck of the king when he heard these prophetic words spoken with such strength and assurance. His hand began to shake. He became terrified thinking the king knew exactly what he was about to do. Overwhelmed with fear, the barber dropped the razor and fell to the floor at the feet of the king and began to beg for his mercy. He was hysterical with fright. H e repeated over and over again, “Please spare me. It is not my fault. Please spare me.” Tamerlane calmed the barber and insisted he explain himself or else be beaten and jailed for life.

    The barber explained the sinister plot while whimpering and begging for mercy. He said, “Your Majesty knew of this plan all along which is evident by your grave warning to me. Please forgive and spare me, a poor barber and father of six children.”

    Tamerlane had the barber and the treacherous viziers punished appropriately. The barber was beaten and thrown into a horrible prison for five years. The viziers were tortured and hung to death.

    They summoned Hodja agha to his palace.

    “My dear Hodja agha, the wisdom that you sold me seemed to be very expensive at the time of purchase. I tried to talk down the price, but you very astutely told me it was a good bargain and I would realize it in the future. I must tell you that your wisdom saved my life today.” Tamerlane ordered his treasurer to give the Hodja a pot of gold coin. He appointed him to an administrative post in his town.

    The yogi remained silent while looking at all the people assembled there. He said, “Now you decide what to do with this fellow traveler, but remember the Hodja’s wisdom, “Before doing something, consider what will happen to you after you do it.”

    The pilgrims looked at each other and made a few hand signs that they should discuss the issue of the thief privately. The yogi and the thief were left together while the pilgrims went off to discuss the matter. After a short time, they returned and a pilgrim respectfully addressed the yogi. Reverend Sir, we have decided that you should decide what we should do with this thief.

    “We realize that we are not spiritually astute enough to make the right decision. We believe, however, that you are much more capable than we are to make the right decision for the welfare of this man and us.”

    The yogi was pleased with their humility and deference to his judgment. He said, “I shall take this thief with me because my only possession is love for God and I pray he steals this from me as there is an unlimited ocean of it available in the hearts of the sincere seekers.”

    All the pilgrims were pleased by this pronouncement of the yogi. They asked the yogi to accompany them on their pilgrimage. He declined. Bid them farewell and went off with the thief.

    The yogi and the thief walked a long distance without a word. The thief broke the silence by asking permission to ask the yogi a question. The yogi gave a nod of approval. The thief asked, “Reverend Sir, When we met for the first time you held my arm and said, ‘When your clothes come off, your eyes will open.’ How did you know what was going to happen to me in the future?”

    “Yes, your eyes were open. But, you still have not understood.”

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