Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • There was and there was not an old woman who was reputed to be capable of more evil than the Devil. This seemed impossible even for the Devil to believe; but, seeing is believing. One day the Devil appeared before her and questioned why it was claimed that she was more evil than himself. She laughed and said he should not listen to idle gossip. Since he was present before her, she took the opportunity to ask him a favor. She said,

    “I know that there is a pious young man in our village who is the most devout follower of God’s path. He is inspiring many others in the village to worship God Almighty. Obviously, you have tried to mislead that young man and have not succeeded up until now. Perhaps I can succeed where you have failed. If I do, can you give me one wish.”

    The Devil was so anxious to see that devout man dishonored that he did not carefully think about the consequences of his granting her a wish. He agreed thinking that one wish would not do any harm.

    Early one evening, the pious young man walked toward the church for prayer. As he passed the old woman’s house, she came out calling for help, “My only cow is roaming the streets of the village. Please help me bring her back before something happens to her!” The young man felt impelled to help her. She pointed in the direction where the cow went and he hurriedly ran to find the animal. After some time, he returned to her barn with the milk cow. The old woman was very pleased and thanked him,

    “Dear son, you are truly a devout young man; the pride of your mother and the true servant of God. May your days be blessed always with the grace of God Almighty. Can I ask you one more favor. My daughter is very sick. She has been in bed for many days. Please go to her side and pray to God to be merciful on her. I have faith that God will hear your prayer because your heart is pure.”

    The unsuspecting young man was trained to respect elders and his nature was to trust the faithful. He agreed and climbed the stairs to the sick woman’s room. He entered the room and as he bowed down, the old woman slammed the door shut and locked it from the outside. The young man was perplexed. The old woman spoke loudly from the other side of the door,

    “Young man, you have three choices. There is a bottle of wine on the table, a baby in the crib and the young mother is sleeping in the bed. You can drink the wine, kill the child or have sex with the young mother!”

    The young man was aghast at what he heard. He said, “I have never knowingly sinned in my life. I can’t any of those things. I came to pray for your daughter.”

    “If you don’t do one of those three, then I am going to scream and summoned the village folk and say that you barged into my house and attempted to rape my daughter.”

    The young man became confused and frightened by the old woman’s threat. He said, “Please do not scream.” He quickly thought of his choices of murder, rape or drinking wine. He said, “I will do the lesser of the three evils and drink the bottle of wine.” Please do not scream. I will drink it now and you please open the door.”

    He had never drank an entire bottle of wine. At most, he had only taken little sips as part of communion. Now, he drank the entire bottle and soon felt very intoxicated.
    He looked at the beautiful young woman and approached her. He embraced her and she protested. The baby began to cry and scream in fright. The young man in his state of intoxication became enraged and struck the child so hard that the baby died. The pious young man was seized by the outraged villagers who lynched him for his child murder and attempted rape of the mother.

    The Devil was astounded by the evil woman. He regretted granting her one wish now that he could understand the extent of her evil capabilities. He was hesitant to approach her, but he had no choice. He timidly spoke to her from a distance,

    “You are indeed astute at inflicting evil on believers. I will grant you one wish. Please speak your mind.”

    The evil old woman said, “If you grant me one wish, then you must grant me two for I have served your purpose beyond the pale of your expectations.” The Devil felt obliged because the woman had accomplished something that he was not able to do. He agreed. He cautioned her by saying, “Remember, evil has its limits for all things in this world have a beginning and an end.” The woman replied, “What you call evil, I call justice. Even if the world comes to an end, justice will prevail.” Even the Devil was amazed by the evil woman.

    The evil woman asked for her first wish. She said, “I have a neighbor who is a faithful believer in God. She owns two milk cows that give each a large quantity of sweet milk
    rich with cream. She drinks the milk and has plenty left over to distribute to the poor. I am very disturbed by her piety and goodness. I want you to take those cows to the high cliff near here and push them to their death.

    The Devil said, “Are you upset because the pious lady doesn’t give you any milk?”

    “No,not at all. I am upset because she does give me milk everyday and wishes me well. I can even sense that she prays for my welfare. This is what infuriates me the most! You must kill her cows and put an end to her nonsense,” she said. The Devil was shocked.

    He said, “What if I give you two milk cows that will give as much or more sweet milk than that woman’s cows?” Then you can do as she does and even better.”

    “Even if you give me 2000 milk cows, I will not be satisfied until she loses her two cows,” said the evil woman.

    The Devil understood the meaning of envy by witnessing the extent to which this woman was determined to ruin the pious lady. He kept his promise and killed the two milk cows. He shuddered to think what her next wish would be.

    He informed her that the two cows were dead. She laughed wickedly and felt contented that her wish was fulfilled. She asked for the second wish,

    “I want you to make me the queen of the world with an invincible army and all people subject to my will. I want this more than anything else so that I can destroy the Christian faith and turn all believers into faithless urchins of sin.” She looked at the Devil with a frightening mien of hatred and terror. He could barely look her in the face because she was so hideous and cruel.

    He said, “I hesitate to grant this power to you because you will perhaps cull the wrath of God. She sneered at the word God and spate fire and hatred in her words.

    “Who is this God. He is only as strong as the faithful that blindly follow him. If I destroy all the faithful, there will no longer be this fantasy God, He is dwelling only in the minds of the demented faithful!”

    The Devil shuddered at her determination and the extent of her arrogance. He said, “So be it.”

    She became the Empress of the whole world with an invincible army and power and dominion over all the peoples of the earth. She immediately ordered that a huge idol be made and set up in a public place. She commanded all the people of the earth to worship the idol. Whoever refused would be cast into an infernal furnace of fire. A Christian woman with her child was seized who refused to worship the idol. Her child was brutally thrown into the fire. The child cried out to her mother,

    “Mother, don’t be afraid. The fire is not burning me. It is as cool as spring water.” The mother believed her child and also jumped into the fire. She smiled and hugged her child and both remained in the fire unscathed. The Evil Empress cursed the fire for not burning the Christians. The fire replied,

    ” Like everything else, I am also the servant of God. Therefore, I should not be used for an evil purpose. Then, in a mysterious way, the fire blazed with fury and burned the Evil Empress who screamed in agony and was totally consumed by the scorching flames.

    Envy is one of the most terrible and destructive emotions that can rent asunder the soul of a person.
    Due to envy, one is not satisfied until the person they are envious of is destroyed. There is a difference between envy and jealousy. If I am jealous of someone because they have something that I don’t have, then if, by some means, I can get what they have, my jealousy will subside and I will feel content. But, envy is a much stronger and evil feeling. If the person who I am envious of has something I don’t have, then I will not be content even if I get what they have or more until that person loses what they have and is destroyed completely.

    The old woman in this story was envious of the pious woman and was not satisfied until she lost the two cows. Concerning the Christians, she wanted them completely eliminated off the face of the earth. Such extreme feeling of envy is most sinful and destructive for all concerned including the envious person.We should all pray not to fall into the dark abyss of envy by opening our hearts to forgiveness and goodwill to others. This can only happen if we are secure in our relationship with God. There is an interesting story that illustrates this point.

    There was and there wasn’t a saintly man who always stayed in a meditative state of prayer and contemplation. This saint had received a large amount of precious gifts from a king who admired his
    purity. The saint had no need for the wealth so he left it out in the open where anyone could take what they wanted for themselves. A group of thieves heard about the saint and his trough of wealth open for taking at his place of residence in the forest. They went to see for themselves.

    They were amazed to see such wealth left in the open as if it had no value. The saint was meditating nearby. The thieves took everything they could get their hands on and decided to mutilate the saint in case he complain to the king. They cut off his arms and legs and threw him into a well to die.

    He was an advanced yogi and was able to control his life airs and bodily functions so that he did not die. He remained suspended in trance in the well. Eventually, nearby villagers reported to the king about the saint’s misfortune. The king hurried to the well and pulled the saint out of the well. Everyone was astonished to see the saint was alive and smiling. The king asked him who mutilated his body. The saint replied,

    “My Dear King, No one put me in this condition. It is due to my previous activities that I am suffering now in this abominable condition.” Out of respect for the saint, the king did not insist on knowing more. He realized that the saint was on a higher level of consciousness than ordinary men. He had no feelings of enmity or revenge due to his continual contemplation of God. He asked permission to take the saint back to his palace so that he could serve him intimately as his mentor. The saint agreed.

    The king was instructed by the saint to build a school. The saint became the teacher and instructed the king and other students in spiritual knowledge. One day the same thieves that had mutilated the saint came to the court of the king dressed as mendicant saints. The king was naturally kind to saints.
    He received them respectfully. The thieves did some magic tricks that bewildered the king into believing they were men of high spiritual caliber. He called the resident saint to meet the disguised four thieves.When he was carried into their presence, they were shocked to see him alive and well.The real saint immediately recognized them, but pretended he did not know them. He greeted them respectfully.

    The king asked the saint what would be an appropriate way to honor the disguised thieves. The saint instructed him to reward them with great wealth and honor for their saintliness. He also praised them for their spiritual achievements. The thieves were uncomfortable expecting something terrible to happen. But, when they heard the saint’s instructions to the king, they were pleasantly surprised.
    The king showered them with praise and precious gifts. He offered them a wonderful place to stay as long as they desired and many soldiers to guard them while they remained in his kingdom.

    The thieves retired to their quarters with their new wealth and excellent residential quarters. On the way to their residence, the thieves began to talk to the captain of the guard accompanying them for their protection. One of the thieves said,

    “Captain, the man who advises your king is actually a thief who is masquerading as a saint. On our travels, we stayed at a monastery where he was a servant. He stole some of our belongings along with those of other saints. He was apprehended by the local authorities with the stolen goods. When we were summoned to the jail to verify the stolen goods and identify the thief, he accused us of lying.
    For his offenses of stealing and blaspheming saints, he was sentenced to have his arms and legs cut off. As the thief spoke these lies and the other thieves confirmed the false statements, the earth began to rumble as if an earthquake was taking place. The captain and his guards fell to one side by the heaving earth. The moving earth opened a gaping crack into which all the thieves disappeared. Mysteriously, the cracked earth closed. All the thieves were crushed by the sudden opening and closing of the ground.

    Later, the captain narrated the extraordinary tragedy that befell the thieves. He explained the irony of how the earth rumbled and cracked just as the masquerading saints finished their derogatory blasphemy of the king’s personal saintly adviser. The king looked at the mutilated saint for an explanation. The saint reluctantly told the real history of the thieves.

    It is said that the earth can bear the weight of countless millions of people, mountains, rivers, oceans and expansive lands. But, the earth cannot the bear the weight of envious liars who spread false information about innocent, saintly persons and desire their destruction.

    The king’s adviser was a saintly person who heart was full of forgiveness and love. But, the thieves were full of deceit and envy. Such persons are destined to self destruct by their own evil acts and by the will of God. There is an Armenian saying, “the stronger the vinegar becomes, the sooner it breaks its container,

    ” kahtzaghuh eenchkahn oujehgh ullah, ehrehn ahmahnuh eenkuh guh juhghketchuhnee”

    We should compare the evil old woman with the pious Christian woman and her child. Evil seems to get the upper hand in the short run, but as time goes on, evil is always defeated by virtue. We should be sure of this fact. The yogi saint seemed to be hopelessly left for dead. However, by his discipline and compassion he was able to literally rise from the dead and live gloriously as the advisor of the king. In the end, the thieves self destructed by their wicked lies and slander of the viruous yogi saint.

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  • One day Shiva and Parvati were traveling together. Parvati devi saw a poor beggar whose sight made her feel pity and compassion. She asked her husband to help the poor man. Shiva looked at the beggar and understood that he was unfortunate due to having a sinful and dishonest nature. Parvati ignored his evaluation of the man and insisted he help him. Shiva agreed but on condition that he offer the beggar a disguised treasure of great value. If the beggar was truly virtuous he would understand the value of the charitable gift and accept it for his long term benefit. Parvati agreed.

    Shiva disguised himself as a brahmin priest carrying a lopsided or crooked watermelon. He mysteriously placed precious jewels in the watermelon which did not reveal any trace of being open. As Shiva walked past the beggar, the mendicant called out to him: “Have mercy! Help this poor beggar. I need money to eat.”

    Shiva stopped and spoke to the beggar, “I have this watermelon. You can have it and quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger.”

    The beggar scoffed at him, “I don’t need or like a watermelon. Give me some money to eat.”

    Shiva left the watermelon beside the beggar and walked away.

    The beggar didn’t appreciate the gift. He said, “What am I going to do with your miserable watermelon. Have you no decency. I don’t want your watermelon. Give me money.”

    Shiva hurried away. The beggar looked at the watermelon derisively. He picked it up and noticed it was lopsided. He was convinced there was something wrong with it. He saw another man coming his way. He quickly began to praise the sweetness of the watermelon and offered it to the new passerby for a few coins. The passerby looked at the watermelon and thought, “I am thirsty and hungry. That watermelon will satisfy me tonight.” He offered a few coins for it and the beggar gave it to him convinced he had made a good deal getting rid of it for enough money to buy some cheap wine.

    Shiva and Parvati were watching the fateful doings and were amazed at what happened.

    Parvati said, “How is it possible that the beggar is so unfortunate?”

    Shiva replied, “He is offensive to holy men. Generally, he is ungrateful and is not at all interested in
    any spiritual understanding of the nature of life. His mind is consumed by the everyday striving for money, wine, meat, sex and a place to sleep. He is profoundly unfortunate due to his ignorance of spiritual knowledge.

    The beggar, however, was convinced that he made a good deal by getting a few coins for the watermelon. From his perspective, the watermelon was lopsided and useless. His objective was to get a few coins to purchase his daily ration of wine. He also disdained the kind gesture of Shiva who left the watermelon for his benefit. The beggar’s selfish and petty desires blinded him from accepting such a precious gift that would have solved all his financial problems. Selfish desires limit one’s vision of life and prohibit the possibility of loving exchanges. Such exchanges enrich one’s life with greater benefit than any monetary ones. Having the purity of heart to accept a gift given with love and compassion is a great blessing. Giving gifts with the same spirit of love opens one’s soul to a wonderful world of sharing. Poverty is no longer a problem when one is surrounded by loving friends. And God showers His mercy on such persons whose heart’s are pure, free from lust, anger, greed, envy, madness and illusion.

    There was and there wasn’t a king who wanted to distribute his wealth to the “deserving poor.” He wanted to also witness in secret how the deserving accepted his charity. He employed a baker who was a man of confidence. He asked the baker to make a loaf of bread with precious jewels mixed into the interior of the dough so as not to be seen.

    When the baker opened his shop, the king observed from an adjacent room. He asked the baker to give the loaf with the jewels to the most pious person entering his shop and a regular loaf to might appear to be an impious person. Two customers came in at the same time. One was a holy man dressed in his robes and the other a nondescript man with a tattoo of a skull on his hand. The baker assumed that the holy man was pious and the the man with a skull tattoo was impious. Ha gave the loaf of bread with the jewels to the holy man and the regular loaf to the other man.

    The holy man sensed that there were lumps in his loaf and he suspected that they might be lumps of uncooked wet flour. He prided himself on always getting the best value for his money. He looked at the other customer and thought that he was a person of lesser discrimination that he could manipulate for his advantage. While the baker attended to retrieving new baked loaves from his oven, the holy man smiled at the other customer and said, “Friend, I always want to help others who might be in need. This loaf that I have is bigger than the one you got. Why not exchange yours for mine and get a better value.” The second man, whose disposition was one of always accepting the generosity of others agreed. They exchanged their loaves.

    The king observed this exchange. He was surprised and somewhat perplexed at what happened. He tried to justify it by concluding that fate has its mysterious ways. Perhaps, the holy man was precluded from receiving the wealth to protect him from temptation of worldliness. The king was not sure.

    After the two customers left the king discussed the outcome with the baker, who defended himself by saying, “I simply followed your instruction.”

    The king accepted that Fate is mysterious and cannot be comprehended by ordinary men.

    The holy man was very pleased with the outcome thinking that he always was more astute in his judgment than others which resulted in his getting the best bargain.

    The man with the tattoo did not realize what happened until he returned home and began to eat the loaf with his family. While eating, he and his family discovered the hidden precious jewels. He went back to the baker with the jewels and showed him what he found. The baker, who was an honest man, insisted that the customer keep the jewels for it was his destiny to get them especially since he was honest and humble.

    There is an Armenian saying, ahgh ou hatz chem ghehrerr ou jahnabahr chem kuhnatzehr vor mahrtoun ahrjehkuh jahatchem - I haven’t eaten bread nor traveled on a journey with him in order to understand his true value (or character).

    One needs to have experience with a person to judge their character. What better experience than traveling with or eating with a person to understand their values and character.

    It is said in the Bhagavad-gita (15.15) that God is in the heart of every person and from Him come knowledge, remembrance and forgetfulness. When a person opens their heart to acceptance of an Almighty God and humbles himself before Him, then so many wonderful opportunities become manifest. Such a humble soul can accept God’s mercy which often manifests in mysterious ways that are unexpected.
    A person, however, who is atheistic and attempts to control destiny by material strategies will often make mistakes by overlooking vital details. For the faithful person, God gives the intelligence to make the right decisions in life. For the atheist, God gives partial knowledge and forgetfulness by which important decisions will often be mistaken and lead to missed opportunities. Ultimately, knowledge, remembrance and forgetfulness are inspired or given by God, not by any manipulation of material

    It is also said in the Bhagavad-gita (18.61) that God is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy. God is present in the heart of every living being and directs their activities according to what they deserve by their previous acts and desires. The living entity gets what he deserves and is carried by the material body, which is created in the material energy under the direction of God. As soon as a living entity is placed in a particular type of body, he has to work under the spell of that body, which acts under the influence of natural forces such as goodness, passion, ignorance (lust, anger, greed, etc.). By the order of God, material nature fashions a particular type of body to a particular type of living entity so that he may work according to his past unfulfilled desires. The living entity is not independent nor is the material nature. One should never think that he is independent. God is always the Supreme Controller of living entities and nature.

    Therefore, by remaining humble and respectful, we will recognize the grace of God when it manifests.
    While waiting patiently, and maintaining our faith that God resides in our heart as the protector and guardian of our well being, we will be relieved of all miseries of material existence. Everything material is actually spiritual because God is the creator of all things and life. He is sitting in everyone’s heart. Once we realize the closeness of God, we should surrender to His almighty power and accept His Words as our guiding principle in life. Then, He will give us the knowledge and remembrance to come back to Him eternally. If our desires are materially oriented, then He gives partial knowledge and remembrance and at crucial times, forgetfulness so that we will miss spiritual opportunities and stay anchored in the material world of illusory pleasures, hopes and false interpretations of events. Such false interpretations keep us chained to continual reactive work with little hope of liberation.

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  • There was and there wasn’t a poor man who worked for a fisherman. By working from early morning to late afternoon, he was able to earn six fish a day, He sold four and kept two to feed his wife and himself. It was a meager life, but he earned enough to live without begging.

    One day, the fisherman caught a colorful, small fish. He told his helper to put the fish away safely. The poor helper looked at the fish and began to reflect,

    “This young fish must be scared. It surely has feelings of sorrow and joy and love of family like us humans. How sad it is that we brutally catch such small creatures for our selfish needs.”

    The fish began to speak to the poor man with a human voice.

    “Brother Man, I was happily playing with my friends and forgot to be careful. The fisherman caught me in his net. My parents and young friends are certainly in anxiety, praying I am not caught by the cruel fisherman. But alas, I am out of the water, suffering and dying. Please have mercy on me. Throw me back into the cool, refreshing waters of the river so I can grow up for the pleasure of my parents.”
    The little fish gasped for its last breath.

    The poor man felt sorry for the little fish. He threw the fish back into the river and said,

    “Go my littler friend and play again with the other fish. I don’t want your anxious parents waiting in vain for you.”

    The fisherman, saw the poor man throw the fish back into the river, became upset.

    “I work so hard to catch the fish and you throw it back again into the water. I don’t want you to work for me anymore. Go away and never come back again.”

    The poor man returned home saddened and depressed. Deep in his thoughts of self pity, he was stopped by a human-like monster with a young cow. The poor man was frightened by the monster’s ugly mien.

    “Hello,” said the Monster. “Why are you looking so sad.”

    The poor man told his story. He was depressed because he did not know how he would earn a living. He was even more discouraged about telling his frail wife.

    “I might be able to help you,” said the Monster. “I will let you borrow my cow for three years. She will give you ample supply of nutritious milk everyday so that you and your wife never go hungry. There is
    one condition. After the three years are up, I will come and ask you some questions. If you can answer them, the cow will be yours for the keeping. If you cannot answer the questions, you and your wife will belong to me. I will do whatever I want with you. Will you accept my offer?”

    The poor man thought about his desperate condition. “I’ll take the cow, Sir,” he said. “My wife and I can live for three years and then we will see if I can answer your questions.” He took the cow and went back to his modest home.

    The three years passed quickly. The cow supplied plenty of milk as promised.

    The poor man and his sat were worried thinking that the Monster would soon arrive. They did not have the confidence that they would answer his questions. As the fateful day approached, they were
    in deep anxiety about their fate.

    One evening, a handsome youth approached their home. He knocked on the door. They were at first afraid he was the Monster. To their relief, he turned out to be a very gentle young man looking for a place to stay the night. They warned him, however, that something terrible might occur during the night. They told the young man, “We borrowed a wonderful cow from a Monster for three years. The three year period is over tonight. The Monster will come to our door and ask us questions. If we answer the questions correctly, the cow will belong to us and the Monster will go away. If we can’t answer the questions, the Monster will take us as his servant for the rest of our lives. You must not stay here so that no harm comes to you.”

    The youth insisted he would share their destiny saying, “Whatever happens to you, will happen to me too.”

    At midnight, there was a loud knock at the door. “Who is there,” said the poor man.

    It is me, the Monster. Three years are over, now you must answer my questions.”

    The poor man said to his wife, “I am afraid we will not be able to answer his questions.”

    The young man spoke to the couple, “Please don’t fret, I’ll answer the questions of the Monster.”
    He went to the door.

    The Monster getting impatient called out, “I am waiting for you.”

    The youth replied from behind the closed door, “And I am here ready to answer your questions.”

    The Monster said, “Where are you from?”

    “From over the Sea.”

    “How did you get here?”

    “Riding a lame flea.”

    “Then the Sea must have been very small.”

    “Not at all. Even an eagle couldn’t fly over it.”

    “Then the eagle must have been a fledgling.”

    “Not at all. The shadow of his wings covers a whole city!”

    “Then the city must be very small.”

    “Not at all. A hare couldn’t run from one end of it to another.”

    “Then that hare must be a very small one.”

    “Not at all. Its hide would be large enough to make a fur coat for a grown-up man, and a warm cap as well.”

    “Then the man must be a dwarf.”

    “Not at all. If a cock were to crow at his feet, the sound of the cock’s crowing would not reach the man’s ears, he is so tall.”

    “Then the man must be deaf.”

    “Not at all. He could hear a deer grazing on a blade of grass, far away in the mountains.”

    The Monster was confounded. He didn’t know what questions to ask ask. He stood at the door in silence, then disappeared into the dark night.

    The poor man and his wife were amazed.

    When dawn came, the young man prepared to leave.

    “Please stay with us,” said the couple. “You saved our lives. Let us serve you with hospitality and thank you.”

    “You don’t have to thank me. I must be on my way,” replied the young man.

    “Then please tell us who you are,” pleaded the poor man.

    “Do you remember the proverb, ‘Do good, and even if you throw it into the water, it will return to you one day?” I am that little talking fish that you showed kindness to and threw back into the river!”

    Before the couple had time to fully understand his words, he vanished.

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  • Once a pious Christian lived in a village near a deep forest. There was a nearby village of people who were superstitious. They worshiped a tree which they believed embodied a holy spirit capable of blessing or cursing them. To appease the spirit of the tree, the people made regular offerings to the tree of meat, wine, cloth, and other things. After the offerings were made, the remains were distributed to the poor. This practice attracted many people and the tree shrine became very popular.

    The pious man decided one day to cut down the tree that was attracting so many superstitious people. He became convinced that God would be pleased if he showed the pagans that their idol was merely a tree and nothing more. He would use the tree as firewood to further demonstrate the tree’s lack of holiness.

    One day the pious man woke up very early, took his sharp axe and began to walk toward the tree shrine determined to cut it down. As he neared the tree, a strange looking man crossed his path and asked,

    “Good morning sir, are you carrying an axe to cut down the holy tree?”

    The pious man was surprised by the stranger’s knowing question. He said,

    “I am going to cut down that tree to please God. I will show the ignorant people that their worship of the tree is superstitious. There is no spirit in the tree. It is all a fantasy.”

    The stranger said, “No, you cannot cut the tree down.”

    “Who are you to tell me I cannot cut the tree down? I am going to chop it down to please God. I will teach those ignorant people that their worship is inspired by the Devil and not pleasing to God,” said the pious man.

    The stranger replied, “I am the Devil. I will not let you cut the tree down>!”

    “You cannot stop me,” said the Christian. In the name of God Almighty, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I will kill you.” He knocked the Devil down and raised his axe to chop his head off.

    The Devil cautioned the Christian that he could not kill him because God had given him duration of life until the Judgment Day. He said,

    “I have the power to lead people astray from God’s path.”

    The Devil continued, “I can see you are a sincere believer, a man of honor who wants to help the people follow the right path. I know you earn a modest living and have a large family to feed. You should also consider that the ignorant villagers will become very upset when cut down the tree and they will probably gang up on you and kill you. What will happen to your family? Think carefully before you commit a rash act that will harm you and your family. Perhaps I can help make your life easier so you can do more to help people without endangering your life and family.”

    Why do you want to help me? You are the Devil. You will trick me and take me away from God’s work. You have been cheating and deceiving people since the beginning of time.” said the pious man.

    “God has given me power only to deceive the ignorant, not the true believers like yourself. In fact, I am a servant of God like yourself. When I see a person desiring to serve God sincerely, I want to help them do the good work. Think of your wife and children and how much they need you. I am ready to help you help others in a way that will also protect your family. I will place two gold coins under your pillow so that every morning, when you awaken, you will find them. Use these precious coins to feed your family and educate your children. There will be enough left over to help the poor so that they can also become believers like yourself,” said the Devil.

    “No, no, you are the Devil, the master of deceit, lies and mischief. How can I trust you to keep a promise,” said the pious man.

    The Devil replied, “I will not cheat such a pious man as yourself. You cannot losed anything by believing me. If I do cheat you, you will know right away because I promise you will find two gold coin under your pillow everyday. If this does not happen, you can go cut down the tree whenever you want.”

    The pious man accepted the logic of the Devil’s words. He gave up his mission of cutting down he tree and returned home. The next morning, he awoke and was pleasantly surprised to find two new gold coins under his pillow. He informed his wife that they would be happy and prosperous the rest of their lives. He said,

    “I met the Devil yesterday. He promised to give me two gold coins everyday so that we can live comfortably and also help the poor. He has kept his promise because this morning I found these two gold coins under my pillow.”

    His wife was perplexed. She said,

    “The Devil is evil. He will not help you serve God.”

    “I also thought the same way. But, after meeting him, I was impressed by his sensible words and sincere concern for my well being and that of our family. Let us spend these gold coins for our family and the poor. If he does not supply the gold coins, I will never believe him again and proceed with God’s work anyway,” said the pious husband.

    That day, they purchased every thing they needed to eat well and shared their new found opulence with their friends and the poor. Early the next day, the pious man looked under his pillow, but there were no gold coins. He searched everywhere in vain thinking perhaps the Devil might have placed the coins somewhere else.

    “The rogue has cheated me,” he said.

    The pious man grabbed his axe and hurried to chop down the tree, the Devil’s false idol, as well as chop off the Devil’s head. He was so angry that the Devil did not keep his promise to supply the two gold coins.

    The Devil appeared before the pious man and blocked his path. He said,

    “Where are you going?”

    “I should never have believed your lying words. I will chop your head off and that false idol of a tree,” said the irate man.

    The Devil opened his eyes wide and made a face of horror. He exhaled a foul breathe that pushed the pious man backwards and knocked him down with a fury. He said,

    “You dare to threaten me! I will kill you now as you wanted to kill me.”

    “No, please don’t. Spare me for the sake of my family. Please tell me. How is it that I was able to knock you down so easily and seemingly was capable of killing you so easily. But now, I feel so helpless and weak?”

    The Devil said with a wicked smile,

    “Two days ago, you were going to cut the tree down to serve God with no other motive than to please him. You were ready to kill me, too. Today, however, you were so angry and ready to kill me and cut the tree down because you didn’t receive two gold coins from me.”

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