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Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • bahrgehst pahnmuh chee naiuhdz vohr kuhmaruh buhzdeek eh, ahveli
    ahrjehkahvor eh kahn hahzahr keelohnehr bughdzuhvadz pahnehr - a little bit of a pure thing is worth more than tons of impure things.

    For a person to be happy, he or she only needs a few very good things in their life such as true love, good nutritious food, enough money to live peacefully without debt, satisfaction with simple things in life, good friends, etc. A few good things or pure things is worth more than tons of impure things.

    My experience in life is that having a few very good things is much more satisfying than a collection of junk things. For example, I have noticed in my own life that eating highly nutritious food that is juicy, wholesome (organic brown rice, organic whole wheat flat bread, organic vegetables and fruits, organic raw milk and yogurt, organic herbs and spices, raw honey) are satisfying and a nutritional powerhouse that gradually diminishes the appetite for food. One eats less but is satisfied fully because the body gets all the nutritional minerals and vitamins and carbohydrates it needs for good health.
    One remains satisfied and healthy and mentally at peace because of avoiding all toxic foods and unnecessary violence such as causing the cruel death of animals when it is not necessary for sustenance.

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  • (This is another wonderful tale of Hovhaness Toumanian. It has a deep meaning and teachings that unravel as you read it. I will discuss what I think those meanings are. I think this is the first time this tale is translated into English from the original Armenian. I hope you enjoy it.)

    The geese keeper girl

    There was and there wasn’t a very old woman. This woman lived in a small cottage nestled in a thickly forested slope of a mountain. She kept a flock of geese as her loyal companions. She treated them like her own children. Her cottage was surrounded by an old growth forest. She lived in a lonely mountainous area as if isolated from civilization.

    Every day the old woman held fast to her walking stick. She habitually talked to herself as she walked through the dark forest. She went searching for green grass for her geese. She also picked wild fruits and anything that was eatable in her sight. She tied the herbs and fruits in a cloth that she shouldered on her back for the trek back to her cottage. Whoever saw the old woman gritting her teeth and struggling with the heavy weight of her bundle understood how difficult it was in her old age to eke out a meager subsistence. However, she always was able to make it back to her mountain cottage.

    If the old woman encountered a stranger on her path, she always offered a happy and warm greeting.

    “Good day, dear brother. God has blessed us with good weather today. Oh, don’t be so shocked that an old woman like me can carry such a heavy bundle. What can I do? Everyone must work hard for an honest living and tolerate the destiny God has allotted to them.”

    To tell the truth, no traveler in the forest wanted to encounter the old woman on the pathways. If they saw her in the distance, they would stray away from the pathway and remain hidden. If by chance a father and son passed her on a forest path, the father would stop his son and caution him: “You see this woman, stay far away from her. Yes, far away, she is a witch…”

    One morning, a handsome young man was wandering in the vicinity of the old woman’s wild picking haunts. The sun was hot and brilliantly shining. The birds were chirping to their heart’s content. Their was a pleasant breeze wafting through the forest and rustling the leaves to produce a soothing sound. The young man was enjoying the pleasant summer day in the mountain forest. He had not seen anyone meandering on the pathways of the forest that day. Then he espied a very old lady on her knees collecting forest greens and grass growing near the trees. Her apron was full of grasses and herbs and she was had two baskets full of forest fruits on the ground near her. She lifted the heavy burden on her back.

    “Granny, where are you going with such a heavy bundle?” asked the young man.

    “Whether I want to or not, I am forced to carry this bundle, my dear boy. What else can I do? The rich, of course, are not obliged to do such hard labor, but for the country folk like me it is said,

    ‘Do not look back or lament
    Your spine is crooked and bent’ ”

    The old woman was hunched over carrying her bundle and spoke without seeing the young man. When she approached him, he was standing on one side of the path and she caught a glimpse of his attractive features. She spoke,

    “Perhaps you might want to help me. You’re back is still straight and strong, your legs stout and steady. This bundle will be no match for your strength. My little cottage is in a small open area surrounded by the dense forest on this side of the mountain. With you’re help, we’ll quickly reach it.”

    “No problem”, he said, “My father is not a villager. I am the son of a wealthy king. I will still lift your heavy bundle. I’ll show you that villagers are not the only ones who can lift heavy bundles and carry them.”

    “Then come and lift this off my back. May you live long, my son. As the crow flies, we have about one hour’s journey. This will be a piece of cake for you. And don’t forget these two baskets of apples and pears.”

    When the young prince heard “one hour’s journey”, he began to hesitate. The old woman didn’t let him shirk away from the task. She heaved her load on his back, secured it with a tight belt and handed him the two baskets.

    “Can you feel how light it is”, she said.

    “”How can you say it is light”, pouted the prince. “Your bundle is so heavy, I think you put rocks in it. And your two baskets of apples and pears seem to be burdened with lead and are bearing down on my arms and legs…I am having difficulty breathing!”

    He tried to relieve himself of the unbearable load, but the old woman taunted him.

    “Just see, just see, I am an old, wizened woman who daily carries this same heavy bundle all alone. You are a young and nimble youth and you are hesitating already after a few seconds…it is always like this…..people like you make so many boastful claims of being hard workers, but when it comes time to really work, you backpedal with crybaby excuses. Why are you just standing there young man, start moving your feet forward. No one else is going to help you now.”

    They started on the trek. While on the straight and level pathways the young man was able to hold his own. But, when they started up the mountain, the path was strewn with rocks. As the prince stepped on rocks with the weight of the bundle on his shoulders, some of the rocks ricocheted from the edges of his boots. The prince felt he couldn’t continue any longer carrying such a heavy burden. His brow was full of beads of sweat, some hot and some cold dripped down his back.

    He said in a pleading voice:

    “Granny, I can’t go any further. I need to catch my breath and rest.”

    “No way,” answered the old woman. “When arrive at my cottage, you can rest all you want.. Who knows, maybe one day you will realize that something wonderful resulted from this day’s work…. Now, keep going.”

    “You really don’t have any pity, Granny,” said the prince whose temper began to heat up. He tried to slide the bundle off his back. But to no avail because the devilish old woman had tied it so tightly that it seemed to be part and parcel of his body as if he was born with it. The prince was not able to shake it off his back. He almost lost his balance. The old woman mocked him while poking the bundle from one side and the other to keep it steady on the prince’s back.

    She said: “Why are you getting so riled up my dear boy? You’re all red like a turkey. Just carry the bundle and don’t make any waves. When we arrive at my cottage, I am going to reward you so handsomely, you’ll be amazed.”

    What could the young prince do? Whether he wanted to or not, he had to resign himself to his fate and follow the old woman come hell or high water.

    The more they climbed the difficult mountain paths, the more the old woman quickened the pace. It seemed as if the bundle became heavier and heavier for the prince. As if the prince’s troubles were not enough, the old woman stepped up on a large rock and suddenly jumped on the shoulders of the prince. She firmly crossed her legs on his chest.. On the ground, the old woman looked like a gaunt wisp. But, she felt more heavy than a stout peasant women perched on his shoulders.

    The prince’s legs began to shiver. To add insult to injury, the old woman repeatedly whipped the prince’s boots with a bunch of long stalks of nettles. The exhausted prince huffed and puffed and groaned with pangs of agony as he mounted the steep trail. Finally, he reached the old woman’s cottage where he collapsed on the ground as if he was about to give up his ghost.

    When the geese saw the old woman, they started to excitedly flap their wings and stretch their long necks. They ran toward her making a loud crescendo of honks that echoed through the loneliness of the secluded mountain. The geese were happy. Another old woman followed the geese. She was tall and heavy set and walked with a branch of a tree for a cane. She had an eerie look about her and appeared to have an unnatural ugliness suggesting a strange fate. She said:

    “We were worried about you, mother dear. Why are you so late? Did something happen?”

    “Nothing at all, my dear girl”, said the granny. “I didn’t have any problem. On the contrary, I met this young gentleman on the forest trails. He was so kind to shoulder my heavy bundle and baskets and bring them here for me. And what’s more, when I got tired, he insisted that I mount his shoulders so that he could relieve my fatigue by straddling him. I know it wasn’t easy for him. The trek seemed to pass so fast that we hardly noticed the time passing. We were telling jokes and laughing so much. It was so much fun.”

    The old woman impishly stood up from squatting on the exhausted prince’s shoulders. She loosened the ties holding the bundle on the prince’s back and removed it. She took the baskets from his hands and spoke to him in a motherly tone of affection.

    “Now you sit here on these door steps and rest up, my dear boy. You deserve a precious reward for you hard work. I am going to give you a gift you’ll never forget.”

    She looked at the other woman. “You go in the house sweetie. You are standing too near this young man. It is not proper. You don’t throw butter on a fire. The young man might fall in love with you.”

    When the prince heard the old woman’s words, he was not sure whether he should laugh derisively or cry. He thought to himself:

    “Oh yes, my pretty wench, even if you were thirty years younger, you would still leave my heart cold and somber. What to speak of now!”

    Meanwhile the granny turned her attention to caressing and taking care of her geese as if they were her children. Then she and the other woman stepped into the cottage.

    The prince was exhausted. He found an old bench under the shade of wild apple trees and dropped down on it. The air was warm and scented with the fragrance of wild flowers. On all sides of the shaded grove were beautiful meadows in full bloom with yellow and blue wild flowers. Running through the meadow was a limpid stream glittering like bright silver under the brilliant sun. The pure white geese waded back and forth in the stream.

    The prince exclaims to himself: “What a beautiful place. But I am so tired my eyes are tearing. Let me close my eyes and rest a little. But I feel so light-headed that I fear the wind will carry me off like a feather. I feel so bereft of strength so much so that I feel like strands of weightless cotton.”

    He slept for a short while until the granny came and shook him to wake up. She said:

    “Get up! It is not possible for you to stay here. It’s true that I troubled you greatly by carrying my heavy bundle and baskets. But you made it here and you’re still alive. I’m going to reward you. I won’t give you some money or other precious treasure because you don’t need money or treasure. I’ll give you something that is worth much more than money or treasure.”

    With those words, she handed him a small box made entirely of precious pearls.

    “Take this and keep it like you would the very light of your eyes. It will bestow upon you continual happiness.”

    Suddenly, the young prince felt a lively surge of energy. He stood up refreshed and accepted the box. He thanked the granny and began his trek back home without even a thought of the woman staying with the granny. He hurriedly went down the mountain a considerable way but he could still hear the happy honking of the geese.

    The prince wandered the pathways of the mountain forests for three days until he was able to find his way to a large town. He had never been there before. He walked through the town a total stranger. The townsfolk, learning of his royal lineage, took him to their king’s palace. When the prince entered the throne room, the prince fell to his knees and offered his respects to the king and queen. He took the pearl studded small box out of his pocket and placed it at the feet of the queen. The queen ordered him to stand up and hand the precious gift box to her. She opened the box and looked inside. Immediately, tears flowed from her eyes. She swooned and fainted. The guards grabbed the prince and began to hustle him to the palace jail. The queen was revived by her attendants. She gathered her wits and ordered the guards to let the prince free and instructed them to leave the throne room so that she could speak to him alone.

    The three were now alone. The queen began to cry again. She spoke to the prince and weeped intermittently at the same time.

    “What good is all my opulence and glory, when every morning I wake up with tears and every night I go to sleep with tears. I had three girls. My youngest was so sweet. Whoever saw her said she wasn’t just a girl, but a miraculous creature of beauty and grace. Her beautiful face was a mixture of pure white snow and the delicate rosy color of spring apple blossoms. Her cheeks and hair glistened like the rays of the sun. When her eyes shed tears, they seemed like a stream of precious pearls. When the youngest was fifteen, her royal father summoned all three sisters to appear before him. It was an amazing sight. Everyone looked on with enchanted eyes when my youngest entered the room. Her charm and beauty was so alluring, it seemed as if the sun just rose in the horizon.

    “My dear children,” said the King, “I don’t know when I will reach my last breath. For this reason I want to decide this very day how to portion off my kingdom to each of you after my death. I know you love me very much. I want, however, to hear which one of you loves me the most. The one who loves me the most will get the largest part of my kingdom. Now tell me how much each of you loves me so that I can measure how great is your love. The oldest daughter said:

    “I love you as much as the sweetest sugar in this world.” The second said:

    “I love you as much as my most favorite dress.” The youngest remained silent.

    “And you, my most dear youngest daughter. How much do you love me?”, said the king.

    “I don’t know father.”, said the girl. “I can’t compare my love for you to anything I know.”

    The king insisted that his youngest daughter make a statement. The girl felt obliged to say something.

    “The best food has no real taste for me without a sprinkling of salt. I love you like salt in my food.”

    When the king heard the girl’s answer, he was seized by a rash feeling of rage. He railed at her.

    “So it is like that….if you like me as much as salt, then I will leave you an inheritance of salt.”

    “Later, the king divided his kingdom among his two older daughters. He ordered that the youngest receive a belt laden with a bag of salt. He ordered two servants to accompany her to a remote dense forest area and abandon her. I and all the others begged, pleaded, implored the king to relent from such a harsh decision. But it was to no avail. We could not soften the king’s wrath.”

    “Oh, if you could only have seen how much we wailed when she was forced to leave. Her tears fell like rain from her eyes. Each tear became a pearl that glistened like fresh dew on a blade of grass. Soon after her departure, the king began to feel remorse due to his hard-hearted decision. His anger subsided and gave way to compassion. He became conscientious of his wrong decision. He ordered his soldiers to search everywhere possible to find our unfortunate child. But no one was able to find her.

    Whenever my mind thinks of my poor child’s fate, I imagine she might have been eaten by predator animals. The pain of such thoughts drives me into a forlorn frenzy. I lose my self composure by feeling so pained and disturbed. I get disoriented and feel devastated. Sometimes my attendants console me with glimmers of hope that my child might still be alive by remaining hidden in a cave or perhaps she had found refuge with kind-hearted people who are sheltering her.

    But, when I opened your little pearl-studded box, I was shocked to see the same tear-shaped pearls that fell from my child’s eyes as she left crying that fateful day. You have to tell me where you laid hands on this little box.”

    The young prince recounted his story. He explained how a very old granny gave him this emerald studded box. He was sure the old lady was a witch. He told her how much the old witch made him work so hard and suffer. But, he assured her, he did not see such a beautiful young girl, nor did he hear anything about her.

    The king and queen decided that whatever may come of it, they must find the old witch. They were convinced that whoever had possession of these tear-like pearls would have some information about the whereabouts of their daughter.

    Let’s leave the king and queen and the young prince commence their journey of discovery. Let us go back to the old woman and her daughter in their lonely mountain cottage.

    The old woman was alone in the deep silence of her forest cottage. She was using her spindle to spin thread. Night had already fallen. The logs of pine in the fireplace were reduced to cinders and about to go out. Outside, there was a commotion and loud noises. The geese were returning to the cottage from foraging. She could hear their cacophony of deafening honking sounds.

    The old woman’s daughter entered the house. The granny motioned to her with a slight movement of her head to come close to her. The daughter sat close to her mother. She took up the spindle and started to spin more thread. She was zippy at it just like a young girl. For two quiet hours the two sat close to each other without talking as if their tongues were tied. A murmuring sound from outside the window broke the silence. They both looked up and saw two fiery eyes peering at them. It was an old owl that hauntingly called out three times phou-poul, phou-poul, phou-poul and disappeared in the dark night.

    The granny looked at her daughter and said: “Its time now my daughter, go and do what you have to do.”

    Without a peep the daughter went out into the darkness of the forest. She walked through the eerie night quite a distance until she reached a secluded glen. She went straight to a well where there were three oak trees on one side. Once out of the dense forest, there was a full moon appearing over the mountain tops that lighted the darkness so much that if a pin was lost you would see it shining on the ground. Under the silvery light of the moon, the woman took off her course frock, wet it and began to pound it against the rock wall of a well as she washed it. She rinsed and squeeze dried the frock. She spread it to dry under the white light of the full moon. At the same time, the clumsy woman mysteriously transformed from an ugly old woman into a young woman of unimaginable beauty. She stood in the bright moonlight with her beauty that could be described as never seen before and not comparable to anyone else. A man beholding such a beauty would be dumbstruck and incapable of eating, drinking, or anything else but just gaze at her other-worldly charm.

    Her white hair fell down as if a wig and under it was revealed brilliant golden blond hair that descended to her sides like a bundle of sun rays falling from the heavens that engulfed her body. Her eyes twinkled like twin stars through her hair strands and her cheeks were pink like the spring flowers of an apple tree.

    She still was sad, so sad. She fell to the ground and began to shed hot tears of grief. Her tears flowed one after the other wetting the ground. She cried so much that she would have stayed immobile for a very long time had she not heard the rustling of the leaves close by and the crackling sound of a broken branch. She jumped up frightened like a deer that just heard a gunshot. Quickly she put on her mysterious old frock and in one second she disappeared as if she never existed like blowing out a candle so that the darkness envelops everything. She was frightened by the sound so much that she shivered with fear all the way back to the granny’s cottage. She saw the old woman waiting for her at the door of the cottage. She was about to explain what happened when the old woman softly said:

    “Don’t fret my dearest, I understand everything.” She took her hand and led her into the cottage.

    The granny lit the fire. She left off spinning her thread and took up a broom and started to sweep the cottage. She said:

    “Everything has to be orderly and clean.”

    “Mother, why do you have to clean the house at this late hour? Are you expecting guests? What’s happening?”

    “My dearest, don’t you know that your time has come?”, asked the old woman.
    “The night is not even half over, you need to get ready before the sunrise. Didn’t it occur to you that it is exactly three years to the day that you came to me. When this night is over, it will not be possible to ever live together.”

    The daughter became pale. She asked:

    “Mommy, do you want me to leave your home? Where will I go? I don’t have any friends. I have no where to go. Whatever you say, I will do. I have always tried my best to please you. Why are you throwing me to the dogs?”

    The old woman did not want to reveal all that she knew would come to pass so she changed the subject.

    “I also do not want to live in this cottage any longer. I want to go far away from this lonely place, but I can’t leave it looking like a mess. Leave me in peace to clean it. Please do not fret anymore. You are going to return to your father’s hearth and you will be pleasantly surprised by the gift I will give you.”

    “But, mommy, tell me what is going to happen to me.”

    “I’ll tell you for the last time, do not disturb me. Let me sweep and clean. Go to your room without any more words. Take that old frock off and put on your lovely silk dress that you wore when you first came here. Wear that and wait in your room until I call you.”

    Now let us find out about the king and queen. They engaged the young prince to help them locate the old woman. Finding the secluded cottage in the deep mountain forest was not so easy. At one point, the young prince fell behind the king and queen’s party. He continued alone. The next day, the prince realized he had strayed from the right trail. He walked the entire day. As night fell, he climbed a tree to pass the night until the next morning. During the night, he noticed an old woman walking down the mountain under the white rays on the full moon. He recognized her as the ugly woman who lived with the old granny in the mountain forest. He had seen her feeding the granny’s geese and leading them with a walking stick. She was strangely alone on this full moon night without her stick or the geese.

    “What luck,” he thought to himself. “I am seeing this one now. If I can keep my eye on her, I’ll soon find the old granny too.”

    But he was in for the shock of his life. The strange woman approached a well. She took off her old frock and began to wash it. He was amazed to see that she had golden hair that fell to her shoulders. Now he could see her bewitchingly gorgeous beauty. He couldn’t believe his eyes. She was more beautiful than any woman he had ever seen or even heard of. He held his breath and poked his head through the tree branches with his eyes bulging in silent admiration of the girl’s stunning looks and body. He pressed his head forward to see her better when he accidentally broke a branch of the tree with a crackling sound. The girl heard the sound and grabbed her frock and put in on in haste. She ran off like a frightened deer as fast as she could into the dense forest.

    The girl made haste back to the granny’s cottage. The prince jumped down from the tree and followed her. He followed her for a distance. He espied two moving shadow-like forms in the forest. It was the king and queen. He joined them and they continued their search together for the granny’s cottage. They saw the granny’s outdoor flaming torch light through the thick forest. They used the torch’s light to guide their walk through the forest toward the cottage. The prince described the amazing sight he had of the granny’s daughter near the forest well. In his words, what he saw was a miracle. He was absolutely sure that the woman he saw earlier in the forest was the king and queen’s lost daughter. They continued toward the torch light and finally reached the granny’s cottage. They saw the large flock of geese standing all over the yard of the cottage. Their heads were buried under the soft feathers of their wings in deep sleep. Not one of the geese made a noise or moved at all.

    The three looked stealthily through the window.
    They could see the granny sitting and spinning thread on her spindle.

    They noticed how impeccably clean and orderly the cottage was. It was as if it was clean enough for angelic spirits of the forest to be dwelling there. Such spirits know neither dirt nor dust in their immaculate lives. They saw everything but their dear daughter. She wasn’t there. They tried to hear any noise or notice any sign that would give them hope. After a while they mustered up the courage and tapped on the window. The granny appeared to be waiting for them. Hearing their tapping on the window, she got up quickly and called out in a sweet voice.

    “Come in, come in, I know who you are.”

    All three entered the small cottage.

    The granny said, “May the king live a long life. You were not meant to make such a long and difficult journey today. If only you didn’t throw your daughter out under such cruel and unjust pretexts three years ago. She is a sweet and virtuous innocent girl. I can’t understand why you did it. But I must tell you that she has been spared any stain on her purity these last three years. I gave her the responsibility to care for my geese, feed them and keep her eye on them so that they avoid any harm. I can promise you that she has not learned anything bad. Her heart and soul have been spared of any unsavory influence and she has remained pure. But you have received your well earned punishment by living in continual fear and anxiety for her safety during her three year absence.

    The granny sidled close to the bedroom door and called out: “Please come out now, my dear girl.”

    The door opened and the stunning girl appeared in her golden silk dress. Her golden blond hair fell down her shoulders to her lower back. Her eyes were shining like bright stars. She seemed like a heavenly angel that had miraculously descended on this earth.

    She came running out and wrapped her arms around her mother and father’s necks. She began to kiss them. The king and queen were so overwhelmed with joy that they shed tears. The young prince looked on as a stunned bystander. The girl noticed the prince and began to blush rosy pink and red like a fresh rose in bloom. The king spoke:

    “My precious daughter, what can I give you now. I have already divided my kingdom and gifted it to your sisters.”

    The granny spoke on behalf of the princess. “She doesn’t need anything from you. I have gifted her the ability to cry tears that are more precious than the most costly pearls extracted from the oceans. They are so valuable that they make the wealth of your entire kingdom pale in comparison. Further, in return for the humble and sincere service she rendered me these three years, I am giving her my humble cottage in this forest.”

    As soon as she finished her benevolent words, the granny mysteriously disappeared. The others experienced an incredible event. The walls of the little cottage began to squeak as they expanded and transformed. The humble cottage became an opulent palace with a banquet hall garnished with delectable food and numerous servants quickly walking here and there attending to every need of the king and queen and other guests. There were also beautiful young ladies dressed in pearly white gowns standing in attendance around the king and queen, the prince and the princess.

    It became more than apparent that the granny was not an evil witch, but a genuinely pure-hearted well-wisher. She blessed the king’s daughter with the power to cry tears that turned into precious pearls. This guaranteed that she would weather through her days of adversity and need. The granny also saved many other young girls who were the subject of cruel destiny. She turned them into white geese so that no unscrupulous men disturb them. Now they were again transformed back to their original beautiful youthful human forms. She also arranged for the young and handsome prince to meet the innocent and pure princess who suffered such injustice from her father.

    After the revelation of all these amazing happenings, the prince and princess were married. They lived happily. The princess forgot about all the suffering of her earlier dark days. They lived together joyfully and in peaceful harmony in the splendid palace that was formerly a humble cottage in the dense mountain forest.

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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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