WISDOM - WISE MEN
WISDOM - WISE MEN
SOS: SEARCHING OUT STORIES AND INFORMATION ABOUT WISDOM AND WISE MEN
Advice, Discussion and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)
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Story titles are in quotation marks.
To retell any stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Storytell posts are added as they are received by Story Lovers World.
1) Try Elisa Pearmain's site:
The Creator gathered all of Creation and said, "I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality."
The eagle said, "Give it to me, I will take it to the moon."
The Creator said, "No. One day they will go there and find it."
The salmon said, "I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean."
"No. They will go there, too."
The buffalo said, "I will bury it on the Great Plains."
The Creator said, "They will cut into the skin of the Earth and find it even there."
Grandmother Mole, who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes, said, "Put it inside of them."
And the Creator said, "It is done."
Mary Lee S. 9/30/05
3) "The Walnut Tree and the Philosopher"
Long time ago, when people didn’t know many things about nature and that included how to eat walnuts, a walnut tree grew by the road. It might have been planted there by someone for the benefit of other travelers or it could have grown there by chance, if you believe that anything in life can happen by chance.
One day a traveler passed by. He stopped by the old walnut tree to rest in its shade. Then he noticed the green fruits and tasted one of them only to spit it out in disgust with its bitterness.
Some time after he had gone another traveler passed by. He too sat under the tree and noticed the tooth marks on the fruit the first one had bitten.“This fruit must not be very tasty,” he thought. “But everything in this world has a purpose. It must be the hard heart that is to be eaten.” And he bit the hard shell but nearly broke a tooth in the process. He too walked away hungry.
Next came a traveler with a scholarly disposition. He studied the fruit carefully, first tasting the bitter skin, then scratching the hard shell until he came up with the idea to break the shell with a stone. That was rewarded with the tasty walnut. The scholar smiled contently: “Wisdom and patience conquer all,” he thought.
Soon a businessman leading a donkey laden with his goods arrived under the tree. The scholar happily shared with him his secret.The businessman thanked him and after they had eaten loaded the donkey with walnuts for sale. He let the scholar ride the donkey as a reward for his discovery while he himself walked and rubbed his palms in anticipation of his future profit.
They traveled in silence but soon darkness fell over the road. They were worried because there wasn’t a town or village to be seen and they were afraid to spend the night in the dark forest.Suddenly the merchant saw a faint light in the distance.
“There," he said. “I see a light!”
“But how can that faint light help us,” said the scholar. “It is so small and lonely while the forest is big, dark and threatening.”
While they were arguing, the light moved closer and they saw a man carrying a lantern. That man was a philosopher who lived in a hut by a lake nearby. He took the travelers to his place to spend the night. As they entered the dark room, the small lantern pushed the scary shades in the corners. Now the room looked bright and cozy.
The inventive travelers shared with him the secret of the walnut tree.
“Well done!” said the philosopher. “Tomorrow, I’ll go and pick up some of those wonderful fruits. Then I will travel all over the world and plant a walnut tree by all roads that I pass.”
“But, then who will buy the walnuts that I am trying to sell!” said the businessman, disappointed.
“Don’t worry,” answered the philosopher. “When more people taste the walnuts from the trees by the roads they will be more likely to buy them from you in the city marketplace.”
“But what will be your reward for your labor?” asked the businessman.
“And how exactly do you plan to do it?” asked the scholar. “I mean how many walnuts will you start with and where you will plant them. Where you will start your journey will you go East, West, North or South?”
“To tell you the truth, I don’t know,” answered the philosopher. “But as the light from my lantern is just enough for us to see the immediate road in front of us, my initial intention and desire will carry me perhaps to the next step on my way towards my humble goal. And if I meet someone else with a lantern, then together we will be able to see further.”
Thus they spent the night chatting leisurely until the sun rose over the dark forest and they went each on their way to find their own happiness.
We have free stories. Sample chapters and annotations of our books, an animated clip, links and more.
Alex G. 10/24/05
4) A story.
A rabbi listens to a dispute between two congregants.
The first makes his case.
"You're right," says the rabbi.
The second makes his case.
"You're right says the rabbi.
The rabbi's wife has been listening. She chimes in.
"They both can't be right."
"You're right says the rabbi."
Bob K. 10/25/05
a) How lovely to hear this story again. I heard it from Monsieur Sviadac, a secretary for UNESCO in Paris who heard if from a North African storyteller.. as a Nasruddin tale where the Mulla was invited to solve a long dispute between three feuding families. Each head of the family incanted the history of the dispute, ending with "And I am right." Afterwards, Nasruddin asked to judge who was telling the truth, said, "What is the problem if you are all right!"
Laura S. 10/25/05
b) And how wonderful to hear that it was told by someone working at the U.N. One wonders if, how, when, teaching stories, parables, etc, are shared at the United Nations. I'd like to imagine storyswaps there... regular meetings ..The General Assembly Storytelling Sessions...The Story Security Council. There are several old collections of folktales published I think by Unicef... Here's a project... a collection of the stories and parables that delegates etc. tell each other...perhaps with a little of their commentary and experience. Let's get started!
Bob K. 10/25/05
5) "The Magic Mirror of Rabbi Adam"
Rabbi Adam had a magic mirror that once belonged to King David. It permitted him to see things that took place all over the world. He watched over his fellow Jews in the mirror.
One day he saw that an innocent Jew in a certain city was in mortal danger. Rabbi Adam decided to help, mounted his horse and through a magic spell enabled the horse to fly so that they arrived in that city within an hour.
Rabbi Adam found the city overcrowded with people and animals. When he asked why, he was told that for two weeks of every year, merchants came from all corners of the land to sell their wares on "Market Days" and they lived all the year on what they made in those two weeks.
Rabbi Adam went to a tavern and predicted that the merchant sitting next to him would be killed in four hours. The merchant thought the rabbi to be mad and talking nonsense; his friends agreed and laughed. An hour later, the rabbi told the merchant he had only three hours left. Again, everyone laughed.
The merchant returned to the market; the rabbi followed and warned him that there were only two hours left. The merchant feared the rabbi himself would kill him and the next time the rabbi came, the merchant grabbed him, demanding to know who was going to kill him. The rabbi told him there was a plot to kill him and he had come to save him from the grave.
The merchant feared for his life and asked what to do. The rabbi told the merchant to follow him, which he did.They walked to an inn where the rabbi asked the innkeeper how much he earned in a day; the answer was 20 silver shekels. The rabbi gave the innkeeper 20 silver shekels and asked him to close the inn for the rest of the day, which was done. Rabbi Adam then requested that a bathtub be brought into the merchant's room and filled with water, and he then demanded that the merchant get into the tub, which he did.
The rabbi held up his magic mirror and asked the merchant to tell him what he saw. The terrified merchant said he saw his wife sitting with a sorcerer, eating, drinking, hugging and kissing by a table with a bow and arrow. Rabbi Adam revealed that they were plotting the merchant's death and the danger was great because of the sorcerer's evil powers. Further, the sorcerer was about to shoot an arrow from the bow that would guide it to the merchant's heart to kill him, after which his wife and sorcerer would marry, no one the wiser. But God would help the merchant stop this evil plan.
Upon a second look, the merchant saw the sorcerer prepare to shoot the arrow. He was instructed that as soon as the arrow was shot, he was to put his head under water in the bathtub and hold it there until the arrow passed by him without harm. He did so and when the hiss of the arrow passed by, the rabbi told the merchant to lift his head.
Once again the merchant looked in the magic mirror and saw his wife in a black mood and the sorcerer livid with rage. When the merchant saw the sorcerer shoot a second arrow, he did the same thing and was saved once more.
And again he saw the enraged sorcerer prepare to shoot another arrow. The rabbi instructed him to submerge himself into the water, but this time extend the little finger of your right hand out of the water. As the merchant did so, he felt a terrible pain in his finger, but he was still alive.
Another look in the mirror showed his wife and the sorcerer rejoicing because they believed him to be killed since the arrow hit his finger and had not passed through the inn.
Rabbi Adam allowed the merchant to get out of the water and get dressed, but warned him the danger was not over. He told the merchant that after the merchant days were over the next day and he returned to his city, he was not to go to his own house, but instead to the house of his relatives where he was to live in secret. In three weeks he was to go to the market and stay there until the sorcerer saw him. He was then to go up to the sorcerer and truthfully answer any question asked, including telling him about the rabbi. The rabbi instructed the merchant to inform the sorcerer that the rabbi was willing to test their powers against each other. The merchant was to set a time and place.
The merchant did as instructed and met the shocked sorcerer in the marketplace. The merchant revealed all that had happened with Rabbi Adam and the meeting between Rabbi Adam and the sorcerer was to take place in the sorcerer's home. The confident sorcerer invited all the nobles in the land to witness him defeat Rabbi Adam.
When the day came, the drunken nobles taunted the rabbi, who told them he did not perform magic, but trusted in God, whose powers had never failed him. The angered nobles urged the sorcerer to begin at once.
The sorcerer brought out an empty bowl which he filled with water, then passed his staff over it and the water disappeared. After everyone looked at the empty bowl, he passed his staff the other direction over it and the water returned.
Challenged to perform the same feat, the rabbi passed his hand over the water in the bowl and it disappeared, as everyone saw, but when he passed his hand over again, the bowl filled with wine.
The sorcerer turned pale with anger. He took a dove out of a cage and passed his staff over it, whereupon it collapsed and fell dead; when he reversed the move, the dove came back to life. The rabbi repeated the action, but when he returned the dove to life it flew around the room, landed on the table and laid an egg. A moment later, the egg hatched and a fledgling inside stretched its wings.
The sorcerer's face filled with bitter hatred. The sorcerer demanded that the rabbi leave the room while he performed his next wonder. The rabbi did so. The sorcerer turned his staff into a magnificent apple tree, then called Rabbi Adam in and challenged him to cause the tree to wither and become a staff once more.
Rabbi Adam demanded that the sorcerer leave the room this time, which he did. The rabbi circled the tree seven times, remarking on how good the apples looked and how pleasant the tree. He spied an apple at the top of the tree and asked the chief noble to cut it down. The noble did so and gave the apple to the rabbi. As soon as he did this, the tree began to wither, the leaves fell off, the branches withdrew, the trunk shriveled and became the staff once again. But the beautiful apple remained in the rabbi's hand, as ripe as ever.
Rabbi Adam commanded that the sorcerer be brought back into the room, but in the outer room, a noble found the sorcerer's body in one corner and his head in another. The rabbi explained that anyone who performed magic put his life at risk, for every wonder created contained one weakness, which could be the undoing of the person who had cast the spell. In this case, it was the apple at the top of the tree that was the one weakness. The nobles debated whether Rabbi Adam had committed a crime by bringing about the death of the sorcerer. They decided that the sorcerer himself was the cause of his own death, and the rabbi left the nobles in peace with great honors bestowed upon him.
The merchant thanked Rabbi Adam for saving his life, but the rabbi told him to give thanks to God, for all great miracles come from Him. The merchant divorced his wife and forced her out of his house. She fasted and prayed and over time repented and eventually returned to God with her whole heart.
God accepted her repentance, as He does with all sinners. But the evil sorcerer who sinned and led the woman into sin was lost and cut off from the earth for all time.
Source: Favorite Folktales from Around the World (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library), edited by Jane Yolen, Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library, Random House, 1986.
6) The story that I think has so much to do with the power of ideas is "The Wisest One of All," which you can find at http://www.storyteller.net/stories/text/12
Four wise men are challenged to a test to see which is the cleverest. They travel till they come to a pile of bones. First one has the idea to put the bones in order. The second has the idea to flesh out the bones. They can see that the bones are those of a tiger. The third has the idea to bring the tiger to life. The fourth pleads with them – saying its not a good idea, but they do not listen. Whilst the third wise man brings the tiger to life, the fourth has the idea to climb a tree. He returns to the village, the only one who survives the tiger and is deemed the wisest one of all.
I tell this story when I am speaking of global warming, environmental, nuclear, war themes. We need to know the nature of that to which we give life...
Donna J.S. Australia 11/27/09
Created 2003; last update 11/28/09
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