Spirituality

Recognise Your Value: the Parable of the Stonecutter

There was once a stonecutter who was dissatisfied with himself and his position in life. One day, he passed a wealthy merchant’s house and through the open gateway saw many fine possessions and important visitors.

“How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stonecutter.

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A happy stone cutter

He became envious and wished he could be like the merchant with his big house, wealth and importance. He wouldn’t have to live the life of a mere stonecutter.

Then, to his great surprise, he became the merchant. He enjoyed more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, and became envied and hated by those less wealthy than himself. But then a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession – even him.

“How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish I could be a high official.”

Then he became the high official. He was carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by everyone who had to bow before him. On a hot day in summer, the official began to feel uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence.

“How powerful the sun is!” he thought. “I wish I could be the sun!”

Then (you know what’s coming) he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, rich or poor, scorching the fields. But then a huge black cloud drifted between him and the earth so his light could no longer shine on everything below.

“How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish I could be a cloud!”

And so he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But then he noticed he was being pushed away by a great force. The wind was moving the cloud.

“How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish I could be the wind!”

Then he became the wind. He blew tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooted trees and was hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that wouldn’t move no matter how forcefully he blew. A huge, towering stone.

“How powerful that stone is!” he thought. “I wish I could be a stone!”

Finally, he became the stone. He was more powerful than anything else on the earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock and felt himself being changed.

“What could be more powerful than I, the stone?” he thought.

He looked down and saw, far below him, the figure of a stonecutter.

Image: Stone cutter

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