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The Father

a retelling of a Buddhist parable

There was a man who lived in a small house in a small village. His wife had died giving birth to their first son, and as the boy grew up the man loved his son more than anything in the world.

One day while the father was away, plunderers came to the village. They kidnapped some of the villagers, including the son, and killed the rest. As they left town, they burned everything in sight.

When the man returned and saw the burned village, he looked through the corpses for his son. Finding one about the right size, he had the body cremated and put the ashes in a bag to carry with him always.

But many days later his son escaped from the kidnappers and made his way back to the village. He knocked on the door of the house that his father had rebuilt. His father asked who was knocking. "It's me, your son!" the son replied. But the father looked at the bag of ashes in his hand, and assumed some other boy was playing a trick. "Go away!" he shouted.

The boy continued knocking, pleading for his father to let him in, but the father grew more stubborn and demanded the boy go away. Finally the boy left and never came back.

And so it is with all of us. Whenever someone stubbornly holds on to their ideas as absolute and unmodifiable truth, they won't be able to open the door to the actual truth, even when it comes knocking.

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