Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Leo Tolstoy's Three Questions


Thought For Today: Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy.

The hermit lived in a wood and he received none but common folk. So the King put on simple clothes, and before reaching the hermit's cell dismounted from his horse, and, leaving his bodyguard behind, went on alone.
When the King approached, the hermit was digging the ground in front of his hut. Seeing the King, he greeted him and went on digging. The hermit was frail and weak, and each time he stuck his spade into the ground and turned a little earth, he breathed heavily.
The King went up to him and said: 'I have come to you, wise hermit, to ask you to answer three questions: How can I learn to do the right thing at the right time? Who are the people I most need, and to whom should I, therefore, pay more attention than to the rest? And, what affairs are the most important and need my first attention?'
The hermit listened to the King, but answered nothing. He just spat on his hand and recommenced digging.
'You are tired,' said the King, 'let me take the spade and work awhile for you.'
'Thanks!' said the hermit, and, giving the spade to the King, he sat down on the ground.
When he had dug two beds, the King stopped and repeated his questions. The hermit again gave no answer, but rose, stretched out his hand for the spade, and said:
'Now rest awhile -- and let me work a bit.'
But the King did not give him the spade, and continued to dig. One hour passed, and another. The sun began to sink behind the trees, and the King at last stuck the spade into the ground, and said:
'I came to you, wise man, for an answer to my questions. If you can give me none, tell me so, and I will return home.'
'Here comes some one running,' said the hermit, 'let us see who it is.'
The King turned round, and saw a bearded man come running out of the wood. The man held his hands pressed against his stomach, and blood was flowing from under them. When he reached the King, he fell fainting on the ground moaning feebly. The King and the hermit unfastened the man's clothing. There was a large wound in his stomach. The King washed it as best he could, and bandaged it with his handkerchief and with a towel the hermit had. But the blood would not stop flowing, and the King again and again removed the bandage soaked with warm blood, and washed and re bandaged the wound. When at last the blood ceased flowing, the man revived and asked for something to drink. The King brought fresh water and gave it to him. Meanwhile the sun had set, and it had become cool. So the King, with the hermit's help, carried the wounded man into the hut and laid him on the bed. Lying on the bed the man closed his eyes and was quiet; but the King was so tired with his walk and with the work he had done, that he crouched down on the threshold, and also fell asleep -- so soundly that he slept all through the short summer night. When he awoke in the morning, it was long before he could remember where he was, or who was the strange bearded man lying on the bed and gazing intently at him with shining eyes.
'Forgive me!' said the bearded man in a weak voice, when he saw that the King was awake and was looking at him.
'I do not know you, and have nothing to forgive you for,' said the King.
'You do not know me, but I know you. I am that enemy of yours who swore to revenge himself on you, because you executed his brother and seized his property. I knew you had gone alone to see the hermit, and I resolved to kill you on your way back. But the day passed and you did not return. So I came out from my ambush to find you, and I came upon your bodyguard, and they recognized me, and wounded me. I escaped from them, but should have bled to death had you not dressed my wound. I wished to kill you, and you have saved my life. Now, if I live, and if you wish it, I will serve you as your most faithful slave, and will bid my sons do the same. Forgive me!'
The King was very glad to have made peace with his enemy so easily, and to have gained him for a friend, and he not only forgave him, but said he would send his servants and his own physician to attend him, and promised to restore his property.
Having taken leave of the wounded man, the King went out into the porch and looked around for the hermit. Before going away he wished once more to beg an answer to the questions he had put. The hermit was outside, on his knees, sowing seeds in the beds that had been dug the day before.
The King approached him, and said:
'For the last time, I pray you to answer my questions, wise man.'
'You have already been answered!' said the hermit still crouching on his thin legs, and looking up at the King, who stood before him.
'How answered? What do you mean?' asked the King.
'Do you not see,' replied the hermit. 'If you had not pitied my weakness yesterday, and had not dug these beds for me, but had gone your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have repented of not having stayed with me. So the most important time was when you were digging the beds; and I was the most important man; and to do me good was your most important business. Afterwards, when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him, for if you had not bound up his wounds he would have died without having made peace with you. So he was the most important man, and what you did for him was your most important business. Remember then: there is only one time that is important -- Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!

Have a sunny day. Fine Art and Jewelry.

11 comments:

Natalie Galitzine said...

Being a russian, it is somewhat ironic that I read this Leo Tolstoy's story for the first time on your blog! Thank you :o) I cannot stop admiring your beautiful blog, - there is so much positive energy in it (as well as aesthetic beauties)!

Best wishes,
Natalie

Reg Fife said...

Wow, what a story! Definitely some food for thought.

Laura Winslow Godsil said...

Thanks for your comment Reg.
And a thankyou to Natalie - Tolstoy was an amazing person - what a life.

Craft Junkie said...

I am in awe. What a wonderful story with quite the food for thought. And Tolstoy, no less!

Lea said...

Very nice. I will be thinking about it for quite a while.

Also, your jewelry is just lovely. Do you create the settings yourself? I haven't attempted that part of jewelry making yet.

HEALTH NUT WANNABEE MOM said...

Amazing and full of perfect sense. I really enjoyed this and am printing it out to share with my husband. thanks

Laura Winslow Godsil said...

Thankyou Heidi for your continued support. Hope your husband enjoyed the story.

And thanks to craft junkie and Lea for their comment.To answer Lea's question - no I haven't tried that yet either.

Michelle Gartner said...

Absolutely live in the present. i remember awhile back I was not very content and I always thought if this happened, if I had this, etc I would be happier. I have learned more to be content in the moment. Not perfect, but much better- then always wishing for something better that may never come.

The pure elegance necklace next to the post is darling....

Laura Winslow Godsil said...

Thank you Michelle for your testimonial.Continued success and have a sunny day.

SuzyQ said...

I just love Tolstoy.
What wisdom there.
THankyou so much for sharing this.
I would love to add your blog to my blogroll if that's okay :0)
Have a wonderful day :0)

Laura Winslow Godsil said...

Thanks Suzyq for your comment. I'd love to be on your blog roll.I'll go add you to mine right now.