David Neal Dubois The Monkey Story The Library

"Oh, great and wise Master, please tell me. What is the meaning of life?" the student asked.
The Master replied:
Long ago in the jungles of southern India, my son, there lived a bird.
The bird, while traveling through the jungle one day, came upon a single, shiny gold piece lying on the jungle floor, having been dropped there by a passing traveler.
The bird thought that the gold piece was so shiny and so pretty that he must have it. He swooped to the jungle floor and picked up the coin in his beak. But the gold slipped from his beak. The bird tried again to pick it up, and again it fell. He tried to pick it up in his powerful claws, but still it slipped from his grasp.
The gold piece lay on the ground.
The bird was frustrated, but determined that the gold piece should be his. So he flew to perch above the shiny trinket and there he stayed to guard his prize.
A time later, a monkey passed by. The monkey also saw the shiny, gold coin, and deciding he would like to have it for himself, he bent down and picked it up in his dexterous fingers. He held it firmly in his hand and continued on his journey.
The bird became angry. He flew down from his perch, screeching madly at the monkey.
"That shiny, gold coin belongs to me!" the bird squawked.
"Oh, I'm very sorry." the monkey apologized immediately. "I did not realize that the coin belonged to you, sir. It was not my intention to steal your coin. Please forgive me this most innocent error. Here, please take back the coin."
The monkey held out his hand to the bird so that the bird might reclaim his possession. The bird pecked the coin from his hand, but, as before, it fell to the ground. The bird tried to pick it up in his beak, but it fell again. He tried again to pick it up with his claws, but the coin slipped quietly to the ground.
The monkey observed, "You claim the coin is yours, yet you cannot carry it."
The bird felt this fact to be irrelevant. "I found the coin first. I have been guarding it. I own the coin. It is mine."
"Perhaps we can cooperate in this matter." suggested the monkey.
"In what way do you suggest?" asked the bird.
"You may continue to own the coin," the monkey began, the bird nodding, "while at the same time, I may have the coin." With that, the monkey picked up the coin, and carrying it firmly in his grasp, walked away into the jungle.
The Master became quiet.
The student was somewhat confused. "But what is the moral of this tale?" he asked.
The Master opened his eyes and looked at the student. "A blind man cannot have what he cannot hold."
They remained quiet for a while longer, while the student contemplated this, but the student remained confused. "A blind man? I don't understand, oh, great and wise Master. Your story made no mention of a blind man."
"Didn't I mention?" the Master laughed, "After this, the bird followed the monkey into the jungle and pecked his eyes out."
"Oh. I see." said the student, but he did not.

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This page last updated February 2, 1998.