When seeking knowledge in a remote area of Malaysia, I came across a man of sage advice. He informed me of the futility of knowledge.
The man was perched in a precarious spot within a mountain where I was seeking this knowledge. He told me he had been there many years, but few pass by these days. He further informed that even fewer seek his advice anymore.
“The world has changed”, he started. “People rely more on the internet or their own counsel. I sit here alone most days, with all my thoughts and experiences.”
This man certainly caught my attention! Who was he? Where did he come from? Doesn’t he get leg cramps just sitting there all day? These were the thoughts in my head. But I could tell by his stature, he was a man I should heed. So I listened intently.
I told him I was on a quest for knowledge. I thought perhaps in these ancient mountains of Malaysia, where few venture, I could find what I sought. With that request, the old man sighed a deep breath, and educated me on the important thing in life.
“All men seek what you want,” he said. “But it is a fool’s quest. What will you do with knowledge? Will you build a bridge? Will you find a cure for cancer? Will you solve works hunger? No! You can do none of these things with knowledge.”
What? Why did he say this? What does he know that others do not? He spoke with such authority on the subject, I knew I must heed his words.
“Knowledge is for the fool”, he continued. “It only serves to puff up the ego of he who seeks and attains. People with knowledge never know how to properly adjudicate its worth. Therefore knowledge is folly by itself. That which you should seek is wisdom, to properly discern the knowledge you already possess.”
But how, I inquired? I know how to seek knowledge, but how do I find wisdom? It’s not like it grows on trees, does it?
But he anticipated my question before I could articulate it. “There lies deep below this mountain that thing you should seek. I left it there long ago, in anticipation of a traveler’s visit. One who might hear my words and heed my advice. If you dare seek it, and pass the test, the gift is yours.”
With those words he mysteriously vanished. Leaving me with no clues, only a vague instruction of that which I should seek.
I was eager to know the mystery he knew, and thus began the journey to seek the gift of the magi.
He told me it lie beneath the mountain, so I descended.
I found an entryway at the foot of the mountain and I proceeded into the bowels of the enigma.
The way was dimly lit, but enough that I could see.
But what of the test? He mentioned a test? But I didn’t bring a pen or a calculator! How could I take a test down here. I mean, the nearest Walmart must be 8,000 miles away!
Then before me lie a barrier. Was this a dead end? What ruse had this clever sage devised? I’m sure he sat on his perch again laughing at the fool he played me for!
But suddenly I noticed a delicious blueberry muffin before me. Where did that come from? Why was it there? These were the queries within my head. Then I noticed a sign above the muffin asking, “Another hungry wanderer comes after you. What will you do?”
Ah! The test! This is what the ancient one referred to. What should I do? I was hungry after this arduous journey. Perhaps I should cut it in half? Half for me and half for the one who follows? Seems fair to me. But is it wise?
I then cast my memory to the wisest man known to man, Solomon. His wisdom would say to keep the muffin intact and leave it all for the stranger behind. Hmm.. such a dilemma!
Suddenly my greed and hunger overtook me and i devoured the muffin in a single bite. Nothing left for the stranger behind.
With that the great mountain began to rumble! Was it an earthquake? I didn’t know but the rocks began to tumble around me. I was suddenly in great danger. I knew I could not survive the journey back among the falling rocks below the mountain, so I huddled and waited for my end fate.
Then I noticed a crack within the barrier ahead. Slowly it opened as the quake intensified. Miraculously I had not been struck yet by these boulders descending. I rushed to the opening and squeezed my fat belly through to the other side.
Now, nothing but calmness. It’s as if the mountain was welcoming me with its serenity. And then I saw the sign ahead:
I knew the object of my seeking was near now. I ran but only a short distance and there it lie, the Pillar of Wisdom:
I reached for it with both hands to feel the wisdom for myself. A vibrant rush filled my body. I knew I was being filled with all the wisdom this world possessed. But then I blacked out.
When I came to I found myself perched in the crevice of the mountain where once the pious sage sat. I tried to get up, but I could not! It’s as if my butt was attached to the mountain! I was stuck there!
Then I realized this crafty, wise magician had tricked me. I possessed all the wisdom of the world but it could not leave this mountain. And now I replaced the wizard and he was free to roam! The wisdom remained behind.
I knew then the trickster was not completely honest with me. Sometimes knowledge is better than wisdom. If I had the knowledge of what was to come, I would have told him to keep his wisdom and his butt on this mountain forever. But now, as wise as I am, I’m doomed to a life of stationary, sage counsel.
Anyone want some wisdom? Come see me! I have a secret to tell you that lies below this mountain.