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The Parable of Ten Foolish Men


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Author Topic: The Parable of Ten Foolish Men  (Read 20 times)
nincompoop
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« on: Sep 18, 2014 03:36 pm »

I have been wanting to share this on this forum ever since I read it. I am just now getting around to it. So here it is. This is a parable that Ramana Maharshi told to someone who was visiting his ashram. I don't think the parable originated with Sri Ramana, but I have never heard it before. It is likely a South Indian parable from antiquity. Someone else can research it a little more if they are interested in where it comes from.

The Parable of Ten Foolish Men, told by Sri Ramana Maharshi


Questioner: Is not realization of one's absolute being, that is, Brahma Jnana, something quite unattainable for a layman like me?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Brahma Jnana is not a knowledge to be acquired, so that acquiring it one may obtain happiness. It is one's ignorant outlook that one should give up. The Self you seek to know is truly yourself. Your supposed ignorance causes you needless grief like the ten foolish men who grieved at the loss of the tenth man who was never lost.

The ten foolish men forded a stream and on reaching the other shore wanted to make sure that all of them had in fact safely safely crossed the stream. One of them began to count, but while counting the others left himself out. 'I see only nine. Sure enough, we have lost one. Who can it be?' he said. 'Did you count correctly?' asked another, and did the counting himself. But he too counted only nine. One after the other each of the ten men counted only nine, missing himself. 'We are only nine,' they all agreed, 'but who is the missing one?' they asked themselves. Every effort they made to discover the 'missing' individual failed.  'Whoever he is that is drowned,' said the most sentimental of the ten fools, 'we have lost him.' So saying he burst into tears, and the others followed suit.

Seeing them weeping on the river bank, a sympathetic wayfarer inquired about the cause. They related what had happened and said that even after counting themselves several times they could find no more than nine. On hearing the story, but seeing all the ten before him, the wayfarer guessed what had happened. In order to make them know for themselves that they were really ten, that all of them had survived the crossing, he told them, 'Let each of you count for himself but one after the other serially, one, two, three, and so on while I shall give you each a blow so that all of you may be sure of having been included in the count, and included only once. The tenth missing man will then be found.' Hearing this they rejoiced at the prospect of finding their 'lost' comrade and accepted the method suggested by the wayfarer.

While the kind wayfarer gave a blow to each of the ten in turn, he that got the blow counted himself aloud. 'Ten,' said the last man as he got the last blow in his turn. Bewildered they looked at one another, 'We are ten,' they said with one voice and thanked the wayfarer for having removed their grief.


That is the parable. From where was the tenth man brought in? Was he ever lost? By knowing that he had been there all the while, did they learn anything new? The cause of their grief was not the real lost of anyone, it was their own ignorance, or rather, their mere supposition that one of them was lost.

Such is the case with you. Truly there is no cause for you to be miserable and unhappy. You yourself impose limitations on your true nature of infinite being, and then weep that you are but a finite creature. Then you take up this or that spiritual practice to transcend the non-existent limitations. But if your spiritual practice itself assumes the existence of the limitations, how can it help you to transcend them?

Hence I say know that you are really the infinite pure being, the Self. You are always that Self and nothing but that Self. Therefore, you can never really be ignorant of the Self. Your ignorance is merely an imaginary ignorance, like the ignorance of the ten fools about the lost tenth man. It is this ignorance that caused them grief.

Know then that true knowledge does not create a new being for you, it only removes your ignorant ignorance. Bliss is not added to your nature, it is merely revealed as your true natural state, eternal and imperishable. The only way to be rid of your grief is to know and be the Self. How can this be unattainable?

taken from "BE AS YOU ARE: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi edited by David Godman
« Last Edit: Sep 18, 2014 03:45 pm by nincompoop » Report Spam   Logged

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