The warm pebble

1001 Tales Discourses

“Trust is a touchstone… One day you come across a real touchstone. You pick it up, it is warm, but still you throw it,” states Osho.

Pebbles

There is a story that when the great library of Alexandria was burned, one book was saved. But it was not a valuable book, and so a poor man, who could read a little, bought it for a few coppers. It was not very interesting, yet there was a most interesting thing in it. It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the “touchstone”.

The touchstone was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was on the shores of the Black Sea lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles which looked exactly like it. But the secret was this: the real stone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold. So the man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing the pebbles.

This was his plan: he knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebbles hundreds of times. So when he felt one that was cold he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this, and they were none of them the touchstone. Then he spent a week, a month, a year, three years… but he did not find the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way: pick up a pebble, it’s cold, throw it into the sea… and so on and so on. Just visualize the man doing it for years and years and years – pick up a pebble, it is cold, throw it into the sea… from morning to evening, for years and years.

But one morning he picked up a pebble and it was warm – and he threw it into the sea. He had formed the habit of throwing them into the sea, you understand, and habit made him do it when at last he found the touchstone, poor fellow.

That’s how mind functions. Trust is a touchstone. Very rarely do you find a man in whom you can trust. Very rarely do you find a heart who is warm, loving, in whom you can trust. Ordinarily you find pebbles which look like the touchstone, almost alike, but all are cold. Year in, year out, from the very childhood: you pick up a pebble, you feel it, it is cold, you throw it into the ocean.

One day – it is a very rare phenomenon – you come across a real touchstone. You pick it up, it is warm, but still you throw it. Then you cry and weep, then you cannot understand how it happened – but it is a simple mechanism. From the very childhood you are brought up to mistrust. You are brought up in such a way that you cannot trust. Doubt has been put deep into your being. In fact, it is a survival measure: if you don’t doubt, you will not be able to survive. You have to look at the world with hostile eyes, as if everybody is your enemy. Nobody is warm, nobody is a touchstone. You cannot even trust your own parents. And the child by and by comes to know that nobody is there who can be trusted. The parents are very contradictory; they say one thing, they do another thing. The child feels confused. It is very difficult for the child to figure it out, what the mother really wants. In fact, the mother herself does not know. And the child again and again feels that it is impossible to trust anybody. […]

Your father goes on saying to you: “Be truthful” – and you find a thousand and one times that he is untruthful. He even tells the child to go and tell the beggar who is knocking on the door that Daddy is not at home. And the child is puzzled: the father goes on saying, “Be truthful, never lie” – and he is lying! How to trust? And the child asks, “Is there God?” and the father says with tremendous confidence, “Yes there is. God created the world” – and one day or other the child discovers, “My father has not known. He simply deceived, bluffed. He himself is searching. He has not known God; he has not known that God has created the world.”

Mistrust is born. Feeling the cold pebbles again and again, you become accustomed to throw them. Then, not only this happens, an even deeper danger arises out of it. Mistrusting everybody who is around you…. Your teachers, your parents, your friends, neighborhood, society, the priest, the politician – all are cheating, all are deceiving. Nobody can be trusted in this world: this conclusion, sooner or later, dawns on the child’s mind. Then an even greater damage has been done: he cannot even trust himself. Why? – because whatsoever he does according to his nature, is never liked by anybody. Whatsoever he does according to his feeling is always wrong, found to be wrong.

He wants to go out and play with the children and the mother says, “Do the homework.” If he trusts his own feeling he has to go out and play – but that is dangerous. The mother will be angry, and tomorrow in the school the teacher will be angry… and the punishment of it all. He cannot trust his own feeling so he forces himself to sit there and do the homework. When he wants to sing, he cannot sing. When he wants to play, he cannot play, and whatsoever he wants, everybody seems to be against it. There seems to be a conspiracy. By and by, he comes to know that “If I do MY thing I am punished. If I don’t do my thing I am rewarded.” How can one trust oneself then? – dangerous. So first he loses trust in others, then he loses trust in himself. […]

By and by, as you have learnt mistrust, you will have to unlearn it. As you have learnt mistrust, you will have to learn trust too. And to learn mistrust is easy because it is very ego-fulfilling. To learn trust is more difficult because it is very ego-shattering.

Trust brings into your life a new breeze, a new opening, a new door. You have not travelled that way ever; you have not moved in that direction ever. You are not acquainted, familiar; you are moving into the strange – fear arises. […]

In the beginning it will be difficult, just because of old habits. Once it starts happening, little by little, inch by inch, you will be filled with so much warmth that you will be able to risk more and more.

Osho, The Divine Melody – Discourses on Songs of Kabir, Ch 8, Q 2 (excerpts)


Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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