Friday, April 13, 2012

Two Brothers

Two brothers were orphaned. The devotees at a local temple took them in and raised them. The older brother loved the rites and rituals of the temple. He quickly became an adept at reading the holy scriptures and was made a bell-ringer during the services. The Master of the temple was very pleased with him.
"You have the makings of a master yourself," he said, "And one day you will take my place."
The younger brother spent most of his time in the garden when he wasn't being punished for some breach of discipline. As soon as he was old enough to scale the wall surrounding the temple he was making nightly forays into the neighboring village. He learned to play dice, and to smoke hashish. He discovered the pleasures of women. He took up the guitar and began playing bawdy ballads in a brothel. Soon  enough the people at the temple discovered what he was up to. At first they tried remonstrating with him.  He smiled and apologized, but the next night he slipped over the wall. They tried to restrict his movements. He simply escaped. Finally in frustration the Master told him he must either live by the tenets of the temple or he must leave.
The next day the two brothers bade each other a tearful farewell. The wise brother understood that the spirit of his brother needed the freedom to roam in the world. The younger brother saw that his older brother had found his place in the world and knew that was something that he may never find. And so they parted.
The years passed. The older brother thought of his sibling often and prayed for him each night. Sometimes he tried to imagine what had become of the younger brother but he never received any word. It was like the younger brother had vanished from the world.
One year a dry wind began to blow. It blew steadily for months and a famine gripped the land. Hordes of armed horsemen invaded from the north, plundering and pillaging as they advanced. Refugees streamed down the roads from the north. Many sought shelter in the temple. Soon the temple was overflowing with refugees and the meager foodstuffs the devotees had on hand were gone. Everyone was hungry.
Then the horsemen arrived. They slew people indiscriminately, raping the women, making slaves of the young, murdering the old. The older brother watched in horror as the Master was dragged from the altar and butchered by the laughing barbarians. An iron collar was placed around his neck and he was sold into slavery.
He was shackled to other slaves and marched for long wearisome days to a slave market. The slave auctioneer declared that the brother was a scribe, could read and write, and would be a valuable asset to any business. A woman merchant bought him.
That night she summoned him. "I have a friend who visits me several nights a week." she said, "You must show all my accounts to him and answer any questions he puts to you."
The brother bowed. "As you wish, my lady."
The next night a hooded figure came up the street and knocked at the door. The lady knew the knock.
"Open it immediately." she ordered. The older brother opened the door and there stood his long lost brother. Both gazed at each other in astonishment. And then they embraced.
"But how is it that you are here in this position?" asked the younger brother. The older brother smiled and said, "God has seen to it that we are re-united. I have finally come to understand what the scriptures were really saying.  Everything that has happened now makes sense to me. For this great lesson I am grateful."
Together the two brothers raised the funds to build a new temple. It was unlike the old temple in many ways. It was called the Temple of Love.

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