A Three Year Lesson

A Three-Year Lesson

In a small village in China long before there were electricity and automobiles, a youth named Yung Lin Ru visited the home of the honorable elder Sage Ray.

“Elder Sage Ray,” the young man said with a bow, “The restaurant you own is flourishing, but you and your partner are no longer young. I offer you this bag of gold if you will allow me to purchase your restaurant and run it from now on.”

The elder man looked at the bag and replied, “Yung Lin Ru, your gold would be enough, but I must consult with my wife and business partner, who is in the next room.”

The elder arose from his couch and went into the back room. Presently he returned. “My spouse has agreed to the sale if you can answer one question well.” Yung Lin Ru waited in silence and the elder continued: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Too surprised to remember courtesy, Yung Lin Ru blurted out, “What kind of question is that?”

To this the elder replied with a smile, “It is the kind of question that must be well answered before you can buy our restaurant.”

“Um…the sound of silence?” Yung Lin Ru ventured, and silence was the only response he received.

Completely flustered, Yung Lin Ru bowed and left the home of elder Sage Ray. Shortly thereafter, he took his gold to a nearby village and purchased a restaurant from its owner there and began to run it himself. He worked very hard, but his restaurant did not do so well and in less than a year he was forced to sell the restaurant back to its original owner for much less than he had purchased it. He was offered the job of waiting on tables there and after working for two more years he had replenished the money he lost.

In addition to working for those three years Yung Lin Ru had had enough time to do much thinking, and soon he was again knocking on the door of Elder Sage Ray, but this time he was not alone.

After being greeted warmly by his host, Yung Lin Ru spoke, “Honorable elder Sage Ray, three years ago you asked me what is the sound of one hand clapping, and finally after three years I have come up with a meaningful answer. The sound of one hand clapping is the sound I made when I last visited you. It is the sound of a fool who believes he can achieve his goals without the help of a partner. So, here is my younger sister Yung Mi Tu, and here is a bag of gold, and together we wish to purchase and run your restaurant, for you and your partner are not young.”

The elder smiled, “That is a very good answer; my partner and I will be happy to sell the restaurant to you.”

Joey Pugh

Joey Pugh is the author of At Death's Door: And Other Tales 

He has degrees in Social Work and Accounting and has devoted the past thirty years volunteering for various worthy ministries. This is his first fiction credit with Ariel Chart.

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