Extract from ETERNAL STORIES FOR LEARNING TO LEARN by José María Doria. A selection of stories of multiple cultural roots, which form the Ethical Heritage of Humanity.
The true value of the ring
One day a troubled young man appeared before an old man who had the reputation being wise man, who hastily told him:
“Teacher, I am desperate, I feel so miserable that I lack the strength to do anything. I think that I don´t serve for anything and that my life is a failure. Actually, nobody listens to me nor appreciates the good intention of my words. I have been told that your remedies and teachings are very special. I am willing to serve you in whatever you need, but please guide me to the solution of my problem. What I can do?”
The old man, hardly looking at him, said:
“How sorry I am, young man, but I cannot help you because I must solve my own problem first. Maybe later … “ Pausing, he added, “If you want to help me, I could solve my problem quicker and then, maybe I could help you.”
“Agreed Master,” replied the young man with a ray of hope: “What can I do for you?”
The Master took off the ring he had on the little finger of his left hand handed it to the youth and said:
“This ring must be sold to pay a debt. Go to the market and try to get the highest possible amount, but do not accept less than one gold coin. Go as soon as possible and come back with that coin as fast as you can!”
The young man took the ring and when he reached the market, he began to offer it to the people who at first were interested, until the young man asked for a gold coin, when they lost interest. Some laughed, others turned away. Only an old man was so kind as to take the trouble to explain that a gold coin was too much for that ring. In an effort to help, someone offered him a silver coin and a copper pot, but since the young man was instructed not to accept less than one gold coin, he rejected the offer.
After offering his jewel to every person who crossed the market and feeling dejected by his failure, he returned to the wise man´s house, saying to himself: “If I had a gold coin, I would give it right to the old man. “
He entered the room and said:
“Master, I’m sorry, it’s not possible to get what you asked for. Maybe I could get two or three silver coins, but I do not think I can fool anyone about the true value of the ring.”
“What you said is so important, young friend” -the teacher replied smiling-. “We ought first to know the true value of the ring. Go back to the market and go to the jeweler. Who better than him to know it? Tell him you want to sell the ring and ask him how much he gives for it. But whatever he offers you, do not sell it. Come back with my ring“.
The young man ran to a jeweler, who examined the ring by the light of a lamp, looked at it with his magnifying glass, weighed it and then said:
“Young man, tell the Master that if he wants to sell it now, I cannot give him more than 58 gold coins for his ring.”
“¡¡¡¡58 coins ???!!!” exclaimed the young man. “Yes,” replied the jeweler, “I know that with time we could get about 70 coins but if the sale is urgent …”.
The young man ran excitedly to the Master’s house to tell him what happened.
“Sit down” -he said after listening-.”You are like this ring: A jewel, unique and valuable. And as such, only you can consider yourself to be a true expert.” And saying this, he put the ring back on the little finger of his left hand.
The young man left the house smiling, while deep down he said to himself: “What are you doing, going through life letting anyone else discover your true value”?
Remember always your great value