The Unkind Friend – a Tale of the Master and his Student
The Unkind Friend
The student has come before his master to seek guidance. He looks dejected. After he has made the necessary ritualistic greetings he kneels down and begs for an audience.
Student: Master, I have a friend who is most unkind to me. What should I do?
Master: Go to your friend and do a minor kindness unto him, and come back to me to report.
A few days go by and the student is again before the master, more upset than before. He kneels down and begs for an audience again.
Student: I have done as you asked Master, I have done a minor kindness onto him…
Master: And the result?
Student: He is just as unkind. What should I do?
Master: Go to your friend and do a major kindness unto him, be pleasing and sincere, and when you have done this come back to me and report.
Master: Let us dispense with the formalities, speak.
Student: Oh Master, woe onto me, woe. I have done the major kindness you have asked of me onto my friend and to no effect, he is still most unkind. What am I to do, what am I to do?
Master: Student, you must calm yourself. Go back to your friend and do onto him as much kindness as you can, be as nice as you can possibly be, do him an utmost kindness, and then come back to me to report.
The student walks away with his head bowed. Several days go by. The master is beginning to wonder whether the problem is solved. He looks out onto the road and sees his student crawling on all fours, realizing it will be a long night, he takes his pipe and sits down.
Master: Speak wretched creature.
Student: I beg your forgiveness Master, I cannot even kneel properly.
Master: Have you done the utmost kindness to your friend as I instructed you to do?
Student: Oh, I have Master, I have.
Master: And what was the result?
Student: Oh, truly I am a wretched creature as you say, Master, for I have done onto my friend the utmost kindness and he is still most unkind to me I poured out my heart and soul for him and he spat on it and sullied it. I am beside myself with grief. What can I possibly do now?
Master: Student, pay attention. You came to me with a problem easily solved, your friend was being unkind to you. I told you first to do onto him a minor kindness then a major one and finally, an utmost one and all produced no effect, is that not so?
Student: You speak the truth.
The master lights his pipe and leans back inhaling. While he does so, his student begins to get agitated. Finally, at long length, the master speaks again.