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Nandita Kochar

A man decided one day to leave his life as a businessman and wander in the search of truth. As he moved out of his city, he saw an old man sitting under a tree. The young man did not know where to head in the search of truth. He had been told that he must go somewhere as a part of the search. But where? Which road must he take?

Seeing the old man sitting under the tree, the man wondered to himself if this old man could tell him where he could go. So he asked the old man who said, “Yes I know the road. Follow the right and go on until you come to a very specific tree” – he described this tree in lengthy detail, its leaves, its fruit – “and you will find under it a very old man. Just to give you an example, something like me but thirty years older. This is the man who is going to be your guide.”

The man was extremely happy. He thanked the old man and left on the road he thought he should take. For thirty years, this man wandered and wandered but did not spot either the tree or the old man. He was getting tired and aging. “What nonsense!”, he told himself.

Finally he decided that it was time to head back home. He had wasted thirty years of his life and he could not spare a second more in the search of this guide. God knows even if he had found this old man, what sort of guidance he would have received and how long it would have taken for him to find the truth under his guidance. He regretted leaving his business, a healthy prosperous one, and walking onto the path he did.

He returned to the city. And there he saw the old man and the tree which had been described to him earlier! And he looked under the tree and the old man was there – the same old man, thirty years older and exactly the same as the description in every way. He said, “My God! Then why did you waste my thirty years?”

The old man said, ”I wasted your thirty years or you wasted mine? At that point of time, you were not ready for my guidance. You didn’t even bother looking at the very tree that I was describing in minute detail. You did not even bother looking at me. You were in such a hurry; you were too young. But nothing is wasted. I was waiting, knowing that one day you will come back, one day you will recognize this tree, one day you will recognize this old man, that I am your guide!”

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