The Magician and his Flock
“There is an Eastern tale that speaks about a very rich magician who had a great many sheep. But at the same time this magician was very mean. He did not want to hire shepherds, nor did he want to erect a fence about the pasture where the sheep were grazing. The sheep consequently often wandered into the forest, fell into ravines and so on, and above all, they ran away, for they knew that the magician wanted their flesh and their skins, and this they did not like.
“At last the magician found a remedy. He hypnotized his sheep and suggested to them, first of all, that they were immortal and that no harm was being done to them when they were skinned; that on the contrary, it would be very good for them and even pleasant; secondly he suggested that the magician was a good master who loved his flock so much that he was ready to do anything in the world for them; and in the third place, he suggested that if anything at all were going to happen to them, it was not going to happen just then, at any rate not that day, and therefore they had no need to think about it. Further, the magician suggested to his sheep that they were not sheep at all; to some of them he suggested that they were lions, to some that they were eagles, to some that they were men, to others that they were magicians.
“After this all his cares and worries about the sheep came to an end. They never ran away again, but quietly awaited the time when the magician would require their flesh and skins.
“This tale is a very good illustration of man’s position.”
An Armenian parable of the Wolf and the Sheep
“Ones there lived a wolf who slaughtered a great many sheep and reduced many people to tears. At length, I do not know why, he suddenly felt qualms of conscience and began to repent his life; so he decided to reform and to slaughter no more sheep.
In order to do this seriously he went to a priest and asked him to hold a thanksgiving service.
The priest began the service and the wolf stood weeping and praying in the church. The service was long. The wolf had slaughtered many of the priest’s sheep, therefore the priest prayed earnestly that the wolf would indeed reform.
Suddenly the wolf looked through the window and saw that sheep were being driven home. He began to fidget but the priest went on and on without end.
At last the wolf could contain himself no longer and he shouted: “Finish it priest! Or all the sheep will be driven home and I shall be left without supper!”
This is a very good fairy tale, because it describes man very well. He is ready to sacrifice everything, but after all today’s dinner is a different matter A man always wishes to begin with something big, but that is impossible; there can be no choice, we must begin with the things of today”.