THE WISE FISHERMAN (4 Feb 2015)
Once, some time ago, an old priest of Karnak, decided to take up fishing. So to prepare himself, he asked a young temple scribe to bring him sufficient twine so to weave a strong net. Day after day, the scribes and temple priests watched the old Hierophant transform the common twine into a very tightly woven matrix of knots and small squares. As he worked, he skillfully attached shiny pieces of well-polished bronze and colored strips of cloth to his growing net. As he continued to weave his watery tapestry, his dextrous movements made the bronze sparkle and reflect the ever-bright rays of Ra onto the temple pillars, seemingly bringing the multicolored hieroglyphs to life.
The old priest hummed softly to himself as he stitched his net. He was happy. He told the others that he was making a special net to catch a very crafty fish that no one had ever heard of before. The old priest told the young priests that he had a wonderful dream about such a fish and the fish told the priest to come find him. That this fish swum in the murky brown waters of the Nile, hidden from the eyes of normal men and women, was no surprise to the old priest. For common people see only what they want to see and hear only what they want to hear. But, a man or woman with an open mind, clarity of vision, and a sinless heart, would find such a fish.
After the net was complete, the old priest hired a boat to take him out every morning so he could cast his net into the living Nile and slowly pull it back into the boat so to inspect his catch. He found Nile perch and other common fish. Being a wise old man, he threw back many of the larger fish and kept only a few middle sized ones for the temple kitchen. He knew that if people kept only the largest, the remaining fish would grow smaller and smaller over time.
Every evening, the other priests asked him about his day and about the fish. No, he had not found it yet, but, all was fine. For rare and precious gifts do not come freely or often. The old priest was happy.
The old priest fished every day for many years, bringing back interesting fish and items he had retrieved from the flowing river. He never lost hope or complained about his fishing. He kept his net in perfect condition and even made some new ones for some of the younger priests who liked to float on the Nile, away from the noisy city, and fish.
One night, the old man dreamt again of this wondrous fish. He had just emptied his net of its prize fish, throwing them all back with a prayer and blessing, when standing upon the surface of the river, the old priest saw his great fish. The great fish said to the old priest, “Old man, you have fished for me for so many years, and have yet to find my watery home.”
The old man just smiled, “Yes, Lord Fish, I have risen with the Sun God and came home with the Moon God and fished for you many a day. Perhaps, my net never encircled you, but, I have learned so much about this river. It inhabitants, its currents, its reeds, I know its sweet voice. For me the river sings the sweetest of melodies.”
Lord Fish replied, “I have watched over you, old man, each and every day you fished. I have seen your kind ways and respect for all of this grand creation. Is there a gift I might give to you?”
The old priest looking pensively at Lord Fish, replied, “Lord Fish, you are a sly one indeed. But, I think I did catch you finally.”
Lord Fish chuckled, “So you found me, did you old man? Tell me how this can be so?”
“Well, Lord Fish, over the years I came to know your name, and knowing your name means knowing who you are. You are the spirit of this great Nile, you flow day and night, you feed the people and give them water, your floods bring the black soil for food. All my life, I searched for wisdom and understanding. But, what I found was nothing compared to what this net has brought me, Lord Fish.”
“Now, now, old man. Tell me, how, twine strung into a tapestry made only of square holes, brought you what you sought?”
“Lord Fish, we all are born and educated to believe that what is most valuable is what is rare and hard to attain. But, my net taught me that such worldly wisdom is not worth so very much. The real treasure lives in that which is too powerful for the net to capture and retain. Wisdom and understanding are the water which brings life to all creatures living within it.”
“Old man, are you satisfied, at long last?”
“Yes, Lord Fish, I am.”
“Then old man, come swim with me in the ever-living waters, waters murky only to those who fail to see what is true and always present.”
And with that, the old man left the temple and was seen no more–though some of the young temple fisherman could hear him singing in the flow of the great river.