Everything Else

In a land in our time there lived a man, who read a book and found lots of wonderful stories therein. There were true and invented stories, experienced and pensive, enjoyable and painful stories. There were stories which contained stories, and such which were actually not stories. For every story he read, there occurred to him nearly five which he had either experienced or thought up himself. So the thought came to him, that a lot in the world was a story which could be healing for himself and others; he only needed to absorb the healing stories well and to forget the terrible ones immediately. Then he would learn which story he had used when and for what. So he organised his own stories which he knew, and which had become a help to himself and others, or could become so. Sometimes he noted it down when a new story came to his ears and sometimes when a helpful story occurred to him, he memorised it.

Then he saw before him in a picture the storystories of this life arranged in long shelves, as in a large pharmacy. And behind the counter there sat a man who had learnt to listen to himself and others. He was a master of his subjectspecialty. His talent was that he understood how to tell the right thing at the right time to himself and to those who visited him.


Some engineers are specialized in constructing valves. They do nothing else; they just construct valves, all day long. Now someone might ask: Isn’t thisit boring, to occupy your mind with nothing but valves all day long? But actually it is a very interesting field. There are valves for air and valves for steam, and then there are some for water and some for oil. There are high- pressure valves and thermostat valves. There are regulators for monitoring the temperature of a liquid, for instance in the shower. There are valves, which activate themselves and others, which can be operated only by hand, and there are some which work both automatically and manually.

One could think that valves are a human invention, but nature also knows valves and regulators of many different kinds. We find natural valves at the entrance of the gullet and of the air tube, at the exits of the stomach and of the bladder, and at the end of the intestines. Many glands are using some kind of valve. There are the heart valves, and in the veins, there are valves to ensure that the blood flows in the right direction.

We are used to turning the heat on when we are cold, and to turning it off when we are warm. We use a control for the central heating, if we want to change the temperature of the oven. We know that we can turn off the water in the house if a pipe bursts in the winter. We are used to regulating the amount and temperature of the water in the bath tub, and to accelerating and slowing down our car. We are used to our bicycle tyres being filled with air, a kettle whistling, and a steamer cooking our meals. For all this we use valves. They serve our purposes without us having to think about them. But there is one important difference between the valves of our body and the technical ones invented by humans. If a technical valve is set in the wrong position someone must come and readjust it. The natural valves of our body and soul adjust and get set all by themselves, and they can – if necessary – independently readjust themselves at any time.

Civil War and Civil Peace

Once there was a civil war in Pampelonia. This is what happened: one evening, the guards on the tower of the royal castle heard gunshots from far away. Somewhere on the western horizon they saw a column of smoke ascending. “A revolution!” they shouted. “Our country is in danger!” A unit of the royal army took their weapons, saddled their horses, and rode away. They followed the direction of the smoke column. Their path went through a deep dark forest. It was already dark when they arrived in the area from where the gunshots had been fired. At some distance, on a forest glade, they saw a fire burning. What had at first appeared to be a burning house turned out to be a very large bonfire. Around the fire, a large crowd of armed citizens had gathered. “Rebels!” the commander whispered. Silently, they surrounded the clearing. Then they stepped forward. “Surrender!” the commander shouted. “We are superior in number!” The men on the clearing were startled. “Robbers!” one of them exclaimed. “Poachers!” shouted another. They jumped up and opened fire. Too late did they recognize the uniforms of the royal army. Slowly the soldiers realized that they had encountered a gathering of hunters, who had come together for a good roast and a drop of wine after a hunt. But they already found themselves engaged in combat, and very soon the inhabitants of a nearby village came with scythes and pitchforks to defend the hunters against the alleged robbers. What should the commander do? “Cease fire!” he shouted. He had the trumpeter sound the retreat, and his soldiers drew back. He decided upon a phased withdrawal of his troops, pulling out half of his soldiers and letting the other half secure the field. He waited until his opponents had understood that they wanted to withdraw and ceased their fire as well. Again he ordered half of the remaining soldiers to retreat while the other half secured the territory. He waited again until the sound of gunshots died down, and repeated the procedure a few more times until he was the only one left. Last of all, he left the battlefield. Back at the royal castle he gave a report to the king about the incident. The king, who was a good monarch, ordered them to go there again, but by daytime and unarmed. He himself accompanied the unit. They arrived at the place of the nightly encounter. The king had the villagers and the hunters of the area gather before him and explained how friends had erroneously mistaken each other for enemies. He pointed out that he saw their very good intention, although initially in misjudgement of the actual situation. A misunderstanding like this was there for being clarified. Whoever wanted to support the common good could contribute to reconciliation here and now. Now the king praised the villagers for having defended the hunters against their assaulters. He praised the hunters for having defended the forest against robbers and poachers. He praised the army for having defended his country against rebels. Most of all he praised the commander of his army for having defended the villagers, the hunters and the army by his cautious withdrawal. After the king’s speech, the hunters, villagers and soldiers asked each other for forgiveness. They pledged to support each other anytime, and to stand for justice and peace in the kingdom as long as they lived. They confirmed this pledge by putting out the fire together.