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A Zen Parable of Trust

To build wisdom, judgment and strength of character, one must encounter falsehood and learn to recognize it.


One father was careful never to lie to his son, ever. He wanted his son to trust him, of course. But when the boy had reached the age of four years, it became apparent that he was gullible. He put too much faith in what he heard, regardless of the source. Realizing the danger of this, the father began to lie to his son.

He wanted the boy to discover the lie, of course, so he started with very big lies.

"It's already dark outside," says the father to his son. But the boy sees it is still light, and turns to his father with a look of confusion.

"It is if you close your eyes!" says the father with a twinkle in his eye. The boy laughs as he realizes that words can lie, and that the best lies contain a bit of truth. After a few weeks of this treatment, the boy has learned how to watch for lies, building an important skill. His gullibility, his innocent vulnerability, is gone forever.

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