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The Five Foolish Friends

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There once was a secular humanist who was walking with four theist friends. One of his friends was a Hindu, another was a Buddhist, the thir...

There once was a secular humanist who was walking with four theist friends. One of his friends was a Hindu, another was a Buddhist, the third was a Muslim, and the last was a Christian. They were walking on a road none of them had ever walked on before, with no particular goal in mind, simply talking and enjoying each other’s company.

As they walked, to everyone’s surprise, they came up to a beautiful Hindu temple. Along the outside walls of the temple, ornamented very pleasingly, were representations of many Hindu gods. The Hindu friend became very excited at seeing this Hindu temple where he did not expect to see it. He begged his friends pardon, took off his shoes, and ran inside the temple to pay his respects to the gods. About thirty minutes later the Hindu friend came out. Happy and smiling he told his friends about his experience. His friends listened patiently, but they privately wondered at his foolishness.

The friends walked about a mile when they came to a Buddhist temple. Like the Hindu, the Buddhist friend became very excited at seeing a Buddhist temple. He begged his friends pardon, and then ran into the temple. About thirty minutes later he came out looking very pleased. He told his friends about the teacher he meet, his short meditation, and the inspiration he felt on seeing the representation of the Buddha that symbolized his own hoped for enlightenment. His friends listened patiently, but they privately wondered at his foolishness.

They continued their walk and about a mile down the road came to a beautiful Muslim mosque. The Muslim friend, like the other two friends, was very excited at seeing something so beautiful. He begged his friends pardon and ran into the mosque. Thirty minutes later, he came out full of happiness that he was able to attend one of the daily prayers. He told his friends his great joy in knowing Allah. His friends listened patiently, but they privately wondered at his foolishness.

They walked another mile and came to a very large Christian church with a tall modern steeple. The Christian friend was struck by its beauty, and just like his other friends had done, begged their pardon and ran into the church. Thirty minutes later, he came out happy and joyful. He told his friends that had been able to join in on a moving song to Jesus and had been invited to say a prayer. His friends listened patiently, but they privately wondered at his foolishness.

They continued their walk and a mile later they came across no more buildings but the road ended and in front of them was nothing but mountains, trees, and a small stream that flowed from the mountains. The four religious friends turned to the secular humanist and smiled. They teased him by offering their apologies that he alone had nowhere to go to receive inspiration and happiness. They had great temples, mosques, or churches to go to, but he was alone. The secular humanist took their teasing gracefully and when they finished, it was his turn to smile.

“Look,” he said while stretching out his arms toward them, “I have spent all day with my friends. I have spent time sharing your happiness. I have had a good walk. Now look at this beautiful mountain, these trees, and the stream. You are wrong, I feel very inspired and very happy.” His friends listened patiently, but they privately wondered at his foolishness.

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Consider This:

If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed. -Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel laureate (1879-1955)

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