A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing at his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.
But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
"I've been thinking," he said. "I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone."
This short story from an unknown author tells us that sometimes it's not the material possessions one has but, what's inside the person that others would admire and possibly need. The compassion, generosity and the detachment to material things were some of the fine qualities that distinguished the wise woman from the ordinary.
It also tells that good and bad traits are infectious. They rub easily and quickly on us. The other traveler poor in circumstances needed wealth and unabashedly asked the woman for the precious gem. But it was her selfless instant giving without a second thought that overpowered his basic instinct to acquire. He was transformed by sheer example without a word being uttered. Such is the power of example that good souls exude.
There is a Vietnamese saying: “Close to the ink, you will be blackened; near the lamp, you will be lit up” That is why it is always stressed that we avoid bad and keep good company. The dictum to judge the man by the company he keeps stems from this belief that one is no different from his companions in his traits. ..”But if you’re gonna dine with them cannibals, sooner or later, darling, you’re gonna get eaten” said a quote humorously. It is our free choice to decide with whom to be accompanied and it is our right to choose with whom not to be around. Instead of surrounding ourselves with wicked, bitter or lazy people, let us be around positive, virtuous and inspiring people. Like the fragrance of sandal wood attaching to the hand that holds it, good company invariably changes us for the better.