Saturday, February 1, 2014

The company we keep

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.


  1. This is so nice indeed.. the traveller realises and says.."Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone." True, it is not the valuable materials that one can get as a gift from someone can be precious, it is only the virtues that one gets as gift from good people makes the real gifts.. A nice presentation ..:) Thank you.

  2. Very nice. Thank you Partha sir. Your blog always offers something.

  3. Absolutely...a man is known by the company he keeps.
    Association is stressed a lot even in Bhagvatham though I am unable to quote that texts.
    In Mahabharata though Karna was virtuous ultimately his downfall was bcoz of his associating with the Kauravas.
    You are inspiring me to revive my blogs on such issues :)

  4. Very beautiful thought. I have seen two sides to this concept, one learning and blooming from being a bud in to a flower in her qualities in the company ay of the good, the other even being in the come any of the good, being stagnant for years! Also sometimes we are forced to live with mean minded cruel people when we learn to be detached to their qualities to keep up our goodness.

  5. I feel happy always if I am with positive thinking people. People who brood and think just of themselves make us feel sad always. The Vietnamese saying is a very good example! Thank you, Partha Sir!

  6. Thats so is very important..

  7. As always a nice parable. company determines all. fyi the last 4 years have gained a lot of positivity, thanks to the company i keep.