Carpet the Earth

by Win Bradley
(Richmond, Virginia)

Original Text: Carpet the Earth


One day, a young King decided to visit the local townspeople. He rarely went outside of the palace grounds, but he did enjoy meeting the people that came to visit him. He also enjoyed being barefoot. He loved to stroll through his scenic gardens and green lawns, enjoying the feel of the well tended earth beneath his feet.

The day was beautiful, so with his court accompanying him, the King began to walk towards the nearest town.

The road was hard and barren. There were wheel ruts, and sharp pebbles in the street. And while the townspeople were thrilled to see their King, the poor King was in terrible discomfort the entire time.

After returning to his palace, the King examined his feet. They were blistered and bruised from the day's walk. He had never been in so much pain.

He didn't want this to dampen his spirits though. He had enjoyed his visit with the local people, and he wanted to see them more often, but he couldn't bare the thought of spending another day on those terrible roads.

While sitting on his throne, with his advisers all around him, the King suddenly had an idea. He shouted, "I hereby decree that all roads be covered in the finest carpet we have!"

Well, his advisers thought this was a brilliant idea, and quickly set about making plans to carpet the roads.

The Court Jester happened to be nearby when the announcement was made, and he began to laugh. "What are you laughing about?" shouted the King. I've solved the problem of the horrible roads and my blistered feet, and now I can spend more time with my people."

Certainly my Lord," replied the jester. "You truly are a generous and caring ruler."

"Then why are you laughing?" asked the King.

"Well I was wondering," replied the jester, "Wouldn't it be easier just to put on a pair of shoes?"

--

There's an old Zen saying: "It is easier to put on a pair of sandals, than to carpet the entire earth."

Like a lot of Zen sayings, this one is about looking inward and changing ourselves. Most of the time we do the opposite of that. We look outward, we see everything that everyone else is doing wrong, and then we set about trying to change everyone.

The king in our story suffers from this same affliction. His intentions are good, but in the end, the King is trying to carpet the earth, instead of just putting on his shoes.

When we shout, people shout back. When we push, people push back. When we use force, an opposite force will eventually oppose us. Our good intentions are irrelevant.

Mohandas Gandhi once said: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

If we want the world to be peaceful, then we should be peaceful in dealing with others. If we want the world to be smarter, we can educate ourselves. And if we want the world to be cleaner, we can clean up our own backyards.

One of life's hardest lessons to learn is that we can only change ourselves.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Revised Text:

One day, a young King decided to visit the local townspeople. He rarely went outside of the palace grounds, but he did enjoy meeting the people that came to visit him. He also enjoyed being barefoot. He loved to stroll through his scenic gardens and green lawns, enjoying the feel of the well tended earth beneath his feet.

The day was beautiful, so, with his court accompanying him, the King began walking towards the nearest town.

The road was hard and barren, with wheel ruts, and sharp pebbles in the street, and while the townspeople were thrilled to see their King, the poor King was in terrible discomfort the entire time.

After returning to his palace, the King examined his feet. They were blistered and bruised from the day's walk. He had never been in so much pain.

He didn't want this to dampen his spirits, though. He had enjoyed his visit with the local people, and he wanted to see them more often, but he couldn't bare the thought of spending another day on that terrible road.

While sitting on his throne, with his advisers all around him, the King suddenly had an idea. He shouted, "I hereby decree that all roads be covered in the finest carpets we have!"

"Well," his advisers thought, "this was a brilliant idea." and quickly set about making plans to carpet the road.

The Court Jester happened to be nearby when the announcement was made, and he began to laugh.

"What are you laughing at?" shouted the King. I've solved the problem of the horrible road, and my blistered feet, and now I can spend more time with my people."

"Certainly my Lord," replied the jester. "You truly are a generous and caring ruler."

"Then why are you laughing?" asked the King.

"Well I was wondering," replied the jester, "wouldn't it be easier just to put on a pair of shoes?"

--

There's an old Zen saying: "It is easier to put on a pair of sandals, than to carpet the entire earth."

Like a lot of Zen sayings, this one is about looking inward and changing ourselves. Most of the time we do the opposite of this. We look outward, we see everything that everyone else is doing wrong, and then we set about trying to change everyone.

The king in our story suffers from this same way of thinking. His intentions are good, but in the end, the King is trying to carpet the earth, instead of just putting on his shoes.

When we shout, people shout back. When we push, people push back. When we use force, an opposite force will eventually oppose us. Our good intentions are irrelevant.

Mohandas Gandhi once said: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

If we want the world to be peaceful, then we should be peaceful in dealing with others. If we want the world to be smarter, we can educate ourselves. If we want the world to be cleaner, we can clean up our own backyards.

One of life's hardest to learn lessons is, that we can only change ourselves.

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