Once, there was a community of wise monks who lived in the desert. One day, a man arrived at the monastery, asking if he could stay and learn wisdom from the monks. The old abbot came out and greeted the traveler, then asked why he had come.
The man answered, “I want to be wise, but I only have the weekend.”
The abbot smiled, because many men hoped for the wisdom which had taken him a lifetime to accumulate. He replied, “To begin, go to the graveyard and spend the day cursing the dead. Tell them they lived useless lives, and the world is better off without them.”
The man thought this was strange, but he did as he was asked. The next day, the abbot asked the traveler, “So, what did the dead say?” The man replied, “Nothing, they’re all dead!”
The abbot told him, “Today, go to the graveyard and spend all day praising the dead! Shower them with blessings, exhort them, and speak of the many ways society has benefited from their life’s work.”
Now the man was thoroughly bewildered, but he did as he was asked. The next day, the abbot asked the traveler, “So, what did the dead say?”
The man replied, “Nothing! They’re all dead! And I have to leave today!” The wise old abbot looked at him and said,
“What wise men they must be, to not be swayed by either the empty blessings or angry curses of other people. They must know true happiness.”