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Fable of the Candle

Once there was a dark land, without light or lamp. There an old sage made a candle that could not burn out; and this candle was the first and only light in the dark land.

The sage had a young disciple, whom he taught—slowly, slowly—how to look at the light and how to see by it.

The people of the dark land hated the sage and his light. Now and then men climbed by twos or three out of the dark town below, up to the cabin where the candle burned, to try to put it out. Then the young disciple would fight them off.

But this time, one townsman got inside; before he could be dragged out, he knocked the frail sage down—killing him. Then there was wailing from the cabin: and when it was heard below, the town answered with cheers.

The young man buried the old sage. The men of the dark town were more daring now. It seemed that they were always creeping up, trying to get in to put out the candle. So the young man set his chair in the doorway, and with his back to the candle listened to the dark outside. When he heard voice or movement, he stood and charged shouting; and once it was gone, he sat and listened again. He listened long, listened and chased until he was weary and past weary, until he had learned to listen half-awake and to chase without anger. How long that went on—too long.

In time the men of the dark town began to lose interest. Soon there were silences when no men came at all. Then the young man, with joy, re-entered the cabin to see the light again. But he had been too long from light: and he looking so suddenly upon it, the candle burned his eyes, the light blinded him forever.

Moral: Do not turn your Back to the Light to protect it.