Stone cutter parable

July 30, 2015

Certain stories have in them the power to leave you more then when you first stumbled on them…..oh yes, they do..the parable of the stone cutter is one of those stories.

It is so seemingly simple, yet very powerful – it is a story that I often find myself reflecting on…. over and over again at various stages of my life.

Each time as I recount the story so very slowly and assemble the image of the stone cutter in my mind’s eye, it never fails to reveal yet another hidden chapter of wisdom.

I imagine this could be the reason why I keep returning to this parable time and again – or perhaps I am just enchanted by the poetry of stones…I have always like their dignified silence…texture…their seeming permanence, timelessness and quiet beauty, it is not unusual for me to look at a rock face for hours and to just marvel at how the light at various times of the day transforms and paints them.

Above all, the stone cutter parable is one of those stories where there is so much room for interpretation, each of us can really take whatever life lessons we want out of it and even choose to call it our own…very few stories, I am often reminded are that considerate. For me, it is story that has so many hidden chapters, if only we bothered to peer into it’s many darkened interiors – at one level of understanding, it demonstrates how the idea of power will always be relative.

The themes of “powerful” and “weak” repeat themselves in this parable like a mantra. The story begins with the stonecutter feeling “weak” compared to the “powerful” rich man – when he sees how the crowd fetes the “powerful” high official, he is once again dissatisfied with his “weak” state – and this interplay between ‘powerful’ and ‘weak’ and satisfaction or the lack of it, goes on and on…the cloud becomes more “powerful” in relation to the mighty sun, but soon becomes “weak” in relation to the wind and so on and so forth…till at the end the stonecutter ends up where he started from.

What does it all mean?

This suggests, nothing is really set in stone – notions of what is “powerful” and “weak”, are at best relative – a man of modest income might be regarded by society as “weak” BUT that’s only because we are scripted and conditioned to measure what is “powerful” in terms of nett worth and very little else. Another man might call this man of limited financial means “powerful” as he measures a man’s cumulative worth based on how many times he can make a child laugh and feels rich that he can bring so much joy and happiness to those around him.

Do you begin to see how the idea of power is seldom as robust as what we so often believe it to be, rather it is intrinsically elastic since it is essentially a function of what we choose to prioritize and demote in life.

The lesson here is what is “powerful” is at best an illusion because it is based entirely on the arbitrary terms of comparison. When scrutinized closely, the word collapses ontu itself. As what is powerful to one is weakness to another, and vice versa.

Hence the interpretations of this interchange is – true contentment can really only come from accepting who we already are and not to take for granted many of our blessings…that we are in good health…have decent parents….don’t live in an earthquake prone region…or even that we can just walk right out into the world without having to dodge bullets.

The conclusion to the story (to me) suggests that if each of us just press the pause button somewhere in our heads. Instead of running mindlessly to the next best smartphone, mall, boyfren, magazine, bottle of moisturizing cream, car, condo…..still our minds long enough to perceive ourselves correctly…. we would all suddenly cease to indulge in petty comparisons and be grateful for what we already have.


‘Being contented does NOT mean – you no longer strive to better your lot. Or that you have made a vow to prove to the world you can somehow survive on a diet of sunflower seeds. That is the outward appearance of contentment that is so often confused with the substantive.

Contentment is simply superior intelligence. But what is intelligence? Can there be intelligence when there is fear, or when the mind is so scripted that you don’t even bother to question why you wake up every morning and put in eight or ten hours in the workplace? Or even stop to ask why do you set the goals you do or where does all this finally lead too?

Can there be intelligence when the only reason why you climb the ladder of success and compete relentlessly for pole position is because everyone seems to be doing the same thing?

Surely, intelligence can only come when you understand WHY you strive…crave…desire….covet the things you do and decide to break away from all this stupidity.

And in breaking away, you are acutely aware, so much of your being is the result of scripting and conditioning. The beginning of all human intelligence is when you make the connection contentment is not what the world says you must have to lead a purpose driven life. Rather it is what you yourself have internalized it to be.

This is very easy to write about and even describe, but I assure you it is very hard to pull off….very difficult…so be patient and kind to yourself, don’t try to eat it in one sitting. You will choke to death! – to seek contentment thru active intelligence that is – because as soon as one becomes conscious of one’s own scripting and conditioning, the mind suddenly turns against it’self. This programming is so deeply encrusted with our sense of being that as soon as we try to cut the co-axial wire, it will begin to automatically defend itself against a shut down and try to convince us, all our goals are valid…normal…and even good!

But when one perseveres on this course soon one will come to the awful realization, so much of what makes up our being, identity and spirit has been put there by our parents, teachers, priest, leaders, movies, magazines, propaganda, marketing experts, spin doctors, bill board posters etc etc etc….when the fully matured mind looks on all this, it is not so different from a man standing before a mountain of clutter in a warehouse. He will say to himself, how did so much useless nonsense end up in one place?

Because when the fully matured man stands before the door of contentment and watches all the things that he used to desire….yearn….and crave for….so very little actually came from him.’

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