One day a traveler was walking along a road on his journey from one village to another.
As he walked he noticed a monk tilling the ground in the fields beside the road. The monk said “Good day” to the traveler and the traveler nodded to the monk.
The traveler then turned to the monk and said, “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Not at all,” replied the monk.
“I am traveling from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley and I was wondering if you knew what it is like in the village in the valley?”
“Tell me,” said the monk. “What was your experience of the village in the mountains?”
“Dreadful,” replied the traveler.
“To be honest I am glad to be away from there. I found the people most unwelcoming. When I first arrived I was greeted coldly. I was never made to feel a part of the village no matter how hard I tried. The villagers keep very much to themselves; they don’t take kindly to strangers. So tell me, what can I expect in the village in the valley?”
“I’m sorry to tell you,” said the monk, “but I think your experience will be much the same there.”
The traveler hung his head despondently and walked on. A few months later another traveler was journeying down the same road and he also came upon the monk.
“Good day,” said the traveler.
“Good day,” said the monk.
“How are you?” asked the traveler.
“I’m well,” replied the monk. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to the village in the valley,” replied the traveler.
“Do you know what it is like?”
“I do,” replied the monk. “But first, tell me, where have you come from?”
“I’ve come from the village in the mountains.”
“And how was that?”
“It was a wonderful experience. I would have stayed if I could but I am committed to traveling on. I felt as though I were a member of the family in the village. The elders gave me much advice, the children laughed and joked with me, and the people generally were kind and generous. I am sad to have left there. It will always hold special memories for me. And what of the village in the valley?” he asked again.
“I think you will find it much the same,” replied the monk. “Good day to you.”
“Good day and thank you,” replied the traveler, smiled, and journeyed on.