In a land far far away, in a village away from all civilization, there once lived a father who had two sons. Since the death of his wife, the father was raising his sons alone. He loved both his sons more than he loved the world. His sons become his world.
Before the death of his loving wife, he promised their dying mother that he would give their sons everything that they ever needed. He promised his dying wife that he will give his life as a sacrifice to their two young sons. That is what the man promised his dying wife. That was what he did.
His sons, however, were very different from one other. Like night and day, their personalities clashed day and night. The sons contended for their father’s love. They fought for his attention, his care, and his guidance. The fights for attention were won by the one who was stronger, the one who was older. It was the older brother that first won the heart of their father.
The older son, Cain showed interest in all the earthly matters. He became the tiller of the ground. He wanted to learn how to grow food, how to plant trees, and how to extract minerals from Mother Earth. Cain was a down-to-earth pragmatic person who became absorbed in all the practical matters of life. He only considered valuable the things that he could see and touch, things that he could behold or bestow.
His younger brother, Abel was more idealistic. His soul wasn’t interested in the matters of how to do things, but rather of why things had to be done. He didn’t want to know how to grow food or plant trees, but rather why food is grown and why trees are planted. Abel was preoccupied with questions of the mind. Abel spent most of his days living in his mind, thinking about the nature of reality as it was; the ways in which it came to be.
Since the father loved both his sons equally, he decided to dedicate his time equally to guiding their lost souls. The time of day, the father devoted himself to his older son Cain. The long dark nights he devoted himself to his younger son Abel.
During the day, Cain and his father together planted seeds to grow food. The father was guiding Cain on how to grow the food that one day had to be harvested. He taught Cain everything that he knew about being the man of the house so that one day Cain could become the head of his own house. Cain had to become a man of his own creation. As the older son, since times immemorial, it was a tradition that the older son took over the responsibilities of the father.
During the day, Cain together with his father worked on their farm. The farm provided the substances of their sustenance. The food they grew brought nourishment to their fickle bodies. It was the daily bread that gave energy to their feeble minds.
In times of day, Abel spent the day by himself. Since his father was guiding his older brother Cain during the day, Abel decided to be of use by guiding sheep into the green foothills. Abel was leading the brainless sheep into lands of abundant greenery. While the simple-minded sheep ate, Abel sat under a tree and read books of the wise. In the words of stories and fables, Abel was losing himself in order to better understand himself. He was planting seeds on how one could think for oneself.
That is how the two brothers spent their days. That was how Cain became a farmer and Abel a shepherd.
During the long nights, when Cain slept after long hard days of work, Abel got to spend his time with his father. The night Abel shined in delight for he had his father by his side. It was in the time of night that he asked his father to tell him stories from his life. Abel wished to learn how other people lived and what they had learned in their journey of life. Abel wanted to learn how he too should live his God-given life. In the darkness of the night, his father told him stories that he had learned from his own father. He told him stories that he had learned from others.
Hidden within the stories of his father there was always a hidden jewel of wisdom. The stories that his father told were simple and transparent. But Abel knew that each story, within its transparent nature, contains wisdom that he had to extract for himself. The jewel of wisdom was always transparently extended to Abel, calling for his hand to grab it. But the jewel of wisdom could only be seized by his own able mind. Through his fathers’ stories and the stories of books, Abel was trying to learn how to think for himself.
That is how the two devoted brothers passed their days. One devoted to the growth of the body, while the other devoted to the growth of his mind. Both growths supported by the benevolent soul of their caring father.
That was how they passed their days and nights.
Days came and went.
Days turned into years, and they too came and went. From where they came and where the days went, nobody really knew. Everyone was just a witness to the passing of time. Everyone was just a witness to their own growth of mind and body. The father saw his sons growing, day by day, they were getting stronger and wiser. They were no longer young boys, for they started to resemble the statute of men. He was proud of their growth, as every father shall be.
The human body, however, had a limit to its growth. After growing for days and years, the body at some point begins to decline. The body weakens for it has exhausted all the nourishment that came from the motherly Earth.
While the sons were growing, their fathers’ condition started deteriorating.
Their father was getting old.
He was slowly dying.
One day, his condition worsened so much that he became aware that his eyes won’t see the light of another day. Wanting to see his two sons for one last time, he gathered them around his dying bed.
“My sons, my whole life I have cared for you. I have given you everything that I have, and now you have become men. But the day has come when I can no longer care for you.”
“Long time ago, before your mother died, I gave her my word that until the day I die I will give you everything that you need. I fear that that day is now upon us.”
“Before I go, my own dying wish is to ask you one last time what is that you still need from me. Tell me now, so that I can go in peace.” said the father as he looked into his older son Cain.
“Father, my whole life I have worked hard by your side,” said Cain. “Every day I learned how to work the lands. My last wish is that you leave all the lands onto my name. As tradition has it, the older son should inherit the lands of thy father. I should carry on your work in your name.”
“I see,” said the dying father. “Tradition and customs are to be respected. But what about your brother Abel? If I give you everything I have, then your brother will have nothing. Where will he live? Which lands can he call his own?”
Cain gazed into his father’s eyes: “Am I thy brother’s keeper? Abel is young and able. He can create his own lands. He can create his own home.”
Realizing that his eldest son needed everything from him, the father turned his eyes to his younger son. Knowing that he can give him nothing, he still wanted to know what is it that Abel needed.
“And you, my child of the night, what is it that you still demand of me. What is something that I have not given you in life so that you shall inherit after my death?”
“Father, in this life you have given me everything I needed. I wish for nothing, for I have all the love you have given me. You can find peace in the knowledge that you have given me everything.”
A grin of satisfaction appeared on the face of the father. He could give his sons everything that they still needed from him. One wanted everything, while the other wanted nothing.
“Abel, I find joy in the fact that I have given you everything. My heart is beating with delight. But I insist that you take something of mine. As a token of remembrance, you must take something to remember me in the times when I will no longer be by your side.”
Nobody could dare to shy away from the wish of the dying. It was a tradition to always grant the wishes of those who were doomed to leave the earthly lands and depart into the heavens.
Abel thought for a few seconds. While thinking about how to remember his father, an idea came to his head.
“As a token of your remembrance father, I will take all the books you have read. The books that are gathering dust in the basement, if my brother allows, I shall take with me into unknown lands. Every time I shall need guidance from a wise father, in your books I shall seek the answer.”
“I care not for books,” declared Cain.” You shall take all the books.”
That night, the spirit of the father left their two sons.
He had given them everything they needed. With his last dying breath, he wished them all the happiness in the world. With the last beat of his dying heart, he wished that the Lord would offer them His guidance in their times of need.
Cain inherited all the lands of his father. Abel, the young soul, upon gathering his books, ventured into lands unknown. In their new directions in life, only God knew which of them took the more righteous path.
Seven years went by. Many harvests were had. Many feasts were devoured by Cain. Since he inherited the lands of his father, he got married and started his own family. He became the head of the household just like his father used to be. He begot his own sons, and just as his father taught him, he taught his own sons how to grow crops and work the land.
What happened to his brother Abel, nobody really knew. After the death of their father, the two brothers separated. After Abel departed with his father’s books, he never returned back to his father’s house. There was no word of what had happened to Abel. Perhaps he was still wandering the Earth, or maybe he had settled somewhere. Nobody knew of his destiny, not even his own brother Cain.
For seven years Cain lived in abundance of feasts and harvests. The lands, however, had a limit to their harvest. After giving and giving for years, the fertile soils that produced an abundance of food became barren. Even the Earth’s soil had a limit in the nourishment it could provide to all its children. The lands that Cain inherited became infertile, and food became scarce. Harsh times were on the horizon for Cain and his family.
Since Cain had no canned food, starvation enveloped their household. Not knowing what to do, Cain watched his own sons starve for days. Unbearable suffering came upon their household.
One day, a thought came to Cain’s head. Cain decided that he should go look for his brother Abel. His brother was all he had left in this world. Perhaps Abel would be able to help him in these desperate times.
Cain informed his wife one day and ventured into the lands to seek his young brother. He followed Abel’s footsteps, he traced his brothers for days and nights. He walked to all the places his brothers walked. Eventually, he arrived in a grand city the likes of which his eyes had never seen before.
The city was enveloped in riches. Golden arcs were swirling from the tall buildings that extended to the heavens. The roads shined like diamonds and reflected the clearness of the skies. Cain was losing himself in the grand city in which he had just arrived.
Walking through the city, in the center of the greatest city on earth, he saw the face of his own brother Abel. Abel was standing in front of a crowd and talking to the people. Abel once upon a time used to be a shepherd but now he was herding men. Abel had become a true herdsman.
Everyone in the crowd looked up to Abel. It appeared that in him all the people saw their savior. It looked like it was Abel that had provided all the riches to all the people of the city. Abel was their savior. Cain too was looking to be saved by his brother Abel.
Cain waited patiently for his brother to finish his talks. Eventually, he approached Abel, for he too wanted to talk to the man that everyone else wanted to talk to.
Upon seeing the face of his brother, Abel jumped in his embrace. After seven long years, the two brothers embraced each other. Cain was happy to finally find his brother, and Abel was delighted to see Cain again. They had so many things to share with each other.
Cain told Abel the stories of how he lived. He told him how he got married. He told him about all the sons he had, all the harvests that they harvested.
Abel shared with his brother all the wisdom that he had found in his father’s books. Through that wisdom, he was able to erect this magical city with the help of all the people he had helped. Abel had so much wisdom that he was able to share all his wisdom with all the people. Together, they became rich beyond imagination.
There were many stories that the brothers shared with each other. Eventually, Cain decided to tell his brother the real reason why he ventured to seek him.
“My dear brother,” said Cain “the lands that our father left me have become barren. My family is now starving. I have come to seek you in hopes that you can bestow some grace upon our starving souls.”
“Through sheer luck, I was able to find you, Abel. Luck has followed me, but more luck seemed to have followed you. You have now become rich. You have more land than you know what to do with. Since I am your brother, I have come to ask you to give me a small piece of your land. I wish to move to this grand city, and work on these lands so I can feed the mouths of my own family. Do you dare to give me some piece of your land, brother?” asked Cain in desperation.
“O, brother” answered Abel, “I dare to give you more than just a piece of land. I dare to give you the whole city if you ask me. I dare to give you the whole world. Everything that is mine shall be yours.”
“But my dear brother, if I give you a piece of land, in a few years this land will also become barren. If I give you the whole city, in a few decades the whole city will crumble if you are not wise enough to maintain it.”
“I shall give you no land nor cities, my brother. I shall give you the greatest gift in this world. The greatest gift is the gift of knowing how to think for yourself. I will give you all the books that I took from our father. I will give you the books I have written out of all the stories our father had shared with me in the nights of darkness. In these books and stories, you should find the light and wisdom to guide you in life. That would be my greatest gift.”
“A man that doesn’t know how to think has many problems. But the man who has learned how to think for himself has no problems since all problems are problems of our thought. Every problem is a problem of our own thinking. Once we learn how to think for ourselves, all problems vanish like the ebb and flow of time.”
“My brother, take these books now and go back to your family. Teach your sons the wisdom written in these books so they too will know how to think for themselves.”
Abel gave all his books to his brother Cain. He also gave him wheels of food to take back to his starving family. Cain took the gifts from his brother and ventured back home to his village. The village which was away from all civilization.
When Cain returned home, his family rejoiced in the blessings their father brought back home. His family had food again. The old books that a long time ago left the basement had returned back home again. But this time Cain decided to give the books a chance. He decided to try to read his father’s books.
Days and night, Cain gazed into the books. He read and read, but no wisdom was coming to his head. He read stories of angels and devils, heroes and cowards but none of the stories told him how to grow food, how to become rich or how to become wise. Cain couldn’t extract the same jewels of wisdom that Abel was able to extract in his younger years. Unable to extricate the wisdom from his dead father, Cain’s spirit grew in contempt. He started feeling worthless. Cain was truly a man of the ground, and grounded men were unable to learn the thoughts of others.
Cain was a simple and decent man after all. All he ever wanted was to work on his land and provide for his family.
One day, when Cain’s spirit got filled with hostility towards the books that taught him nothing useful, Cain decided to do the unthinkable. Cain decided that he shall burn all these books. He decided to convert the pages of wisdom into pieces of ashes. If the fire of wisdom could not burn into his spirit, at least the fire would burn in front of his eyes. So, Cain burned all the books that Abel gave him. He burned all the books of his wise father.
Having no books of wisdom, nor lands of freedom, Cain got filled with envy. On a dark night, he traveled back to the kingdom of his brother. Once he arrived there, he waited for his brother to come into an open field. As the sun was rising in the East, Cain saw an opportunity to approach his young brother.
Upon seeing his brother Abel opened his arms in order to embrace Cain again. But instead of his embrace, he found a cold sword of truth rippling through his chest. Cain rose up upon Abel and slew him to death. Cain took his sword and in cold-blooded anger, he killed his younger brother Abel.
Cain killed his own brother. He took the life of the little boy of the night who brought all the light into the world. Cain killed the only man in the world who was able to think for himself. Ever since that dark day, the world was forever embellished in darkness.
The people of the golden city lost their leader. They lost their only thinker. In a few decades, the whole grand city crumbled under its own weight. It was Cain, Abel’s brother who had cursed the golden city to ruins. It was Cain that left his dark mark in the city of light.
Ever since that day, seven whole generations of Cain and his descendants were cursed to live in poverty. For seven generations people of the village lived in starvation, and much like everyone else, barely persisted in this world. To persist was not that proper way of living. That was not how life was supposed to be lived on Earth.
Ever since that dark day, all the people, while lost in their own thoughts aimlessly meandered the Earth. People, lost in their own thoughts, kept asking each other how to live, how to love, how to be, how to become. Nobody was wise enough to ask the only question that they all needed to know. The only real answer that they needed was to know how to think. Since those who know how to think, know how to live, how to love, how to be and become.
And you, who are now reading this, have you read the books of your own father? Have you read the books of stories and fables that teach you how to think? Did you catch the hidden jewel of this story? Do you now know how to think for yourself?
If you can’t learn how to think for yourself, to whom else will you bestow such privilege?