In the forest of Qian, a sprinkle of snow announced the early winter. Ambling through his domain and picking herbs the old sage encountered three young men from the nearby village.
One of them said to the old man, “Why are you living out here old man? It’s terribly cold at night. Why don’t you come back to the village where there’s company, where it’s cosy and warm? You will be much better.”
The old sage regarded the young men and said, “Yes the village is outwardly warm but the coldness is on the inside. I prefer the warm within and cold without.”
Bemused, the young men wandered back in the direction of the village.
That evening the old man sat near his hut by a fire. After a time he lay down gazing into the flames, eventually dozing and falling into a deep sleep.
Before long, animals from the forest gathered round and they too fell asleep. Soon thereafter the fire turned to ash but the animals stayed with the old man.
At first light the animals moved back into the forest and as the first rays of the sun penetrated through the trees the old sage awoke. He picked himself up and through the branches observed the sun, thinking to himself — fire is indeed a beautiful thing.
Blessings and Peace
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