One man, tired of his empty and pointless existence, heard of a great oracle, a sage who knew the answers to all questions, living atop a lonely mountain. So the man went in search of the oracle. After walking long and hard, at the end of his strength, he finally found the place.
He entered the hut, carrying a gift he had brought for the oracle – a bird in a cage – he thought would provide welcome company for the lonely man.
The oracle was seated on a mat, motionless and silent.
“Greetings, Oh Great Oracle,” said the man. “I have brought you a little gift, a bird, which I humbly beg you to accept.”
The oracle spoke not, nor looked at the proffered cage, but simply gestured for the man to sit down facing him.
“Oh Great Oracle,” began the man. “I have walked long and hard to find you. I have left behind my home, my family, my tasks, for life has grown stale and tepid in my mouth. Tell me, you who know everything: How do I find meaning in life?”
The oracle said not a word.
After a long pause, during which the man uncomfortably tried to glean the Oracle’s intention, he suddenly perked up. “Oh, I see. Just as I thought. I must find the answer within myself, right? Yes… Only how do I look for this answer? This you surely must know.”
Still the oracle was silent. After a yet longer pause, as the man furrowed his brow trying to understand why the oracle refused to answer, he suddenly beamed.
“Ah yes, now I see. What you’ve been trying to tell me all along is that I am asking the wrong questions. Of course, of course… And yet – what then is the right question? Now this you must tell me.”
And still the oracle was silent. The silence stretched on, almost reaching the snapping point. And then, just as the man felt he was on the brink of discovery, the oracle rose from his seat and silently pointed downward.
“What’s that? Ah, you mean if I sit in your place for a while I will know? Well, why not?”
So the man sat on the vacated mat and closed his eyes in anticipation.
The other picked up the cage and went to the door. There he opened the cage and watched the bird fly away.
Then he turned and faced the one sitting on the mat, motionless and silent. “Farewell, Oh Great Oracle,” he said with a smile. And was gone.