The young man who was the ringleader of the gang which had been causing all the trouble in the community was summoned to sit at the fire with the elder and the warrior.
It was already dark and the elder took some time to fill his long pipe. The other two waited for him to begin speaking. They sat in the golden glow of the fire in a lengthening silence, the younger man growing increasingly restless and irritated as it stretched on. The warrior sat strong and powerful. He deferred to the elder and threw occasional glances of angry disdain at the younger man’s callous impatience.
The elder, fully engaged with his task, seemed oblivious to the growing tension – yet he was not. He was choosing his time. When he finally spoke his tone was soft and gentle. Turning to the young man he asked, “What is it you need?”
The young man, who had perfected his mask of arrogant nonchalance, sneered at this question, “Need? My boys and I don’t need anything! We do what we want. We are powerful. If we need something, we take it.”
The warrior moved restlessly, clearly wanting to meet this challenge. The elder made no show of recognising this. The warrior sat still.
“But what of feelings?”
Now the young man really laughed, “Feelings? They only cause trouble! I tried those in my early days and learned fast – they only hurt. They make you weak. They trip you up. I have no need for those.”
The warrior couldn’t hold back any more, “You are scared of a little pain so you cut yourself off from your feelings? You are afraid they will trip you up? How can you call that power? Having the skill and stamina to feel and listen to your feelings is the real strength? A real man honours and respects his feelings as highest guidance. That is true power. If you weren’t so afraid of your feelings you might find true happiness and peace. You wouldn’t have to live in emptiness and fear the way you do now.”
Seeing that something about what he said had affected the young man in some way he took a breath to continue but then saw the elder give an almost imperceptible shake of his head. It took all his years of training to remain silent.
The elder lit his pipe and passed it around between them.
It was enough. The awakening had begun.