True Worth

Long ago, in Egypt, there lived a famous saint called Zun-Nun. A young man came to him and asked ‘Teacher, I don’t understand why people like you dress so simply. Isn’t it necessary in this age to dress neatly?’ The saint smiled, took a ring from one of his pockets and said, ‘Young friend, I will answer your question, but first take this ring to the market and try to sell it for a chip of gold.’ Looking at Zun-Nun's dirty ring, the young man was doubtful, ‘One chip of gold? I’m not sure it can be sold at that price.’ ‘Try, young man, who knows you may do it.’ The young man goes to the market. He offers the ring to the textile, vegetable, meat, fish and traders. No one was willing to pay a chip of gold. He goes back to Zun-Nun and says, ‘Teacher, no body offers more than one chip of silver.’ With a wise smile Zun-Nun said, ‘Now go to the Gold Shop at the back of this street, show this to the gold trader. Don’t give your price, just listen how much he will pay for this ring.’

The young man went and returned. He said, ‘Teacher, the traders in the market don't know the value of this ring. The gold trader offered one thousand gold coins, far more than what the traders in the market offer. Zun-Nun said, ‘That’s the answer to your question. Someone cannot be valued only from his dress. The traders in the market gave face value for the ring. But not the gold trader. The gold inside someone can only be seen and valued if you could look at the inner soul. It needs special insight to see. We cannot see it from the words, attitude or dress that are only seen for a while. Many times what we think is a gold, is only worthless brass and vice versa.