The Shaman sat quietly by the pool just outside his village, with the young boy who had worked his way into his heart over the previous four weeks.
The air was still and the surface of the pool was calm and mirror-like, reflecting a blue sky flecked with a few white clouds. For some time they did not speak. A mesmeric peace had descended all around, causing both of them to enter a trance-like reverie.
With a sharp intake of breath, the young boy suddenly snapped out of his reverie. He turned to the Shaman who looked deep into his eyes and smiled. He did not need to say anything. They had shared the Silence which spoke clearly of everything and nothing.
After a few moments the Shaman picked up a small stone and tossed it into the centre of the pool, causing ripples to radiate out towards the shore.
"Do you see the ripples?" the Shaman asked the boy.
"Yes, of course, I see them clearly," the boy answered eagerly. He recognised a tone in the Shaman's voice and eagerly anticipated what he was going to say next.
"Are they real?" the Shaman asked further.
"Yes, they are real. I can see them with my own eyes," the boy answered.
"Does that mean they are real?" asked the Shaman once more. He reached for a bowl which lay on the ground by his side. "Take this bowl," he said to the boy. "Take it and fetch me some ripples. Bring them to me."
The boy took the bowl in his hand. Feeling a little foolish he went down to the water's edge and tried to scoop up some ripples in the bowl. Then he returned to the Shaman's side.
"Did you get them?" the Shaman asked. The boy held out the bowl for the Shaman to see. "Where are the ripples?" he asked.
"I cannot collect ripples in a bowl," the boy protested.
"Why not?" the Shaman asked. "You just said that they were real. You can see them with your own eyes. What is it that you have collected?"
"It is some water, master," the boy answered. The Shaman picked up a small stick and dipped the end of it in the centre of the bowl of water, once again causing ripples to radiate out towards its edges.
"Do you see the ripples?" he asked the boy once more.
"Yes, I see them," the boy confirmed.
"Are they real?" the Shaman asked for the second time. This time the boy remained silent. The Shaman waited a few moments before speaking again, allowing the boy to contemplate.
"On the surface you may see many dancing patterns, but always remember the substance in which the patterns dance," the Shaman finally said. The boy looked out over the pond, where the ripples had now died down and the clear blue sky was once more wonderfully reflected.
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