Hungry For Wisdom?


Hungry For Wisdom?

"I read this story many years ago. And have reread it many times over the years. It has the same effect on me each time I review it." (Malcolm du Plessis)

"Socrates, do you have a few minutes for me. I would like for you to impart some of your wisdom to me."

Socrates did not say a word in response, but he beckoned the young man to follow him and led him down the windy path to the ocean until he was chest deep in water. Then he looked him in the eye and asked him directly: "What is it that you are wanting from me, young man?"

"Wisdom and knowledge, Socrates."

With no warning or preparation, Socrates put his strong hands on the man's shoulders and forcefully pushed him down under the water and held him there for thirty long seconds. When Socrates eventually let him up, he gave him a minute to catch his breath but did not let him out of his grip, and he asked him again. "Do tell me one more time, son - what is it that you said you were desiring?"

"Wisdom," the young man spluttered, "O master Socrates." Once again, without speaking a word and without letting him out of his grip, Socrates plunged him again under the water, forcefully. Thirty seconds passed. Thirty-five. Forty. Then Socrates let him up. By this time the man was peuse and gasping for breath. With the same sense of purposefulness, Socates gave him time to calm down a little and then looked him in the eyes. "One more time – tell me what it is that you are wanting, young man?"

Between heavy, heaving breaths, and with bewilderment the fellow wheezed, "Knowledge, O wise and wonderful..." Without letting him finish, Socrates jammed him under again. Forty seconds passed. Fifty. Until he nearly passed out. As he came up out of the water, hyperventilating and gasping desperately for air, Socrates asked one more time, without giving him much opportunity to recover: "What is it that you were wanting?"

"Air!" he yelled. "I need air!"

“Didn’t you say that you were wanting wisdom?”

“Right now I just need air. Else I will die. What are you doing? Are you trying to drown me?”

"Let me tell you, young man, when you crave for wisdom as much as you have just craved for air, as if your life depended on it – and only then – you will find it."



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