A soft breeze tickled Nin’s nose. He opened his eyes.
Shadows cast from the branches of a giant fig tree danced on the grass by his feet. A cobra lay sleeping peacefully, encircling Nin like a protective seal. A pale day-moon hung in the sky.
He had returned.
Nin woke from his trance to find himself someplace new.
It was an odd place, a place of stillness and quiet. The sky was dark and cloudless. The ground was a pale grey, speckled with pot-marks and small, strange craters. He took a few cautious steps forward. A thin coat of dust puffed and died with every step.
Nin sat beneath a lone fig tree and despaired. How had it come to this? How had he been led astray? What was preventing him from finding the truth that lies buried at the heart of the world?
Was there some flaw in him?
Nin came upon a farm. In his younger days he would have disparaged the animals here as tame and dull, but now he was a little older, and a little wiser and thought perhaps they warranted further evaluation.
There are many tales in the animal kingdom of great work—and great effort. As Nin considered his next move, two similar stories jumped out at him: the story of the crow and the story of the donkey, both of which I will now briefly relate: