Learning to Evaluate Others from Outside of My Umbrella

Xue Jialin

PureInsight | October 31, 2005

[PureInsight.org] At sunset on a summer day I was reading next to a window in my house. A thunderstorm suddenly broke out and a stranger ran under the eaves of my house trying to hide from the rain. From outside of my window, he smiled and greeted me. I smiled courteously in return. All of sudden, I spotted a long scar on his neck which could only be from a knife cut. The cut apparently had not been stitched up properly and hence left him with a bumpy scar resembling a centipede on his neck, which appeared rather frightening.

The stranger was about 30 years old. He was wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt with greasy stains. The sleeves were tight because of the muscles on his biceps. He was a powerfully built man. Because of the frightening scar and his muscular build, I immediately decided that he must get into fights a lot.

The stranger asked courteously to borrow an umbrella from me and also begged for a cup of water. I hesitated for a few seconds. "Will he return the umbrella to me? Is he a villain? Would I be in any danger by opening up the window and obliging him?" I thought to myself. Finally, I produced a broken umbrella that had been put away for years and passed it to him through the window. But I didn't give him any water. "I have run out of water," I said in an apologetic manner. He didn't say anything else. He took the umbrella and took leave. He had walked for only a few steps before he slipped and almost took a fall. It was not until then that I noticed that he was handicapped. Remorse immediately followed. I regretted not giving him anything to drink. I was overcome with the feeling of guilt for my lack of charity and my excessive self-protection.

On the following morning, the stranger returned on a bicycle to give the umbrella back to me. I was pleasantly surprised to see him returning the umbrella to me. When I took the umbrella, it felt somewhat different. I opened up the umbrella only to find that he had repaired the umbrella in every detail and made it neat and fully functional again. I was so overwhelmed that I didn't know what to say.

I invited him home and offered him a glass of milk. Soon I learned that he was not a villain at all, but an ordinary factory worker. A year ago he was fired from work after he injured himself at work. He got the scar on the neck for stopping a crime on a bus. Suddenly my feeling of guilt increased.

There are many similar incidents in our life where we judge others based on our prejudice and later discover that we have been blind to the truth. Like the view from inside an umbrella, our prejudice will limit our view of the truth. We need to be open-minded in order to view the whole world from outside the umbrella. By doing so, we will be doing a lot of good to others and ourselves.

Translated from: http://www.xinsheng.net/xs/articles/big5/2002/5/23/15043.htm

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