LONG AGO, IN THE LAND OF CATHAY, a young Chinese lad apprenticed himself to a venerable doctor, a man learned in the secrets of Nature. The old wise master taught the apprentice to know herbs and how to gather them at just the right time. He then schooled the boy in preparing the plants to treat all manner of ailments. Eagerly, the lad absorbed all he was taught, became an excellent student, and began to work alongside his great teacher. The apprentice grew into a man with considerable skills.
In time he went to his master and said to him, “Wise one, you have taught me well and I am now ready to return to my village to help my own people.”
“Not yet!” said his master. “There is but one more test you must pass. You must take these 12 small jars to the mountains and fill them with plants that have no purpose.”
Somewhat perplexed, the apprentice trudged off to the mountains. Days became weeks, turning into long months. Finally, in complete despair, he returned dejected and weary. Falling at the feet of the old doctor, the young man cried, “I have failed, Master. I have found no plants without a purpose.”
The aged wise man smiled gently and said to his young student, “No, my son, you have passed the test. You may now go heal your people.”