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1,000 years ago, on a moonlit night, a priest dreamed that Buddha told him where to find three springs with magical powers. This gave the priest much happiness.

Later, when the sun was shining, Buddha turned these springs into three wonderful waterfalls surrounded by trees. Each waterfall confers a different blessing on one who drinks of its waters. One confers health, another wisdom, and the third, love. But no one knows which waterfall brings which blessing.

If you are greedy and drink from all three, you will receive no blessing at all.

* * *

“So,” I asked Connor, my twelve-year old. “Suppose you want one of these blessings really bad. Let’s say health. What do you do?”

He smiled — he loves puzzles — and sank down into himself for a full minute.

At last he emerged. “Okay, I’ve got it.”

“Hit me.”

“Bring a friend who is sick. Have him drink from two of the waterfalls.” He flashed his braces at me. “If he gets healthy, drink from the same two waterfalls. If he doesn’t, drink from the other one.”

Clever boy!

Connor on stile
Connor in Upper Brailes, Oxfordshire, UK
October 2004

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.