Life Lesson: On Holding Your Anger

photo from http://www.eaglehunter.co.uk

Genghis Khan and His Falcon

an excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s story on Genghis Khan and His Falcon in the book Like A Flowing River

One morning, the Mongol warrior, Genghis Khan, and his court went out hunting. His companions carried bows and arrows, but Genghis Khan carried on his arm his favorite falcon, which was better and surer than any arrow, because it could fly up into the skies and see everything that a human being could not

However, despite the group’s enthusiastic efforts, they found nothing. Disappointed, Genghis Khan returned to the encampment and in order not to take out his frustration on his companions, he left the rest of the party and rode on alone. They had stayed in the forest for longer than expected, and Khan was desperately tired and thirsty. In the summer heat, all the streams had dried up, and he could find nothing to drink. Then, to his amazement, he saw a thread of water flowing from a rock just in front of him.

He removed the falcon from his arm, and took out the silver cup which he always carried with him. It was very slow to fill, and just when he was about to raise it to his lips, the falcon flew up, plucked the cup from his hands, and dashed it to the ground.

Genghis Khan was furious, but then the falcon was his favorite, and perhaps, it, too, was thirsty. He picked up the cup, cleaned off the dirt, and filled it again. When the cup was only half-empty this time, the falcon again attacked it, spilling the water.

Genghis Khan adored this bird, but he knew that he could not, under any circumstances, allow such disrespect; someone might be watching this scene from afar, and later on, would tell his warriors that the great conqueror was incapable of taming a mere bird.

This time, he drew his sword, picked up the cup and refilled it, keeping one eye on the stream and the other on the falcon. As soon as he had enough water in the cup and was ready to drink, the falcon again took flight and flew towards him. Khan, with one thrust, pierced the bird’s breast.

The thread of water, however, had dried up; but Khan, determined to find something to drink, climbed the rock in search of the spring. To his surprise, there really was a pool of water, and in the middle of it, dead, lay one of the most poisonous snakes in the region. If he had drink the water, he, too, would have died.

Khan returned to camp with the dead falcon in his arms. He ordered a gold figurine of the bird to be made and on one of the wings, he had engraved:

“Even when a friend does something you do not like, he continues to be your friend.”

And on the other wing, he had these words engraved:

“Any action committed in anger is an action doomed to failure.”

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