In India, there was a wealthy merchant. After taking over the business from his father while he was still in his early twenties, the business began to flourish. As the man got older, he realized that a wife would only try to take the empire that his family had worked so hard to build and on his 33rd birthday, he took a vow of celibacy.
After many years of trading all over the world, the Merchant began to get very lonely. Every person that he interacted with either feared his wealth and status, or wanted to use his wealth and status for some sort of personal agenda. The Merchant desperately wanted to be treated as an equal; to have a conversation with a peer.
While trading with some African Natives, the Merchant began talking to a very old and very wise African Shaman. The Shaman took the Merchant back to his village where he treated the merchant to a feast and wine. For many hours the Merchant drank and ate.
At the end of the night, the shaman brought the merchant in real close and said, “I have a solution for your terrible loneliness. Take my pet bird. I have granted it the power to speak.” Amazed, the merchant did as he was told.
Over the course of the next few months the merchant and his bird became the very best of friends. They would stay up all hours of the night talking, the merchant would get the birds advice on various business dealings, and the merchant was finally fulfilled.
Before his next trip to Africa, the merchant asked the bird, “Is there anything you would like me to tell your friends and family?”
“Why, yes,” the bird replied. “Please tell them that I’ve never been happier in my cage.”
The merchant repeated the message to the birds in Africa, and one bird suddenly went stiff as a board, eyes wide and filled with tears. Then suddenly the bird fell from tree to ground, apparently lifeless. Feeling horrible, the merchant returned to his dear friend and relayed his experience. All of the sudden the bird went stiff and wide-eyed, just like his counterpart. The bird fell to the bottom of his cage, seemingly dead.
With tears in his eyes, the merchant picked up his deceased friend and took him outside. The second his set the bird on the ground, the bird suddenly sprung to life and flew up into a tree, out of the reach of the merchant.
“Oh!” the merchant yelled in shock. “What is the meaning of all of this?” he shouted at the frustrating realization that he had just been played.
“Listen close,” the bird said. “In order to be free from your cage, you must learn to die during your life.”