From: Christian Stories of Wisdom
A man caught a small bird. “I am no use to you as a captive,” the bird said to him, “but give me back my freedom and I will give you three pieces of advice that will be more useful than the miserable scrap of flesh that you might garner from my small body.”
The bird said it would give the first piece of advice while still in the man’s hand, the second from a nearby branch, and the third from the top of the mountain.
The winged creature was scrawny, so the man accepted. The bird’s first piece of advice was this: “If you lose something – even if you value it as much as your life – do not be distressed.”
The man released the bird, which then settled on a branch. It ruffled its feathers and said, “Here is my second piece of advice: Never believe without evidence anything which is contrary to common sense.”
The man grunted.
“What foolish remarks. This advice is commonplace.”
Having finally reached the mountain top, the bird said:
“What a shame! My body conceals two enormous precious stones. If you had killed me they would have been yours!”
The man stamped his foot, pulled his hair out, rolled in the grass, and shouted:
“Bird, you have well and truly swindled me when you could have made me supremely happy! Mind I don’t catch you again!”
But all of a sudden he stopped.
“And the third piece of advice? You owe me another one, you thief!”
“Imbecile,” replied the bird, “you want a third piece of advice when you have not paid the least bit of attention to the first two. I told you not to fret if you lose something and not to believe things that contradict common sense. Now you are upset about having lost two enormous precious stones, when all you had to do was look at me to see that my body could contain just one small jewel at most!”
Whereupon the bird flew away, free at last from any further concern with its appearance.