phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by Bruce Kahl on October 24, 2003

In Reply to: Meaning posted by Priya on October 24, 2003

: The other day I read this Tibetian proverb :

: A man without wickedness needs no punishment.
: -- Without an ax no tree can be cut down.

: Would anyone know what it means?

The Man with the Goiter
A man without wickedness needs no punishment.
-- Without an ax no tree can be cut down.
Tibetan proverb.

A long time ago, in a lonely country among the mountains, there lived a man with a big goiter on his neck, and he owned a cow. One day the cow wandered away. The man went out to find her, but had to go so far from home that he could not get back that night. Looking around he found two caves, one big one and one little one, and decided to spend the night in the little one.

As he went in and sat down cross-legged on the ground, he began talking the affair over with himself, saying, "My cow is lost and I can not find her, and I have nothing to eat. I am far away from home and can't get back, and I have to stay out here, and I am very much afraid."

Now the big cave was the place where all the ghosts met, but in the small cave only one ghost had his home. This ghost went over to the big cave to the assembly of ghosts and told them there was a man in his cave. They told him to go back and bring him over to them and they would eat him, but he pleaded with them and said, "Please don't kill the man, for I am his landlord, and it wouldn't be good for me if you did so." He told them, too, that the man had a big goiter on his throat.

Then they said to him, "Go and cut that goiter off his neck and bring it over here, and we will eat that."

"All right, that will do," he said, and slipped back into his own cave. He cut the goiter off and took it to them, but when they saw it they said it was too big, it wasn't fit to eat, and they left it in the cave. When the man wakened in the morning he had no goiter and was pleased as could be. He soon found his cow and started down the mountain.

When he got home without his goiter, another man who had one came and asked him how he got rid of his. He told of all of his adventures and the mysterious disappearance of the thing. The other man thought he would do the same and get rid of his. He drove his cow up on the mountain and then went to find her, hid in a cave and talked to himself about the cow that was lost, saying that he could not find her and that he would have to stay there all night. The ghosts assembled again in the big cave, and the one who dwelt in the small cave told them again he had a guest, and they of course wanted to eat him. But he begged them not to, saying that he would cut off the goiter and bring that over.

"Pouf, who wants to eat goiter?" We have already got one we don't like. Take that and stick it on the back of his neck."

When the man wakened in the morning he thought something nice had happened to him, but when he felt his neck there was his goiter just the same. Then the back of his neck felt queer and he put his hand there and found the other one. Then he was very angry and took his cow and went home and never came out again where people could see him.

© 1997 – 2024 All rights reserved.