The young professor and the old layman

On board of a big ship a simple old man met a young professor and they started to have conversations along the journey. Every night the man came to the professor’s cabin, trying to learn something from the learned man.

On the first night, the professor asked: ‘Old man, do you know what Geology is?’
‘Oh, Professor Sir, I never went to school, I know nothing about Geology. Could you tell me what it is?’ replied the man.
‘Oh, poor old man, you don’t know what geology is. It’s the science of the earth. You’ve wasted a quarter of your life.’ said the professor.
The old man felt so sad, if the professor said that he wasted a quarter of his life than it must be true.

On the second night, the two men met again and the professor asked: ‘Old man, do you know what Oceanology is?’
‘Professor Sir, I am just a simple man, I don’t know that Oceanology is. What is that sir?’ replied the old man.
And the professor said: ‘Oh, poor old man, you don’t know what oceanology is. We are sailing and you don’t know the science of the sea. You’ve wasted half of your life.’ The old man felt so sad, so incredibly sad, he just found out that he wasted half of his life.

On the third night, still eager to learn, the old man came to the professor’s cabin and was asked: ‘Old man, do you know what Meteorology is?’
‘Professor Sir, you know I am just a simple man, I don’t know that Meteorology is.’ reply the old man.
‘Oh, poor old man, you don’t know what geology is; you also don’t know what oceanology is. And now you don’t know what meteorology is. It’s the science of the sky and the weather. You’ve wasted three quarter of your life,’ said the professor.
The old man felt so sad, so incredibly sad, he just found out that he wasted three quarter of his life.

On the fourth night, the old man ran into the professor and start asking: ‘Professor Sir, Professor Sir, do you know swimmology?’
‘Old man, I know a lot of things, but I’ve never heard of swimmology. What is that?’ replied the professor.
‘Do you know how to swim, Sir?’ Asked the old man.
‘To swim? I didn’t have time to learn how to swim; I was busy learning other things. I can’t swim,’ said the professor.
‘Oh poor professor, you’ve wasted all of your life. If you had known swimmology, you could have swim to the shore because the ship is sinking now.’ said the old man.

Origin: Dhamma 10 days discourse by S.N Goenka

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