What if there were a way to be certain so one would "never stray in any matter"? Leo Tolstoy—one of the giants of 19th century Russian literature—begins his story with three questions that occur to a certain king, who is certain that the answers will provide him all the guidance he needs for the rest of his reign and the rest of his life. Eager for such guidance, the king offers a reward to any wise teacher in the land who can answer his three questions. Many come for the reward—but each gives different advice. Finally, the king resolves to ask a mountain-dwelling hermit who is "said to be an enlightened man." The hermit will not answer the king directly; but one day and many toils later, he is able to show the king the answers to his questions in a surprising and unexpected way.
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What Men Live By and Other Tales by Leo Tolstoy, Translated by L. and A. Maude (Stratford Company, 1918) pages 34-38
How do we identify desired outcomes? Who decides?What is the impact of our actions - on ourselves and others?What should our goals be? What is the best way to identify them?Does truth vary across cultures or is it universal?How do I know that I am making a difference? Is it possible to know?How much do we need to know in order to act?What is the value of uncertainty?What motivates us to act in the world?Where do our values come from? Why do we care about what we care about?Why do we serve?