1. God and the Banana: A Story
2. Proving God
- from an unknown source - retold by Joost
upon a time, there were two countries, each reigned by a king. Both
countries were deeply religious and they had strong ideas about
how to behave towards God. Unfortunately their opinions were quite
different, not to say fundamentally different.
of the two countries, for instance, they would say, "If you
utter God's name you have to look up to the heavens, because that's
where God is." The other country would strongly deny this.
"When you talk about God, you should look down, otherwise you
are not being humble."
Another example of basic differences
between their beliefs was about how to honour God. "If you
want to do something for God, you have to pray constantly and burn
incense." "No, outrageous! You have to chant His name,
and put fresh flowers on every altar."
And then there
was the issue about how many angels would fit on the point of a
needle, and that was a serious problem because the two countries
wouldn't agree about the size of the needle.
they differed so much on cardinal points of their beliefs that it
was increasingly impossible for them to quietly exist next to each
other, pretending that there was no herd of heathens living just
over the border.
In the end the kings of the two countries
agreed about only one thing: there had to be a war to prove who
was right. So the religious leaders in the first country assured
its army that it had nothing to fear because God was on their side,
and the priests in the second country proclaimed solemnly that God
wanted their soldiers to win so all could fight and die in peace.
Fighting and dying was done on a big scale in the following
years, but in spite of the optimistic propaganda on both sides of
the border, it was not really clear to the kings of the two countries
whom God was supporting. When the war entered its tenth year the
two kings decided that something had to be done about the impasse.
They planned to personally preside a top conference about
a peace treaty, with hundreds of lawyers and ministers and the best
small print-specialists of both countries, but somehow the negotiations
got stuck in the preliminary phase. The experts couldn't come to
an agreement about the number of people involved and the form of
the table they would use during the top conference.
one night the two kings met secretly with only the company of two
platoons of security personnel. They came to a quick decision. "We
need advice from somebody." they said to each other. "Somebody
who doesn't belong to either of our countries and who knows all
Then they remembered that exactly on
the border, in the forests there, an old and respected saint was
living. He was said to know everything about God. So they went there
and each of the kings explained that he himself was completely right
about his approach to God and that if you talk about God you have
to look up -no down!- and they almost started fighting in their
The saint looked dismayed and disappeared
for a while. When he came back he had a banana in his hands, and
bananas were quite rare in those countries. They didn't grow there
and they were not imported. (Nobody ever found out where the saint
got it from.) The saint asked the two kings: "Have you ever
eaten this fruit?" and the kings said they hadn't.
"Do you know what it's called?" the saint asked. One king
said proudly that he had read about it and therefore he knew that
it was called a banana. The other king looked at him in contempt
and declared that he himself had had a great-grandfather who according
to the glorious annals of his country had visited a place where
they grew these fruits, and the people there had told him personally
that the name of it was pisang.
the first king said. "How dare you doubt the wisdom accumulated
in my royal library? The name is banana!" "Such impudence!
You are challenging the wisdom of my great-grandfather! The name
"It's a banana!"
Then the saint
interfered. "A sword. " he said calmly. "Give me
When one of the kings had given him his
sword, he cut the banana in two pieces. "To know it, you have
to taste it." he declared. Both kings started chewing on their
piece of banana, and the first one said after a short time: "This
is very tasty." The second king hated to agree with his collegue
but he had to admit it -it tasted very good. After some silence
and pondering the first king said: "Actually, I don't mind
so much how you call it -the taste is more important." The
other king thought deeply and said: "Yes, I agree. It's not
the name. The essence is the taste."
The saint said:
"Exactly. I hope that you understand why I gave you this banana.
You're talking about God, but have you actually experienced God?"
The kings bowed their heads and mumbled 'no...'. The saint said:
"Go home and learn to experience God. And stop this silly war
In shame the two kings went back to their
countries. They ended the war and tried to experience God through
daily meditation. When they finally succeeded, they understood how
ridiculous they had been. They never quarreled about God anymore...
This story was taken from the book "Wishes,
wishes" by Joost Boekhoven.