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A story of the bishop and the three hermits

Augustine and while there does not seem to be anything written by St. Augustine resembling Tolstoy's story, there is a story about St.

  • There was a jerk, and the vessel shook;
  • And a light shone until daybreak on the spot where they were lost to sight;
  • Suddenly he saw something white and shining, on the bright path which the moon cast across the sea;
  • Augustine told the boy he was being silly but the boy replied that he had as good of a chance of completing his task as St.

Augustine which might have served as the seed for this folk tale. In that story St.

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Augustine is said to have been walking along a beach when he came upon a boy carrying a seashell who was running back and forth between the sea and a hole he had dug in the sand. Augustine asked the boy what he was doing a It's been mentioned this story has its origin from St. Augustine asked the boy what he was doing and the boy said he was going to empty the entire sea into the hole he had dug with the seashell.

  • And as he sat in the boat and was rowed to the ship he could hear the three voices of the hermits loudly repeating the Lord's prayer;
  • Augustine had at understanding God;
  • And all day long the Bishop laboured, saying a word twenty, thirty, a hundred times over, and the old men repeated it after him.

Augustine told the boy he was being silly but the boy replied that he had as good of a chance of completing his task as St. Augustine had at understanding God.

  1. The Bishop repeated the words again, and the old men repeated them after him.
  2. Augustine which might have served as the seed for this folk tale. All three were gliding along upon the water without moving their feet.
  3. When the Bishop lands on the island he immediately sets to work to "improve" the hermit's lives by teaching them to pray the way he does.

This story, obviously, is very much about faith and God, however, I think it can be applied to a larger context, and that is of understanding other people: I first thought about this broader context when in the story the Bishop is the last person to be able to see the hermit's island. In fact he has to be pointed out the island numerous times and then even the boat itself has to be steered closer before it's visible.

Three Hermits

Everyone else on the boat is accustomed to looking out across the sea with the sun shining off of it, but the Bishop cannot see well. This feels very much like a metaphor for someone who has become far to specialized in their studies and have limited their ability to see a broader scope.

When the Bishop lands on the island he immediately sets to work to "improve" the hermit's lives by teaching them to pray the way he does. This was very anti-empathetic of the Bishop because he assumed these three men were living wrong and that only he had the answers.

  1. Augustine told the boy he was being silly but the boy replied that he had as good of a chance of completing his task as St. The oarsmen pulled in to the shore, and held on with the boathook while the Bishop got out.
  2. The oldest one only said.
  3. As the boat drew near the vessel their voices could no longer be heard, but they could still be seen in the moonlight, standing as he had left them on the shore, the shortest in the middle, the tallest on the right, the middle one on the left.

This could be applied to the greater context of being self-righteous in telling other people how to live. How do we know that our way of looking at the world is superior to someone else's?

The Three Hermits Summary

What gives us the right or the authority? How could we even know the heart and soul of another person the ever make that judgment? And that's where this story's magic comes to: These three simple monks innocently perform a great miracle to the astonishment of everyone on-board the boat, especially the Bishop.

However, it's a little more complex than just witnessing a miracle for the betterment of the Bishops because this miracle occurs solely because the hermits think they have lost the "false" teaching given to them. They have been led astray and now stand on a ground which cannot hold them.

They have faith enough to carry on standing, but it's inevitable they will fall through unless they turn back. And so our best intentions could very well lead someone else to abandon what is right for them and put them in a very precarious, even dangerous situation.

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So like much of Tolstoy's work, empathy and humility of one's self is the major theme. And while he frames this as a religious story, it does carry further than that, too. This is a wonderful little story with a fantastic ending Tolstoy writes the best endings - better than any writer who has ever lived, in my opinion.

It has even been turned into a short untranslated film on YouTube.