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A woman dreamt one night the most vivid dream of her life, it was almost tangibly real – the sounds, the smells, the feelings, surely it had been real?

She dreamt that as she walked along the bank of the canal she saw a figure dressed in a  brown cloak. Whilst she didn’t recognise the cloaked figure, she did recognise the canal. It was the same canal as the one close to her home where she would walk on fine evenings.  As she got closer she recognised the figure was a monk, kneeling as if in prayer, his head bowed. The woman approached the monk and, as if compelled to do so, she spoke to him:  “you have the greatest treasure, please will you give it to me?’  The monk’s head started to rise ever so slowly, but before she could make out his face, and before he had uttered a word in reply, she awoke.

No! how could she wake up now, why did the dream end now?  It wasn’t the end of the dream, she hadn’t found out what the treasure was!  This was painful, the dream was so real surely it had a meaning for her?  But without knowing what the treasure was how would she understand its meaning. Maybe if she walked by the canal she would get some inspiration?

Walking along the canal path, the one thing that struck her, as it did on numerous occasions, was how calm it was. The gentle breeze was enough to make the water sing as it lapped against the canal wall. Ahead on the side of the path she saw….yes it was the brown cloak, it was the monk, this was the dream but in reality!

Without any hesitation she rushed to the monk and in an excited voice uttered ‘ You have the greatest treasure, please give it to me!’ The covered head of the monk started to rise and at the same time and at the same rate his clenched hand moved towards the woman. “Ah,” he said,  “you mean this.’  As he spoke  his fist slowly unclenched, ‘I found it at the side of the path there.’ Looking into the woman’s eyes, a slight smile appeared on the face of the monk. “‘Yes this is what you want.”  The woman looked at the outstretched palm in front of her. There in the middle of the monk’s hand was a huge, sparkling diamond. A gasp escaped her lips, “I can have it?” she asked.  “Yes,”  the monk replied, “of course.”

The woman took the rock from the monk’s hand and, completely overwhelmed with the event that had just unfolded, left the monk without thanking him. She would have done, of course she would have done, but now the dream had become reality, this was too much!  She could hardly breathe, let alone say thank you.

She started for home, thinking of all the things that this diamond would bring her, of the security she now had:  bills paid, presents bought, a makeover, a new car!  So much to spend and so little time. This was indeed the greatest treasure.

But suddenly she stopped and thought. For five minutes she stood deep in thought, staring at her hand, still holding the diamond.

She returned towards the monk. The smile on her face disappeared and tears started streaming down her face. When she reached him and without taking her eyes off him,  she hurled the diamond into the canal.  It landed in the centre of the water, the deepest gloomiest part, never to be seen again.

Just as the sound of the splash disappeared, she turned slowly to the monk, the tears still running down her cheeks. As her benefactor returned her stare, with an air of purpose she said:

” Now give me the greatest treasure.  Give me the treasure that you have, the one that made it so easy for you to give up that diamond.”

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