A man stopped by the house of the world famous sage Puram Bam. Nobody answered his confident knock, so he opened the door and found the sage looking thoughtfully at two masks he held in his hands.
“I didn’t come for help, sage” the man said. “I’m not one of those who need you to tell them how to live their life. But I came to ask you a question.”
Puram Bam said nothing. He only set the masks on the small table in front of him. One mask was sad. Another one was smiling.
“You and others like you preach people to go after their dreams,” said the man. “I say it’s rubbish. Dreams are like smoke. They are not real. Blow at them — and they are gone. But they don’t let you see the real world, where you have to work to pay for your food and your home. You know that. So my question to you is, why do you keep telling people that nonsense?”
Puram Bam rocked in his chair.
“Are you sure dreams are unreal?” he asked. “You are in my dream now.”
The man laughed loudly.
“Spare me this nonsense, old man,” he said. “Leave that I-dream-the-world talk to the weak souls who are afraid of the real world. I don’t care for it.”
“And yet you’re living it,” said Puram Bam. “You call this a house, but for many years it had existed only in my mind. I dreamt of having a bungalow like this, with these white walls, and this fireplace, and these books, and even these two masks. I dreamt of becoming someone to whom some people would come for advice, while many would come to laugh at my words. It was only my dream, but over the years I made it a part of the real world. Yet it is still my dream and you’re standing in the middle of it.”
“Fine,” said the man. His voice was quieter now. “I see your point. But you knew what you wanted. Those who come to you don’t. That’s why they come. Why confuse them?”
“Do you know what you want?” asked Puram Bam.
“I want to have a good life,” said the man.”I have seventy, maybe eighty years in this world and I don’t want to spend them chasing after some nonsense. I work ten hours a day, but my job pays well. It gives me enough money to buy what I need, to live where I want and to entertain myself when I rest. I’m not an artist or a philosopher and I don’t have big ambitions. I only want to make enough to have a decent living. So why would I ever sweat myself making some dream come true, when my job gives me all I need?”
Puram Bam looked at two masks in front of him, as if choosing which one to put on his face.
“You’ve been sweating yourself to make a dream come true all your life,” he said.
“Rubbish!” said the man. “I’ve just told you–”
“Listen or leave.”
The man went silent.
“You’ve been sweating yourself to make a dream come true all your life,” Puram Bam repeated. “Not one dream. Many dreams. Just like all of us. Every part of the world you live in was someone’s dream once. The streets you walk, the books you read, the bread you buy, the laws you obey, the money you spend, even the words you speak — all of this had been born in someone’s mind before it was made real. The place where you work ten hours a day didn’t exist before someone’s mind created it. The world of people is nothing but dreams that came true. Some of these dreams are horrible, they are dreams of blood and pain, but they too, are someone’s dreams made real. So the answer to your question is simple. You spend your life making some dreams come true. You may as well choose your own dream.”
“But I don’t have a dream,” said the man. His voice was very quiet now.
“Everyone has a dream,” said Puram Bam. “Only most people forget it when they grow up.”
He stood up, walked to the fireplace and hung the masks on each side of it.
One mask was smiling. Another one was sad.