There once was a great healer who was renown throughout the land for achieving great healings upon the animals of the kingdom. He had an apprentice who was learning this craft at the side of the great healer.
One day two lions came to him. The healer could obviously see the problem with both immediately as they each had a large thorn that had completely pierced a paw. The first lion introduced himself as Leon and asked the healer to please make the pain go away. The healer then spoke to Leon explaining that there was a thorn in the paw and it would have to be removed. Leon looked and for the first time saw the source of his pain and asked if the healer would please remove that which had caused him so much pain. The healer said it could be done but the removal process would also be painful and even the healing process would be painful at first but that with time the paw would heal and the pain would go away. Leon agreed and the healer went about the task of removing the thorn and beginning the healing process.
As all of this was taking place the apprentice was watching and learning and feeling confident that he knew what was needed he went up to the other lion. The apprentice reached down and grabbed the paw of the lion and began to tug on the thorn without much success. Actually, his efforts made the wound more irritated and this was doubled by the fact that the lion was fighting him trying to get his paw back from the apprentice. The more the apprentice tried to remove the thorn the harder the lion fought against him.
The apprentice thought to himself, "This is ridiculous, if this stupid lion would only be still I might have a chance of removing the thorn and then I would be a great healer also. Why wonít this lion be still and be healed?" He wondered.
Then he was indeed shocked. For the lion reached over and bit him soundly on his shoulder. At which point the apprentice immediately stopped and ran to the healer asking for an explanation of what had taken place. "I was only trying to heal that lion and not only did he fight me every step of the way but he bit me to boot."
The healer smiled and asked the apprentice, "What did you do to the lion and why?"
"Well, I was doing the exact same thing that you did with Leon." Replied the apprentice. "I was removing the thorn from his paw."
"Oh you may have been attempting to remove the thorn but you did not do exactly what I did and that makes a big difference." The healer explained. "Tell me what is that lionís name that you tried to heal?"
"Well, I donít know. He didnít tell me. But what could his name possibly have to do with getting the thorn out or healing him. Surely the wonders of your art are not so mundane as to just know the names of those you help?" the apprentice complained.
"You see I know the name of the lion I helped because he came to me and told me. He came to me and asked for the pain to be removed. Perhaps you need to know a little bit about the ones you are to help and you must also let them come to you asking for help. Let us go talk to the lion for a while and see what he has to say."
So they walked over to the lion who was licking the sore paw and giving it all kinds of attention. "Excuse me," the healer asked, "but why are you licking your paw?"
The lion looked up and told them, "This is my favored paw. Many years ago I noticed that it feels different from the other paws. I didnít like it at first but I found that if I give it a lot of attention that the other lions treat me differently. I once saw it perform a miracle as I only reached at a piece of ripe fruit and it floated to me. There are times when it is so special that I feel I must not even walk upon it. That sensation moves from the ground all the way up into my shoulder. This man here was trying to get the magic of this special paw from me and so I bit him to make him stop."
"Thank you kind lion," the healer said and turned to walk away. The apprentice was horrified that the healer would leave the lion in such a condition. It was obvious that the paw needed tending, as the infection in the paw was very red and even seeping. "How can you just walk away from someone who is hurting and in need like this, have you no heart or compassion?" asked the apprentice.
"Ah I see that you still have not learned. The lion does not perceive that he has a wound does not even know that he has pain at this time. He has not asked for our help so how can we give it to him. You have already been bitten once do you seek to be injured again?" The healer continued his walk away from the lion. "When you tried to remove the thorn you only drove it deeper into the flesh because you did not have the cooperation or understanding from the lion to remove the foreign object. You also did not have his permission to aid his own body in performing the healing that would have to come later after the thorn was removed. This would leave that wound open for all kinds of other things to enter and could even make it worse. At this point the lion is happy with the thorn and has learned to live with it. The lion has even made his life to conform to the wound and in some ways made it work for him. What would you be doing to force your idea of healing upon him?"
"But certainly there must be something that we can do to help the lion?" the apprentice pleaded with the healer.
"Yes, if you really want to do something for the lion get to know him and teach him that he has a perfect body. Teach him that there are other experiences to be had besides this "strange sensation" he now knows. Show him the love and beauty of the forest around him and of other lions that have done what he is doing but now walk without pain. If you show him these things and he truly learns then perhaps he will be willing to let go of the thorn and allow you to heal him."
"But if I do these things then I will not be healing the lion at all, I will just be leading him to a place where he can heal himself. He will just be asking me to perform a small insignificant task but all the rest will be where he truly gets relief." The apprentice lamented.
"Ah yes, and now you know one of the true secrets to being a real healer."