A priest and his student were on a journey. The student, being a new novice, is instructed not to speak during that day. In the morning the pair passed a village. A young boy playing in the square. Suddenly a pack of wild dogs appears and set upon the boy. The priest does nothing as the boy is mauled and killed. The student protests, wondering if the priest had become both blind and mute, as the child screams much while being attacked. The priest motions the student to be quiet, and they continue on their journey.
After lunch, the pair walk alongside the side of a large lake. They spot a boat close to shore. The vessel was on fire. The passengers scream in pain has they are consumed by the flames. Very few swim ashore. The student, horrified by the scene, can not understand why he and the teacher do not take a nearby boat and rescue some of the people. He protests at the inaction, and is again motioned to be quiet. Visibly distraught, the student walks on with the teacher away from the devastation.
The student ponders why the teacher would not express acts of good in the face of destruction and death. That evening, while the teacher and student are taking dinner, there is a great commotion near them. A mother is holding down a screaming child and strangling him with great apparent force. The student looks to the teacher, and asks if they are going to stop the mother’s actions. The teacher again motions to student to be quiet, and they finish their meal as the mother hauls away the sobbing son, battered but still alive.
As darkness fell, and the day ended, the restriction of speak is removed from the student. He asks, in terse and angry tones, why the teacher acted as he did. Why had they stood by while a child was killed, many killed when lives could be saved, and a no effort was made to stop a mother from abusing and nearly killing her child.
The teacher listens while the student speaks, and then explains his actions. He says "The child attacked by the dogs was to grow up to be a tyrant, responsible for the future killing and torture of many, many people." The student nods and then asks why no attempt was made to rescue the burning people on the boat. The teacher pauses, and answers, "the ship was owned by pirates much feared on the lake. They were on their way to pillage a village when the ship caught on fire." The student nods again. The student is still confused about the actions of the mother, and asks why there was inaction in the face of evil actions. The teacher paused and replies "the child has a history of seizures. The mother was holding him down and keeping him from swallowing his tongue." The student is now truly silent, his learning of Self begun.