power of thinking
Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune
of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The
moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the farmer's beautiful
daughter. So he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the
farmer's debt if he could marry his daughter. Both the farmer and his
daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender
suggested that they let providence decide the matter.
He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into
an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from
the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife
and her father's debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white
pebble she need not marry him and her father's debt would still be
forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be
thrown into jail.
They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer's field. As
they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he
picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two
black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to
pick a pebble from the bag. Now, imagine you were standing in the
field. What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to
advise her, what would you have told her? Careful analysis would
1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag
and expose the money-lender as a cheat.
3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order
to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.
Take a moment to ponder over the story.
The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate
the difference between lateral and logical thinking. The girl's
dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of
the consequences if she chooses the above logical answers.
What would you recommend to the Girl to do?
The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble.
Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-
strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other
pebbles. "Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you
look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell
which pebble I picked." Since the remaining pebble is black, it must
be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the money-
lender dared not admit his
dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into
an extremely advantageous one.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Most complex problems do have a simple solution.
It is only that we don't attempt to think