Wisdom from Around the World

by Staff

garden_origTrue Wealth
One day a very wealthy family took their son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing him how very poor people live. They spent a day and a night on the farm of a very poor family. When they got back from their trip the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”

“Very good, Dad!

“Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked.

“Yeah!”

“And what did you learn?”

The son answered, “I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden, they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden, they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard, they have a whole horizon.”

When the little boy was finished, his father was speechless.

His son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are!”

Unlimited Desire
An emperor was coming out of his palace for his morning walk when he met a beggar. He asked the beggar, “What do you want?”

The beggar laughed and said, “You are asking me as though you can fulfill my desire!”

The king was offended. He said, “Of course I can fulfill your desire. What is it? Just tell me.”

And the beggar said, “Think twice before you promise anything.” (The beggar was no ordinary beggar, he was the emperor’s past life master. He had promised in that life, “I will come and try to wake you up in your next life. This life you have missed, but I will come again.” But the king had forgotten completely—who remembers past lives?)

So he insisted, “I will fulfill anything you ask. I am a very powerful emperor, what can you possibly desire that I cannot give to you?”

The beggar said, “It is a very simple desire. You see this begging bowl? Can you fill it with something?”

The emperor said, “Of course!”

He called one of his viziers and told him, “Fill this man’s begging bowl with money.”

The vizier went and got some money and poured it into the bowl, and it disappeared. And he poured more and more, and the moment he would pour it, it would disappear. And the begging bowl always remained empty.

The whole palace gathered. By and by the rumor went throughout the whole capital, and a huge crowd gathered. The prestige of the emperor was at stake.

He said to his viziers, “If the whole kingdom is lost, I am ready to lose it, but I cannot be defeated by this beggar.”

Diamonds and pearls and emeralds, his treasuries were becoming empty. The begging bowl seemed to be bottomless. Everything that was put into it—everything!—immediately disappeared, went out of existence. Finally it was the evening, and the people were standing there in utter silence.

The king dropped at the feet of the beggar and admitted his defeat. He said, “Just tell me one thing. You are victorious—but before you leave, just fulfill my curiosity. What is the begging bowl made of?”

The beggar laughed and said, “It is made up of the human mind. There is no secret. It is simply made up of human desire.”

I Am Making Progress
Yen Hui said, “I am making progress.”

Confucius asked, “In what way?”

Yen Hui said, “I have given up doing good and being right.”

Confucius said, “Very good, but that is not quite enough.”

Another day, Yen Hui saw Confucius and said, “I am making progress.”

Confucius asked, “In what way?”

Yen Hui said, “I have given up ceremony and music.”

Confucius said, “Very good, but that is not quite enough.”

Another day, Yen Hui saw Confucius again and said, “I am making progress.”

Confucius asked, “In what way?”

Yen Hui said, “I just sit and forget.”

Confucius was startled and asked, “What do you mean by sitting and forgetting?”

Yen Hui said, “I am not attached to the body and I give up any idea of knowing. By freeing myself from the body and mind, I become one with the infinite. This is what I mean by sitting and forgetting.”

Confucius said, “When there is oneness, there are no preferences. When there is change, there is no constancy. If you have really attained this, then let me become your pupil.”

Living the Truth
This is a story about Rabbi Elimelch, the Rabbi of Lesinsk who lived about two hundred years ago. Another Rabbi came to visit Rabbi Elimelch, who was known far and wide for being a Tzaddik (a pure and righteous man).

As they sat together conversing, the visiting Rabbi, who was a distinguished scholar, yet did not achieve the level of holiness and saintliness that Rabbi Elimelch had reached, asked: “Tell me, Rabbi Elimelch, we both are scholars, well-versed in the Jewish law. Yet you have reached a level of saintliness and holiness far beyond me. Explain to me, please, what is the difference between us? What is it that you possess that I don’t?”

Rabbi Elimelch pointed to the bowl of fruit, set before them on the table. “When you want to eat an apple, do you make a blessing?”

“Certainly I do!” the visiting Rabbi answered.

“Ah, you see, when I want to make a blessing, I eat an apple. When you want to eat an apple you first make a blessing. That’s the difference.”

Change Yourself Not the World
Once upon a time, there was a king who ruled a prosperous country. One day, he went for a trip to some distant areas of his land. When he arrived back at his palace, he complained that his feet were very painful, because it was the first time that he went for such a long trip, and the road that he went through was very rough and stony. He then ordered his people to cover every road of the entire country with leather. Definitely, this would need thousands of cows’ skin, and would cost a huge amount of money.

Then one of his wise servants dared to tell the king, “Why do you have to spend that unnecessary amount of money? Why don’t you just cut a little piece of leather to cover your feet ?”

Lao Tzu and One Big Tree
Lao Tzu was traveling with his disciples and they came to a forest where hundreds of woodcutters were cutting the trees. The whole forest had been cut except for one big tree with thousands of branches. It was so big that 10,000 persons could sit in its shade.

Lao Tzu asked his disciples to go and inquire why this tree had not been cut. They went and asked the woodcutter and they said, “This tree is absolutely useless. You cannot make anything out of it because every branch has so many knots in it—nothing is straight. You cannot use it as fuel because the smoke is dangerous to the eyes. This tree is absolutely useless; that’s why we haven’t cut it.”

The disciples came back and told Lao Tzu. He laughed, “Be like this tree. If you are useful you will be cut and you will become furniture in somebody’s house. If you are beautiful you will be sold in the market, you will become a commodity. Be like this tree, absolutely useless, and then you will grow big and vast and thousands of people will find shade under you.”