“Dear lady can I get some alms today.” The roaming monk called out after knocking at her door.
The lady of the house tip toed out, scared this call would wake up her husband who was sleeping having just returned home, after months of overseas travel. He was the biggest merchant in town renowned both for his fortune as well as his temper.
However it was too late, as her husbands sleep had already been interrupted.
Irritated, he stepped out to address the cause of commotion when he saw this lean wiry mendicant bowing reverentially to his wife having accepted her donation of flour and some vegetables from her.
The merchant was very skeptical of these social freeloaders who begged their way through their existence instead of wanting to put a hard days work to earn a living. However there was something about this fellow that was different. He carried an air of contentment and there was a sense of calmness in his demeanor. It looked something inside him was at rest. He wasn’t the usual hungry type of beggar.
Rich merchant felt a sudden urge to talk to him so he invited the monk inside.The conversation started with the obvious:
“Why do you beg. You look sturdy enough to work.”
“Let me know first why do you work.” The monk countered.
“To earn a living obviously, so as to feed my family” The merchant replied edgily.
“But looking at your big house and splendor you seem to have enough for yourself and your family already. So why do you actually work.”
This time merchant was stumped for answer and then he mustered a response.
“Because this might not last as some calamity might happen, so I need to have enough savings to meet contingencies “
“So you work out of fear of the Unknown. Do you know most people work like that : out of fear of starvation or aging or death or being left out by others. It is their fears which keep them going when they can as well stop.
The truth is that our needs are very few and meeting them ensures our well being. All this extra is a burden, we carry to somehow feel safe or feel good. Also the world out there, knowing our vulnerability, keeps bombarding us with messages of lack or inadequacy. Buy this to feel better, or this to look younger or this to look happening. We somewhere start believing in this lack and get sucked into this conspiracy of wanting. Do you think a person who is content will ever be spending a lifetime earning money to buy things he does not actually need.”
“So how should one get out of this conspiracy to make you feel incomplete that the world thrives on.“
“I found my way in renouncing my palace, not heeding various desires that keep welling up, drilling my living down to basics and begging even for my food. Somewhere, sometime you will also have to stop playing this game of ever expanding desire with yourself and rein them in. As you do that you will notice that your fears will also automatically reduce. Now, how far will you take this rebellion against desires is what you must ultimately decide.
One good place to start though is not to let messages of lack which gets broadcast as advertisements everywhere, to hold your attention. They are untrue as well as trap you deeper in desire cesspool ” The Holy One smiled.