A certain businessman went bankrupt and lost his business. The reason for his downfall was that his workers had deceived him. This businessman was actually a very kind-hearted man, so his workers had taken advantage of him and betrayed him by stealing money from the business. Their greed had led to the complete collapse of the business and, as a result, the businessman was very miserable.
He said, “Now that I am no longer rich, what can I do?” Then he decided to go to his dearest friend and borrow some money so that he could start afresh. To his surprise, this friend refused. The friend said, “If you climb up a mango tree and you happen to fall down and break your legs, will you immediately start climbing up the same tree again?”
The businessman answered, “Yes, I will try to climb up the tree again, but I will be more careful this time, more cautious. I still want to pluck mangoes, but I will not take any risk the second time.”
The friend said, “No! Once you fail you should not try anymore. The next time you will meet with a much more serious accident and you will die. Anyway, since you have come to me, how much money do you want?”
The businessman replied, “I need 5,000 rupees to start again.”
His dearest friend said, “Oh no, my business is not doing so well either. I cannot part with that amount. But since you are my friend, let me give you five rupees as a gift. You do not have to return them. Just take them and be happy.”
Instead of 5,000 rupees, the businessman received only five rupees from his friend. Sadness and depression descended upon him as he made his way back home. He did not know what to do or where to turn. His wife asked, “Why are you so sad?”
The businessman said, “I have every reason to be upset! When I was rich, I used to give money to charity. Now that my business has failed, everybody looks down upon me. Once upon a time they used to appreciate me, salute me — even honour me. Now those same people will not even look at me! They are mistreating me so badly, as if I had committed a sin! I went to my dearest friend and begged for a loan of 5,000 rupees to open my business again. And what did he give me? Five rupees! This is what our friendship is worth.”
Then the wife asked, “Do you have other friends like him?”
Her husband said, “Yes, I have three or four more whom I once thought of as my good friends.”
“Then can you not go to them and beg for a loan?” asked the wife.
The businessman said, “No! Am I a fool? They will also treat me the same way. I do not want to be humiliated by them.”
“Then what are you planning to do?” asked the wife.
“I do not know what I can do now,” said her poor husband. “For the rest of my life I will feel miserable because I cannot properly support you and our children. I see no hope for the future.”
The businessman’s little son had been quietly listening at the door for a few minutes. Now the small boy stepped forward and asked, “Father, do you have only four friends?”
“No, my child,” said his father, “I have hundreds of friends in this city. Over the years I have helped many, many people in their hour of need. I am sure they have not forgotten.”
The son said, “Father, can you give me a list of all your friends?”
“That is an excellent idea!” exclaimed the businessman’s wife. “Do give us the list.”
Then the father started telling them the names of all the people whom he had served in one way or another and his son wrote them down. By the time the list was complete, it contained more than one hundred names! The little boy put the list in his pocket and went out of the room.
The following day, without saying a word to the businessman, the mother and son went from door to door, visiting all these friends. To each one the little boy said, “You know my father is a kind-hearted man. He has helped so many people. Now he has lost his business. His workers fooled him, but he has not done anything wrong personally.”
Each of these people, who knew from experience that the businessman was very kind and good, offered the boy a little money to take home to his father. Lo and behold, in one day the mother and son were able to collect more than 5,000 rupees! When they returned home and gave the whole amount to the father, he could not believe his eyes.
This story teaches us that if you lose something and you want to regain it, then you must proceed step by step — slowly, steadily and unerringly. On the outer plane, if you have lost all your worldly possessions and you want them to be restored, you must not expect immediate results. Start slowly, and eventually you will reach the same level once more. And on the inner plane, once you fall down, do not expect to regain all your divine qualities overnight. That is not the right way. Start again at the very beginning, and you will once more reach the highest height. This is the lesson that the little boy and his mother taught the businessman.