The hermit's peace-boon

There was a hermit who lived in a cave far removed from the hustle and bustle of village life. One day a villager came to his humble abode and asked, “Can you please make me peaceful? I have a successful business in the village. I have wealth, I have everything; but how can I have peace?”

The hermit replied, “Do you have any idea how you can attain peace?”

“Oh, yes!” said the villager without the least hesitation. “If I have more prosperity, I am sure peace will dawn in my life.”

The hermit said, “Granted! If you feel that more prosperity and more name and fame will bring you peace, then your wish is granted. When you return home, you will see that my boon has already taken effect.”

The villager returned home and, to his great surprise, he found that his wealth had literally doubled overnight. For a few years he was very happy. Then something prompted him to return to the hermit again.

The hermit recognised him and asked, “What do you want this time?”

The villager answered, “I am still seeking the same thing. I want to be happy and peaceful.”

“Then how do you want me to help you?” asked the hermit.

The villager looked a little embarrassed. Finally he said, “Someone has moved to our village who is infinitely richer than I am. He has really disturbed my peace! I feel that if I can defeat him in wealth, then I will be happy and peaceful once more.”

Again the hermit said, “Granted! I will give you the capacity to become richer than your rival, immediately.”

The villager returned home and discovered that his wealth now far surpassed that of his rival. The hermit had arranged everything to the villager’s utmost satisfaction. Once more he could be truly happy and peaceful.

Unfortunately, after a few more years another businessman who was exceedingly rich came to live in the village. Once again, the villager’s supremacy was challenged, so he went back to see the hermit.

“Please, please,” begged the villager, “tell me what I must do! I tried to get peace in my own way by amassing more and more wealth, but that peace never lasts. Somebody always comes along and ruins it. Now I would like to hear from you how I can become really peaceful. I have been coming to you for so many years, but I have never asked you for your advice. If it is not too late, please illumine me.”

The hermit said, “That is what I have been waiting to hear from you! Here is my advice to you: if you give away all the wealth that you have, you will be flooded with peace. And if you become my disciple, I will be able to offer you joy and happiness.”

The villager immediately prostrated himself before the hermit and said, “I want to become your disciple. I do not care for earthly riches anymore. I want only inner wealth. Please allow me to stay with you, or allow me to build a small cottage next to you so that I can pray and meditate with you every day. The atmosphere around you is full of peace and harmony. What a fool I was not to notice it before! I want to be your devoted disciple. Please grant me initiation.”

The hermit said, “Granted! I accept you as my disciple. I will give you all the peace of the inner world.”

Lo, the villager found immediate peace, happiness and fulfilment at the feet of the hermit.