There was once a village priest who was highly educated and fully conversant with all the sacred scriptures. Because he was so erudite, he was the priest for several villages. Everybody appreciated and admired him.
This priest came to hear that the king was looking for a priest for his temple. The village priest was deeply interested. He felt that he had all the qualifications to become the king’s personal priest. Without a doubt, he was the most learned priest in the land. He could recite all the scriptures without any mistake. He felt certain that he would be offered the position.
With absolute confidence, he sold his house and property. Then he entrusted all his duties to a junior priest. He told this junior priest, “Now you must fill my position, because I will soon be appointed as the king’s priest. I will not be coming back to this village. I will live in the palace and I will become rich, very rich, overnight. I will be the king’s mentor. He will seek my advice at every moment and the whole world will appreciate me, admire me and adore me. Even here, in this village, you will hear about me quite often.”
So the priest collected his remaining belongings and made the journey to the capital, where the king had his palace. The king had proclaimed a date on which he would examine all the religious leaders and priests and make his choice. This particular priest arrived in good time for the examination. As he approached the city gate, he saw that the city was in mourning. Then he learned that the king’s mother had passed away just two days earlier. When he asked about the forthcoming examination, he was told that the king had postponed it indefinitely because he was mourning his mother’s passing. The king had not set any new date for the examination, but he had said that it would be at least a few months before he would be ready to make the appointment. In the meantime, the position would be vacant.
The poor priest was so disappointed. He had to find somewhere to stay while he was waiting. Weeks and months went by and still there was no announcement from the king. The priest found that it was very expensive to live in the city and his supply of money soon dwindled to nothing. Since he could no longer afford to stay there, he decided that the best thing was to go back home. Somehow he managed to make the return journey.
When the village people saw the priest returning penniless, they jeered and mocked him. They said, “You greedy fellow! You left us because of your ambition to be the king’s priest. Now we have appointed somebody else to take your position. Here there is no place for you. You sold your house and property. We do not want you to come back here. You have shown us that beneath your spirituality there is nothing but greed, greed, greed. Take your greed somewhere else!”