Solving half the problem

There were two childhood friends. As they grew older, one of them became very, very rich. The other one led a simple, ordinary life. He did not acquire any wealth or property. One day the poor man came to see his wealthy friend. He said, “I am truly glad that you have become very rich. We started our journey together. God did not grant me wealth, but I am really happy that He has blessed my dearest friend with material prosperity. I am very, very glad.”

His friend replied, “I have become rich, true, but I have such a serious problem.”

The poor man was shocked. He said, “How can a man in your position have a serious problem? Poor people, like myself, can have problems. But rich people do not have to have any problems at all. Your money can solve all your problems.”

His friend responded sadly, “No, money alone cannot solve all the problems of the world. It is not possible.”

“Why not?” asked the poor friend. “What kind of problem cannot be solved by money?”

The rich man explained, “In my case, I have been suffering for such a long time from back pain. You cannot imagine what kind of suffering I endure! I have tried so many expensive doctors and treatments, but nothing can cure me. My money is practically useless when it is a matter of curing my pain!”

The poor man said, “I have practised medicine for some time. I am not a qualified doctor, but I know a considerable amount about your kind of problem. How is it that the real doctors cannot cure you? I can easily cure you.”

“You can cure me?” asked the rich man.

“Certainly,” replied his friend. “I am astonished that you have not been cured by now. As soon as I start giving you a special medicine, I assure you that at least half of your problem will disappear.”

“All right,” said the rich man eagerly, “you can try. How much money do you need from me?”

The poor man said, “Unfortunately, I will need a considerable amount, because I have to go to a different town to get the medicine. I can start my journey tomorrow. I cannot guarantee that I will be able to solve your problem fully, but at least half your problem will be over.”

The rich man was ready to believe his friend, for he had implicit confidence in him. He felt that as soon as he started the new treatment, his pain would be reduced by at least half. Perhaps it would even disappear completely. He reflected that even if his pain were reduced by only a quarter, he would be satisfied. So he gave his poor friend a large sum of money to go and purchase the medicine.

Every month from then on, the friend sent him medicine. One month, two months, three months, four months, five months, six months passed by, but the rich man’s back pain remained the same. It was not going away at all.

Finally the rich man went to see his poor friend and said, “You have been sending me medicine for such a long time, but I have to say that my pain is still the same. I am suffering so much. What can be done?”

His friend said, “I told you that half your problem would be solved, and it has been solved.”

“What? I do not understand,” said the rich man.

“It is so simple,” responded the poor man. “You see, I needed money badly because I had accumulated huge debts. I charged you lots of money for the medicine. Now, for the last six months, I have been paying off my debts with your money. By this time, I have reduced my debts by half, so we can say that half our problem is over. You and I are one. Therefore, my problem is your problem. I told you that half your problem would soon be over, and my words have come true. I am so happy now, and I know that you will be happy in my happiness!”

From:Sri Chinmoy,Amusement I enjoy, enlightenment I study, part 7, Agni Press, 1998
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