The shopkeeper's greed

A shopkeeper was standing in the doorway of his shop and noticed that a beggar was just outside the doorway, searching for coins in the dirt. The shopkeeper thought the beggar must have dropped some coins and that was why he was searching and searching. But the shopkeeper was such a bad man. When the beggar eventually found a coin, the shopkeeper approached him and said, "You are a beggar. Therefore you do not have any money of your own. So this coin cannot be yours. Since you found it near my shop, you must give it to me!"

The poor beggar replied, "Sir, I have just found the coin after searching for some time. Just because it is near your shop does not mean it is yours. It may have belonged to somebody else. But I have found it, so now it is mine."

"All right, all right, let us compromise," said the shopkeeper. "You give the coin to me and I will give you back half of what it is worth. It is a fifty-paisa coin, so I will give you a quarter."

The poor beggar agreed. "Better to have a quarter than nothing at all," he thought. So he took the quarter from the shopkeeper and went away.

The shopkeeper's house was quite close to his shop. At the end of the day, when he went home for dinner, he saw his wife outside the house looking around for something in the dirt. "What are you doing?" he asked his wife.

"I have dropped a coin," she explained. "Let us both look for it."

"At this hour how will we be able to find the coin? It is already dark," complained the shopkeeper. Reluctantly he began to help his wife look for the coin. They searched and searched for an hour or so, but they could not find anything.

Finally the shopkeeper said to his wife, "Do not worry. I have it." Then he handed her the coin he had taken from the beggar.

After examining the coin carefully, the wife exclaimed, "This is not the coin I dropped. It is a false coin! Can you not see that it is counterfeit?"

Alas, alas, this is what happened. The wife did not find the coin she had lost, and the shopkeeper gave away to the beggar half the value of what he thought the beggar's coin to be worth, only to find out that it was a useless, counterfeit coin.

"What have I done, what have I done!" cried the shopkeeper. "The beggar got a real quarter, which I gave him, and I got the fifty-paisa coin, which is false. Alas, my greed has turned me into a complete fool!"

From:Sri Chinmoy,The jackal’s punishment, Agni Press, 2002
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