Wisdom is wealth

There was once an old man who was very rich and very honest. Over his lifetime he had worked very hard to make money in order to be able to support his family and give them a comfortable life. But, unlike him, his two sons were very idle. They hated to work and instead did nothing but waste their father's hard-earned money. The man felt so sorry that his sons had turned out this way. He thought to himself, "At this rate, these good-for-nothing sons of mine are liable to spend all my money while I am still alive. Then, how will they support themselves after I am gone? It is such a shame. There must be something I can do to turn them into responsible men."

Suddenly, a brilliant idea flashed across the man's forehead. He said to his sons, "I have something to tell you. My father, your grandfather, gave me a large sum of money before he died, and I want you two to have it. Many, many years ago, I hid the money at a particular place, far away from here. I did this so nobody would suspect anything and the money would be safe. The time has now come for me to tell you where it is hidden. My sons, I will soon die. If I tell you where the money is, you can go now and dig for it. You will have it to share, so that you can live comfortably after I am gone."

The brothers were thrilled with the news. Following their father's instructions, they began their journey on foot, taking a small amount of food with them, but no money. They walked and walked, stopping to rest and eat from time to time. But their destination was farther away than they had realised.

Soon, the brothers had eaten all the food they had brought with them, and they had no money to buy more. They were becoming very hungry, so they started begging for food from door to door.

When they came to one house, the owner said to the brothers, 'Why beg for food when you could earn some money instead? You are strong young men. I will be happy to give you work and pay you for it."

So the brothers did some work for the man and, after getting paid, they resumed their journey. When they were hungry, they stopped and bought some food with the money they had earned. Every few days, when they ran out of money, they would take on more work for other people. In this way, they were able to cover a considerable distance.

One day, when the brothers were looking for work, they happened to knock at the door of a very rich man who offered them a large salary if they would accept jobs with him. So they stayed with him for two months, and at the end of that time, the rich man gave them a large sum of money for their labour.

The brothers once more continued on their journey and, at long last, they reached their destination. Upon arriving, they immediately began digging as their father had instructed. But, alas, no matter how deeply they dug, there was absolutely no sign of money at that spot. They could not believe their father would tell them a lie. He had been so compassionate to them all their lives.

Disappointed, the brothers returned home. True, they had money in their pockets, but it was money they had themselves earned, not the fortune they were expecting to find.

When they reached their home, the younger brother said to the father, "We never knew you were such a liar! There was no money where you said we would find it. How could you tell us such a lie in the evening of your life? We went all that way for nothing. How could you fool us like that?"

"No, Father is not a liar, and we did not travel all that way in vain!" the older brother countered. "We did come back richer than when we set out. Father made his money by working hard, and now I can see that by sending us off on this journey, he hoped we would learn the value of hard work so we could be successful like he is. When we were hungry and in need of food, rather than begging, we learned the value of honest work. By earning money, we were able to feed and take care of ourselves. Is it not clear that in this way. Father taught us a great lesson we otherwise would not have learned?"

Hearing these words from his older son, the father embraced him, exclaiming, "You are right, my son. I am so proud of you for the progress you have made. Now I am giving you all the money I have on earth. Wisdom is wealth, and you have come back with wisdom in abundant measure. You did find the treasure I was hoping you would find. That was the only treasure that was waiting for you in that faraway place. I never buried any money there, or anywhere else for that matter! You have found the treasure. To you I give all my money as a reward."

At this, the younger brother became furious and started fighting with his older brother. The father tried to stop them, but alas, in the heat of the moment, he had a heart attack and died on the spot.

Seeing their father dead, the two brothers became miserable. So they made a compromise. They said, "For Father's sake, from now on let us work very hard to make money the way he taught us. This is the way to make ourselves rich. And from Heaven, Father will be happy that we have become rich the honest way, through hard work, as he did."

Sri Chinmoy, The tiny key in the asparagus soup.First published by Agni Press in 2003.

This is the 1438th book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.

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by Sri Chinmoy
From the book The tiny key in the asparagus soup, made available to share under a Creative Commons license

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