USE YOUR GOLD

A miser hid his gold at the foot of a tree in his garden. Every week he would dig it up and look at it for hours. One day a thief dug up the gold and made off with it. When the miser next came to gaze upon his treasure, all he found was an empty hole.

The man began to howl with grief so his neighbors came running to find out what the trouble was. When they found out, one of them asked, “Did you use any of the gold?”

“No,” said the miser. “I only looked at it every week.”

“Well, then.” said the neighbor, “for all the good the gold did you, you might just as well come her every week and gaze upon the hole.”

Source |  Anthony De Mello, SJ | The Heart of the Enlightened,
Doubleday,1989) page 20

CONSIDER THIS

It is not by our money but by our capacity for enjoyment that we are rich or poor. To strive for wealth and have no capacity for enjoyment is to be like the bald man who struggles to collect combs.

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Here’s a slightly different version

Once upon a time there was a wealthy miser who melted down his hoard of gold into a single lump which he then secretly buried in his garden. every day he went to look at it, and would spend hours gloating over it.

Then one of his servants discovered his secret, and came by night and stole the gold. when the miser discovered that his treasure had been stolen, he was heart-broken.

But a friend said to him. “Don’t take it so badly. Just put a brick on the hole, and take a look at it every day. You won’t be any worse off than before, for even when you had the gold you never used it.”

All of us bury some talent which we refuse to use either for our own benefit of for the benefit of others. And what us buried is of no earthly use to anyone.

Source | Flor McCarthy SDB, New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies
(Dominican Publications, 1998) pages 346-347

THE KING AND THE BEGGAR

As I went begging today from door to door they cried, “He is coming! He draws near!” And seeing the dust of your gorgeous chariot, I thought, “Who can this be but a king among kings?”

My hopes soared, and I stood waiting for alms to be given and wealth scattered in the dust. Your chariot stopped right before me, you looked down with a smile, and I knew that the luck of my days had come. Until suddenly you held out your palm and said, “What will you give?”

Begging from a beggar! What a kingly jest – I was confused and dismayed, but I groped in my sack until I brought out one grain of wheat, the tiniest thing I could afford.

I got home that night and emptied my sack on the floor, only to spy a grain of gold gleaming there in the heap. Then how bitterly I wept. If you did this for a tiny grain of wheat, what would you return if I had given you everything?

Source | Deepak ChopraThe Soul in Love: Classic Poems of Ecstasy and Exaltation
(Harmony, 2001) pages 102-103

CONSIDER THIS

How often are you the beggar in the story, reaching in for one kernel of corn, holding back, and giving much less than your all?

 

 

GOD IN THE CRACKS

In a large temple north of Thailand’s ancient capital, Sukotai, there once stood an enormous and ancient clay Buddha. Over a period of five hundred years, violent storms, changes of government, and invading armies had come and gone, but the statue endured.

At one point, however, the monks who tended the temple noticed that the statue had begun to crack and would soon be in need of repair and repainting. After a stretch of particularly hot, dry weather, one of the cracks became so wide that a curious monk took his flashlight and peered inside. What shone back at him was a flash of brilliant gold! Inside this plain old statue, the temple residents discovered one of the largest and most luminous gold images of Buddha ever created in Southeast Asia. Now uncovered, the golden Buddha draws throngs of devoted pilgrims from all over Thailand.

The monks believe that this shining work of art had been covered in plaster and clay to protect it during times of conflict and unrest.

Source | Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart
(Bantam; Reprint edition, 2009) pages 11-12

CONSIDER THIS

Retrain yourself to see beyond the cracks to the beauty that lies beneath. It is unbreakable, has no concept of age and doesn’t conform to other people’s standards of perfection. Retraining yourself to see the perfection of imperfection, the image of God in the cracks of life, is an essential part of the path towards human liberation.

Saint Paul describes this experience in 2 Corinthians 4:7 as “treasures in clay jars”.

THE FABLE OF KINTSUKUROI

Once upon a time, in the far, far east, east even of Eden, lived a great emperor, in a great palace, gorgeously stocked with the richest of goods. It was early spring, and the season of royal visits, when kings and princes called on one another and admired each others’ choicest possessions, gave wonderful gifts and enjoyed bountiful banquets. And this year was special, because the visitors would see the investiture of his beloved son Kintsukuroi as Crown Prince of the empire.

The emperor was excited this year because he had a new and beautiful bowl to show to his friends, specially made for him by the finest of craftsmen from the finest of materials. Imagine then his horror when on going to his cabinet he discovered that it was broken apart, into a hundred pieces. How could it have happened? No-one knew. What could be done about it before the first visitors arrived? No-one could offer any idea, for the time was too short to start again and make another one.

The emperor was dismayed, sad that he could not show off his beautiful bowl, but even sadder that something so beautiful should have broken. He retired into his private apartments with only his beloved son to share his sorrow, and they talked long into the night together.

Next morning the emperor woke to the sound of a great commotion. His senior ministers demanded to see him urgently. The cabinet of treasures had now been broken into, and this time the great new golden diadem that has been made for his beloved son, ready for the investiture, was quite simply gone – along with the broken pieces of the broken bowl, but who cared about those now.

What is more, the thief had been seen, but not recognized, since he was covered in dirt and scars, with nothing to distinguish him from a thousand other down-and-outs who hung around the palace, for the emperor – to the annoyance of his ministers – refused to turn them out but shared his food with them.

No-one knew for sure where the thief had gone, but he had, they thought, run off towards the princes apartments. There the doors were most unusually now locked and there was no answer to their knocking, though they could hear sounds inside. Would the emperor give his permission for them to break down the door: they dare not act without it.

The emperor was silent for many minutes. On his face his ministers saw sadness but not anger, lament but also love. What was going on? Eventually the emperor spoke. “Leave the prince and his apartments alone. If he is ready to rule, he must be allowed to act. His will and my will are as one.” The ministers were not at all sure just what this meant, but the message was clear. They were to do precisely nothing.

So the day passed. The emperor remained in his private apartments. Those of the prince remained locked, though smoke could be seen coming out of the chimney and a fire had obviously been lit. And eventually the ministers tired of their waiting and went to bed. The important guests were expected the very next day.

Imagine now their surprise in the morning when they went to the treasure cabinet to prepare its items for display and found the precious bowl back in its place, whole again, but glistening with veins of gold where the cracks had been. Its beauty seemed all the greater. And by it the prince’s crown, a slim band now, but speaking in its simplicity of a strength, an authority all the more striking, because it had given itself away and given glory to another, but was the greater itself for it. The investiture could go ahead.

A smile of secret understanding passed between the emperor and the son whose newly scarred hands had shown him worthy to come into the kingdom.

Kintsukuroi means ‘to repair with gold’ in Japanese, and is the art of repairing pottery with gold and understanding that the piece is the more beautiful for having been broken.

Source | David Thompson at Bishop’s Blog

CONSIDER THIS

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” | Author either Billie Mobayed or Barbara Bloom (conflicting data)

THE WISE FARMER AND HIS LAZY SONS

A hard-working and generous farmer lived with his three lazy, greedy sons. He was elderly, and just before he died, he called them to him and told them that their inheritance was buried in his fields, and that they would have to dig it up in order to receive it. No sooner than his spirit left him than his sons went out and tore apart the fields looking for the buried treasure. Having dug up the entire farm and found nothing, however, they began to wonder if it was a trick, and if their father, in his generosity, had already given all his money away to the poor. One of the sons said, “Well, we’ve already dug the fields, we might as well sow a crop to take advantage of it.” His brothers agreed, and they planted wheat in the fields, took in a good harvest, and sold it for a large sum.
After the harvest, the sons wondered if they might have just missed the treasure when digging for it, so they dug up the fields once again just in case; having found no treasure, they once again planted a crop and sold it. This continued for a few years, until the sons had at last become accustomed to the labor and realized the lesson that their father had left them with on their deathbed. They became honest and content, and lived their lives in peace.

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Another shorter version:
Once upon a time there was a farmer who had three lazy sons. While he and his wife worked day and night to tend their vineyards the sons refused to lift a finger. On his deathbed the farmer told them that he had buried a treasure in the vineyard. The sons dug up every inch of the vineyard trying to find the pot of gold. After many years of searching, they never found the spot where the treasure was hidden. However, all of their digging cultivated the ground in the vineyard. Soon the grapevines produced such abundant fruit that the three lazy sons grew wealthy, unwittingly, from their own hard work.
PONDER AND CONSIDER
  • There is not such thing as a fruitful harvest without the sweat of sowing and planting.