A rich disciple had a fine collection of Chinese jades. Then there was a financial crisis in his affairs, and it turned out that he would lose a good deal of his wealth, even perhaps all of it. The teacher mentioned this fact in conversation with a younger disciple who had, like the teacher himself, lived in the Far East. The teacher added unexpectedly: “I have no sympathy with him in his loss. What did he do with wealth? He knows that you have been in the East and would appreciate those jades. But did he ever invite you to see them?” “Well, no,” was the reply, “I didn’t know him so well….”
The teacher looked at him and remarked: “If he had done something to share the beauty of those treasures, he would not now regret them if they go. I have no sympathy with him at all.”
In fact, the financial disaster was not total, but some of the treasures had to be sold.
The teacher’s comment, however, made a deep impression on the younger disciple. After that, whenever he had a stroke of good fortune, he immediately gave away a little, anonymously if he could. At first it was from a feeling that he had been given a hint to avoid misfortune, but soon it became natural. The teacher’s words had set up a good habit.
© 1999 Trevor Leggett