These are the dog days of summer and perhaps you are heading out to achieve ataraxy on the beach.
Here is something for you to ponder.
When I first read, in Matthew, that “… to him that hath will more be given.” It made a deep impression on me.
The newer King James version is “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Matthew 13.12
This bothered me a great deal. It seemed so unfair. Why should those who already had plenty get more? It also seemed cruel. Why strip away stuff from those who were already poor?
True the capitalist system has spawned its share of predatory vultures who prey upon the weak and the powerless. But wasn’t that precisely the ill outcome that needs to be rectified? Why was an apostle speaking like this?
It was much later that I realized that Jesus was speaking in parables. You have to look beyond the literal meaning of what the words seem to say.
Here is an excerpt from my book “Happiness at Work.”
Brij was the leader of a gang of brigands, dangerous and brutal. There was much blood on his hands and a price on his head, but so fearsome was his reputation that no one attempted to apprehend him. He had an extraordinarily vivid dream, one that kept repeating with startling clarity: He saw a holy man and somehow knew that the sage had something of great value. He knew that he had to get that thing.
One day, when Brij was walking alone in the jungle, he chanced across a traveler and instantly recognized the holy man of his dream. He promptly knocked the man down with his stave and dealt him a few blows to soften him up. “Give it to me! Give it to me now!” he screamed. “Where are you hiding the treasure?”
In vain did the holy man protest that he had no treasure. The brigand searched his meager belongings. His bag had some food that was examined and thrown away. There were some stones and a few small silver ornaments, and the brigand pocketed the latter. They were not particularly valuable but offered some recompense for his effort. He searched diligently, even tearing the traveler’s slippers and breaking his water pot. When he found nothing, he beat the holy man a few more times in frustration and walked away.
He had barely gone a dozen yards when he heard a feeble voice behind him calling him back. “Perhaps this is what you were looking for, my son,” said the holy man, and he held up one of the stones the brigand had thrown away. Brij grabbed it, hit the man again for good measure, and departed.
A few months later, he was in a nearby town and, on a whim, visited the town jeweler and asked him to look at the stone. “Where did you get this?” asked the jeweler in astonishment. It was an uncut diamond of great value.
The jeweler offered him a princely sum, but Brij did not sell that stone. He borrowed against it and bribed the police and politicians to forget about his past. He set up a trading business and it flourished, making him a wealthy man. His caravans went to distant countries, bringing back exotic foods and unimagined luxuries. He married and
begat children and became a prosperous citizen, with his days of crime far behind him. But his sleep was fi tful, and there was something missing in his life.
A dream came again. He saw the same holy man and once more knew that the man had something of value that he had to get. The dream came with increasing frequency, and the former brigand knew that he would encounter the sage again.
Sure enough, the next week he came across the holy man making his way through the marketplace, leaning heavily on a stick. Is it my doing that his leg is crooked, the trader wondered guiltily.
Hurrying over, he greeted the holy man with great respect and begged him to visit his house. The sage agreed. Brij served him food with his own hands and fanned him while he rested. He observed that the holy man had no wrinkles, and his skin was as smooth as a baby’s.
There was ineffable peace on his face even when in repose. When the other woke and was ready to resume his journey, the trader fell at his feet and begged him to share the treasure.
“My son, you already took the treasure the last time we met,” the holy man remarked, his eyes twinkling. “Do you not remember? I have nothing left.”
With tears in his eyes, the ex-brigand repented his actions and begged for forgiveness. Rushing into his house, he returned with the stone he had preserved and held it out to the sage.
“This was the bauble I stole from you,” sobbed the merchant. “Holy One, please accept this back and give me the real treasure you possess.”
“What do you desire, my child?” queried the sage.
“Teach me,” pleaded Brij. “Give me that which enabled you to give the stone away so freely. I now know that that is the real treasure you possess.”
What is promised in Matthew is not material stuff. What is promised is knowledge, understanding and faith. And the more you have of this, the more you bring it into every aspect of your life and the more you get of it.
And there is a corollary that is the secret of great success. This corollary will lead you to levels of accomplishment you may not even dream about.
If this is of interest to you, wait till next week!