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Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Millionaire's Secret - Give A Piece Of Straw

Posted by patrick

By Masami Sato

A rich man born out of giving!

There is an old historical Japanese tale about giving and it shows how we can receive the most extraordinary gifts when we're giving and appreciative of what we already have.

This is the folk tale.

Once upon a time, there was a poor young farmer. Everything he did in his life never seemed to produce any wealth for him. He was totally broke with no money, no family and no food. So one night he sneaked into a temple and sat by the altar and in desperation asked the Gods what he was supposed to do.

"I have always been honest and hardworking, but all my hard work never produced any reward for me. What am I doing wrong?"

He fell asleep near the altar just after he put the question. When he woke up in the morning, he saw in front of him one of the Gods he had seen in his dream, with a bright golden light around him. The God's voice reverberated in his mind.

"After you wake up in the morning, value that which you have in your hand and keep giving it fully to others as you move forward," the God told him.

The farmer was brimming with questions when he woke up but he tried to shake off his sleep and clear his mind of the strange but clear dream he had. However, he saw a bit of a straw in his hand. It must have remained on his clothes while he worked in his fields.

He almost threw it away, but stopped short of doing it recollecting what God had said about it. He seated himself again and stared at the straw in his hand.

He sat for a long while wondering what that meant. He had no idea how a broken bit of a straw can be of any use to him. Suddenly he saw a wasp buzzing around. The wasp soon alighted on the tip of the straw. He caught hold of the wasp and bound it to the straw with a piece of string from his dress. Thus with a piece of straw with a wasp at one end, he proceeded.

He had gone a little way when he found a small boy and his mother coming towards him from the other end of the road. The boy was weeping. When he said hello to the boy, the child noticed the straw that the man had with a wasp at one end. He stopped his weeping and wanted to have the straw. The farmer was hesitant to give it but then he remembered that God had asked him to value what we owned and also give it to others profusely. So he gave the straw to the boy. The mother was relieved as the boy stopped crying when he got the straw and the wasp. In return she gave the man three tangerines.

The farmer moved on. As he proceeded, he felt hungry. He was about to eat the tangerines when he again remembered that what was important was giving things to others, not giving it to himself.

He had to climb a steep hill and there he saw a trader sitting on the earth under a tree. Near the man was a wooden box. The farmer wished the trader who seemed to be very tired. The trader saw the tangerines the farmer had and asked if he could have them. The trader said he was very thirsty.

The farmer was also equally thirsty as the day was hot and he had walked pretty long, still he gave all the three tangerines to the trader. The man ate all the three tangerines and felt fully energized. He felt very thankful to the farmer who was so kind. To show his gratitude, he opened the box that he had kept near him. The box contained several bolts of hand dyed silk. The trader took out one roll, gifted it to the farmer and left.

The farmer walked again and continued on the same path. After a while he found a river from which he drank water. He felt recharged. He went forward with more energy and a feeling of ease.

The farmer walked and walked not seeing anyone for a long time. He started to think that maybe this was it - his fortune. So, he decided to go to the nearby town to sell the fabric.

But just as he went around the corner, he saw in front of him a band of fighters. One of the fighters who looked liked the head of the band stood near a horse that was lying on the earth. The farmer heard the leader talking to his men.

"It does not appear that this horse would live much. We will have to leave it here. Nurse it well and catch up with me." With this the leader jumped on to another horse and rode off, moving out of people's sight.

The fighters who remained there conferred among themselves as to what to do. They had no interest in putting it to death but there was no other option. Finally one of them drew the sword.

The farmer quickly ran over to them and asked them to stop. He said he would like to look after the horse. He also offered the silk fabric to the warriors. They jumped at the offer and took off very quickly.

With the dying horse by his side, the farmer just remained there. He wondered if he had done things wrongly and whether he would never become rich. Suddenly he remembered the river he had seen on the way.

He made his way to the river and once there stripped off his shirt and dipped it in water to be able to feed the horse. He made his way back to the horse again and fed it by squeezing out the water into its mouth. After the water trickled in for a while, the horse reacted and soon became conscious. The farmer was then able to pull it up and make it stand.

Once the horse could stand, the farmer was able to take it to the river. The horse drank directly from the river and the farmer also led it to the patches of grass nearby. Very soon the animal was rejuvenated.

So now the farmer owned the horse! The man and the animal traveled together, and the farmer had to run as the horse led the way. They traveled together for miles. Finally, as the sun was setting, the horse came to a halt in front of a big house. The animal pushed the farmer towards the gate when he finally drew level with it.

As the farmer approached the gate, the doors swung open and to his surprise, an old man appeared. The old man was rushing outside and was looking a little pale. He noticed the farmer and the horse standing by the gate.

The old man asked the farmer what he was doing. The farmer said he was looking for a place to stay the night. The old man said he was going to the town for an urgent matter. He asked the farmer if he minded looking after his house until he returned. He said he might not be able to come back for a little while.

Since the old man appeared to be in a hurry, the farmer said that he can use the horse. The old man felt glad about the gesture and accepted the offer. He left with the horse but before he left told the farmer something strange.

"If I do not come back in three years' time, this house belongs to you."

As you possibly deduced, the old man did not come back.

The farmer lived in the large house for the rest of his life with a land full of crops surrounded by kind neighbors happily ever after. But he never forgot to always give away the things he had.

Thank you for going through this story. And what is the message that it contains?

Perhaps there is a secret to things. When we can turn the business of getting into the business of giving, our life gushes forward with greater plentitude. Still it might not be easy to incorporate into practical life this age old wisdom.

Here are some of the interesting distinctions we can find in this story :

* When we give the things that others want, they usually value it more than we value it while when we are trying to 'sell' something (because fundamentally, we want to get something from the deal), they compare the value with our asking price and try to pay less.

* When we are not possessive of whatever we have, we will perceive that we thereby have more chances as we can release the existing possessions.

* When life seems to deal us a bad hand, instead of focusing on the problem if instead we focused on giving and caring, life seems to end up bringing better luck later.

* If we try to turn into cash what we have accumulated, because of the conviction that "this is all it would get" thinking that if we do not encash it, we will lose, our life will stand still. Instead, why don't we keep on giving more and more irrespective of what we have or whether we are actually rich or not.

Gifting is an inherent part of the lives of most winners. When we are ready to give first, we have better chances of living a life of perfection, ease and growth.

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