The desire for wealth has always been a moral burden for mankind. Sometimes, it can even make enemies out of friends, and people betray loved ones or society for it’s tangible benefits.
There once was a Zen master who was approached by a man with a question: “What is the most terrible thing in the world?”
The Zen master answered: “Desires!”
This answer left the man puzzled. Noticing this, the Zen master said: “Let me tell you a story.”
The terrible gold
One day, a monk came running out of the woods, seeming very anxious. When he bumped into two friends, they asked him what was wrong.
The monk explained: “I just dug up something horrible in the woods—gold! “ The two men said: “What’s horrible about that? How foolish of you to think that way. Please tell us where you dug up the gold.”
The monk said: “Oh, that stuff is awful. Besides, it devours people.” The two men shrugged and replied: “We aren’t afraid. Just tell us where you found it!” The monk explained: “Over there in the woods, at the western edge of the woods. ” The two men followed the monk’s directions and found the gold.
One of the men said to the other: “The monk is a fool. Everyone has the desire to own some gold, and he thinks it devours.” The other man agreed and nodded.
The two men started planning how they would get the gold home. One man said: “We should do it in the night, when no one can see us. Why don’t you go home and fetch some food for us, while I wait here and guard the gold! After it turns dark, we’ll take the gold home.” The other man agreed, and went back home to fetch some food.
The man who stayed behind to guard the gold thought to himself: “If I could own all this gold, I would have no more worries in life. Yes, as soon as he returns, I’ll club him to death with a wooden stick.”
The other man who was on his way back to fetch food also thought to himself: “I’ll go back and eat by myself, then poison the rest of the food. Yes, after he dies, I will have all the gold for myself.”
That evening, when the man returned with food for his friend, he was clubbed to death. The killer said: “Dear friend, don’t hate me, hate this gold before me.”
Then he ate the food his friend had brought back. Only moments passed before he started feeling unpleasant, like his stomach had caught on fire. Just then, when he realized that he had been poisoned, he said: “The monk’s words are so true.”
The above story elaborates an ancient Chinese saying: Men die for money, and birds die for food.
It seems the root of greed lies in the desires in one’s heart. The desire accompanying greed has turned many best friends into sworn enemies.