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sufi tale

March 14, 2012

tells an old story Sufi that one ordinary morning an emperor was about to take his walk when he bumped into a beggar. Seeing him, he said 'tell me what you want and I'll give it to you', and the beggar, unable to contain his laughter, answered him 'questions as if you could fulfill my wish...' the emperor, who felt challenged, asked him assured that it was. The truth is that it was not just any beggar, but he was one of the great teachers in a past life of the emperor; he had promised him that he would come back in his next life to help him wake up, 'you have missed this life but I will come again'. Obviously the emperor had completely forgotten... who remembers his past lives? So stubborn, he insisted 'I will fulfill any wish you ask for, I am a very powerful emperor, what can you wish for that I cannot give you?' The beggar finally spoke 'it is a very simple wish, do you see this begging vessel? Well, I'd like you to fill it with something.' Immediately the emperor had one of his viziers I brought a lot of money, but when I poured it into the pot it disappeared. He flipped over and over, and as soon as he fell he disappeared. The pot was always empty. The entire palace gathered, and soon the rumor spread through the capital, concentrating a gigantic crowd: the emperor's prestige was at stake! That he was willing to lose everything rather than be defeated by a beggar. Diamonds, pearls and emeralds... his treasures were emptied, and the beggar's jar was always empty. Tired of fighting, the emperor finally fell at the beggar's feet and admitted his defeat, 'it's okay, you've won, but before you go tell me one thing, what is this pot made of?' The beggar laughed and said: 'This vessel is like the human mind, it works just like desire.' When you go after a desire you first experience excitement, suspense, adventure. You feel that something is about to happen. But when you achieve it (the car, the yacht, the house, the woman...) you discover that the feeling of triumph passes quickly and immediately you feel like you did before, believing that a new goal will be the definitive one to maintain happiness. This is so because the path of desire is an illusion of the ego, which tries to compensate for the inner emptiness by putting the attention outside of yourself.

Therefore, the excitement existed just to get it... and you got so drunk with it, that for a few moments you forgot what screams inside you. This is how we move from one desire to another. This is how we remain beggars. Zen: The Way of Paradox Vol. 2, pp. 208-22

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