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Chapter 23: It Is a Carbon Copy

I am reminded of an ancient Sufi story: A great emperor had gone for a walk in his garden early in the morning, and suddenly he found himself encountered by a beggar who was waiting in the garden, knowing that every day before sunrise he comes. Otherwise who is going to give an appointment with the emperor to a beggar? And he always comes alone, so there is no problem. The emperor said, “What do you want?”

The beggar said, “This is my begging bowl and I want it to be filled. And this is my condition: if you cannot fill it.and I am not asking with what - gold, silver, diamonds, or stones or mud - I am not saying anything about with what. My condition is that it should be filled completely. If you accept my condition, then only, try; otherwise I can go.”

It was a great challenge to the emperor. He said, “What do you think? - I cannot fill your begging bowl?” He immediately called his prime minister and told him, “Fill his begging bowl with the most precious diamonds.”

The beggar said, “Once again I say to you, beggar to beggar, that there is still time, I can go.” The emperor said, “What do you mean by, ‘beggar to beggar’?”

He said, “You will understand it a little later on. Just let your prime minister come.”

And he came with a bucket full of diamonds and poured all the diamonds in the small begging bowl. The emperor and the prime minister both could not believe.as the diamonds fell in the begging bowl, they disappeared. The begging bowl remained empty - as empty as it was before. But the emperor was a man of great pride. He said, “Even if my whole treasury has to be poured, this beggar has to be defeated. I have defeated emperors; I cannot allow this beggar to defeat me. And he has already called me ‘beggar to beggar.’”

As the sun was rising, the rumor went around the capital that the emperor was in great difficulty. His treasure was being swallowed by the begging bowl. Crowds gathered; nobody could believe it. But the emperor was stubborn. Diamonds and rubies and emeralds and sapphires disappeared, then gold, then silver. By the evening the emperor said, “You were right. Now I am as much a beggar as you are.” The beggar said, “That’s why I was saying, ‘You will understand.’”

The emperor said, “You have deceived me. This is not a begging bowl and you are not a beggar. You seem to be a magician!”

The beggar said, “No, I am not a magician, I am simply a beggar. But this begging bowl is really magical. And I will tell you the secret, beggar to beggar.

“I found this - just come close and have a look. This is the skull of a man. I have polished it, made it clean. I found it in the cemetery. I am so poor that I cannot buy a begging bowl from the market, so I said, ‘This is perfectly good.’ I washed it, cleaned it, polished it, but because it is the skull of a man, it is never satisfied, it is always asking for more. There is not much mystery in it. Your skull is doing the same. Everybody’s head is doing the same, ‘More!’”

In asking for more you go on missing that which you have.

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