Lao Tzu said, “You have collected so much money, that almost fifty percent of the wealth of the city is in your hands, with the other fifty percent in the whole city’s hands. This situation creates the possibility of stealing. This man is a victim; in fact you are the criminal. But I will be very equal: six months jail for both.”
The rich man said, “My God! I have never heard that when somebody steals from your house you are jailed!” He said, “I want first to see the emperor! Even the emperor owes money to me. Whenever he wants, I have been giving money to him.”
And he went to the emperor and said what had happened. “And I have come to remind you that soon you will be in jail also! If this man is going to remain the supreme judge of the empire, you cannot remain out of jail long. We are small criminals according to him. You are the biggest criminal.”
The emperor said, “Perhaps he was right that I would repent. Don’t be worried, I will release him from the service immediately.”
He called Lao Tzu and said, “This is a very strange judgment.”
Lao Tzu said, “It is not. If people were living in harmony with nature, if people were compassionate to each other, if they felt a certain brotherhood with each other, then how could there be rich people and poor people? There should only be people. And there is enough.” At least in those times it was perfectly true, there was enough for everybody to live comfortably.
At that time when Lao Tzu said that, in India the population was only two million. Now the population is nine hundred million, and by the end of this century, if humanity survives – the chances are very slim – India will have one thousand million. For the first time India will be the most populated country; up to now China has remained the first and India number two. In the race India is going to win within ten years.
In those days when the country had only two million people, nature was abundant. There was no need for anybody to be rich or poor. Things could be easily, comfortably enjoyed by all. But it was not the case, neither in India nor in China nor anywhere else. Now it has become absolutely impossible.
But Lao Tzu was right when he said, “A man who collects so much wealth that thousands of people become undernourished – they don’t have houses, they don’t have jobs, they don’t have enough to eat…What do you want? Should they steal or not? Their stealing is not a crime; this rich man is the criminal. What is the point of collecting all this wealth? Your wealth is simply the blood of the people. You should be happy that I’m sending you to jail only for six months. In fact if I’m to be just, that man could go for six months, but you would have to go for your whole life! Less than that would not be justified.”
The emperor said, “I understand. I release you. You were right that I would repent; you are a dangerous fellow.”