But the king was also adamant, an egoist, a conqueror of many lands. He said, “Even if my whole empire is needed, I have given my word and it has to be fulfilled.”
Slowly, slowly, all the precious stones disappeared. Then gold, then silver, but they went on disappearing. By the evening, the king himself was a beggar, and the bowl was as empty as it had been in the morning.
The beggar said, “I am amazed. Such a great emperor and you cannot fill a poor beggar’s bowl?”
People had been watching the whole day, the rumor spread all over the country. The whole capital had gathered. People from faraway places had rushed to see. The king fell at the feet of the beggar and asked, “I have failed to fulfill my promise; forgive me. But I will think that you have forgiven me only if you tell me the secret of your begging bowl, where the whole empire has disappeared to. All my wealth – where has it gone? Is it a magic bowl? Are you a magician?”
The poor beggar laughed. He said, “No, I am not a magician. By accident, because I didn’t have any money even to purchase a begging bowl, I found this skull of some dead man. I polished it, cut it into the shape of a begging bowl. The secret is, man’s skull is so small, but even the greatest empire is not going to fill it. It will go on asking for more. I am not a magician, the magic is in the human head. And because of this bowl, I have been hungry for days. Everything disappears and the desire remains the same.”
When a man reaches the highest rung of the ladder his whole life is gone, and what does he find there? Nothing – but it needs courage to say it to others who are behind him, struggling to reach the top.
Gautam Buddha renounced his kingdom, not without reason. Mahavira renounced his kingdom, not without reason. The twenty-four tirthankaras, the great masters of the Jainas, all renounced kingdoms. They cannot all be mad. But they have seen the reality: their fathers were successful, but successful only in the eyes of others. Others could not see inside them. Inside, they were still beggars, bigger beggars than when they started this journey of ambition. There comes a point when you start feeling that your whole educational system, that your well-intentioned parents, have all been fast asleep.
And there is no way of going back; there is no way of having your youth again. There is no way to let the flowers of love grow in you – you have become dry and hard and dead, because the competition is tough and to be successful you have to be tough. That toughness destroys all your beautiful values – love, joy, ecstasy. You never think of meditation. Money is your only meditation.
The first question comes from a rich man:
Then said a rich man, Speak to us of Giving.