The heart of the thief was touched. He had heard the word compassion but now he came to know it for the first time in his life. No condemnation, no judgment. On the contrary, he was going to help him to steal from his own house.
The thief said, “Just forgive me, master. I was unaware that it was your house; otherwise, I would not have dared to enter.”
The master said, “But you cannot go empty-handed, and I have only this blanket. Outside it is too cold. Please, accept this blanket.”
He gave his blanket and the thief was amazed that he was naked underneath – that was all he possessed. The thief tried to persuade him…
The master said, “Don’t wound me anymore. Next time when you come just let me know in advance; I will make arrangements, and if you need a certain thing you can mention that too. There are so many lovers in this town, so many disciples and devotees, I assure you. I am ashamed because my blanket is old. It is not worth giving to anyone, but just see my helplessness and be kind enough to accept it. I will remain grateful to you for my whole life.”
The thief was in a dilemma: what to do? He had never seen such a man. He touched the feet of the master, took the blanket – because now it was too difficult to refuse – and rushed out of the house, because it was getting too hard to remain in his presence. He had seen emperors and he had seen generals but he had never seen a human being.
As he was going out, the master said, “Remember, don’t forget; you have made me so happy. For my whole life, I have been a beggar. I have never known the joy of giving. You have turned me from a beggar into an emperor by receiving my old and rotten blanket. Your heart is large, your understanding is deep. Come again and again.”
As the thief left, the master was sitting, shivering; it was so cold. He saw the full moon from his window and he wrote a small haiku which means:
Why has the existence made me so poor?
Only this moment, encountering the thief I have felt my poverty. If I could give him this beautiful moon, I would have given it also.
The question is not whether the person you are giving something to deserves it or not. The question is whether he needs it or not. Give to him out of love; give out of respect. Don’t destroy anybody’s dignity.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
This is simply a virgin statement. Nobody – no Krishna, no Buddha, no Jesus – has ever been able to assert such a deep truth: the charity of receiving. They have all been talking about the charity of giving.