The Richest Man on Earth
There was a learned man who, for several years, longed to be shown the way to God. Everyday, he sat apart from men and prayed that he might be brought into contact with a Sage, a Saint, and a Knower of Truth. One day, as he sat in prayer, he heard a Voice say, "Go to such and such a place, and you will meet the man who will show you the way to blessedness and bliss!"
Great was his joy when he heard the words. Forthwith he went to the place indicated by the Voice. He was surprised to find a man, humble, simple, poor, with tattered cloths on his body, his feet soiled with mud. The learned man looked all around him, but found no other man seated there.
So, to this man, he said, "Good morning to you!"
Quietly, answered the poor man, "I have never had a bad morning!"
"God give you good luck!" said the learned man.
"I have never had ill-luck!" answered the poor man.
The learned man's astonishment grew. "May you be happy!" he said to the poor man.
To which the poor man answered, "I have never been unhappy!"
"I am unable to understand," said the learned man, "Pray explain it all to me."
"Gladly," said the poor man. "You wished me a good morning. I have never had a bad morning. For, if I do not get food to eat, I praise God. If it rains or snows, or if the weather is foul, I still praise God. If I am despised and have no human company, I praise God! So I have never had a bad morning, never an evil day.
"You wished me good luck: but I have never had ill-luck. For I always dwell at the Lotus Feet of the Lord: and I know that whatever God sends to me is the very best that can ever happen to me. I cheerfully accept everything that comes to me health or sickness, prosperity or adversity, joy or sorrow as a gift from God. I have never had ill-luck.
"You wished me happiness. I have never been unhappy. For the deepest longing of my heart is to live in union with God's Will, and I have so entirely yielded my will to the Will of God, that what God wills, I will!"
Astonished, the learned man asked, "What if God's Will should cast you into hell?"
"Cast me into hell!" exclaimed the poor man. "God too loves to do that. But even if He sends me to hell, I should have two arms with which to embrace Him. One is the arm of humility, the other of love. With them I should so embrace Him that He would have to go to hell with me. I would rather be in hell and be with God, than be in heaven and remain away from God!"
The poor man taught that in self-surrender, in utter humility, is the simplest, surest, nearest way to God.
When asked who he was, he answered, "I am a king!"
He was the very picture of destitution: and yet he felt he was a king! For he had learnt to walk the way of acceptance. He accepted all that came his way and rejoiced in all that happened. He expected nothing: he hoped for nothing: he needed nothing: he lacked nothing.
Was he not the richest of men on earth?