The Farmer And The Piece Of Straw That Made Him Rich
By: Masami Sato
A millionaire created through giving!
There is an old historical Japanese tale about giving and it shows how we can receive the most extraordinary gifts when we're giving and appreciative of what we already have.
Here is the story.
Once upon a time, there lived a young farmer of very modest means. Whatever he tried to do did not find fruition and he always remained penniless. He was completely broke without any money, without any food and with no relatives. So one night, totally despondent, he went to a temple and sat near the altar begging the Gods to show him a way.
"I have always been truthful and assiduous, but all my industry never resulted in anything good for me. What did I do wrong?"
He slept at the feet of the deity after having put that question. In the morning, just as he woke up, one of the Gods of his dream appeared before him enveloped in a brilliant golden light. The voice of the God resounded in his mind.
"When you wake up in the morning, cherish what you have in your hand and go on giving it to others liberally as you proceed," the God commanded.
The farmer was brimming with questions when he woke up but he tried to shake off his sleep and clear his mind of the strange but clear dream he had. However, he saw a bit of a straw in his hand. It must have remained on his clothes while he worked in his fields.
He was about to throw the straw away, but remembered what God had told him. Once again he sat down. Then he looked curiously at the bit of straw.
He sat for a long while wondering what that meant. He had no idea how a broken bit of a straw can be of any use to him. Suddenly he saw a wasp buzzing around. The wasp soon alighted on the tip of the straw. He caught hold of the wasp and bound it to the straw with a piece of string from his dress. Thus with a piece of straw with a wasp at one end, he proceeded.
He had gone a little way when he found a small boy and his mother coming towards him from the other end of the road. The boy was weeping. When he said hello to the boy, the child noticed the straw that the man had with a wasp at one end. He stopped his weeping and wanted to have the straw. The farmer was hesitant to give it but then he remembered that God had asked him to value what we owned and also give it to others profusely. So he gave the straw to the boy. The mother was relieved as the boy stopped crying when he got the straw and the wasp. In return she gave the man three tangerines.
The man continued on his way. After a while he started feeling hungry and wanted to eat one of the tangerines. But he stopped short of doing it and remembered that he had to gift things to others, not give it to himself.
The farmer was going over a steep hill and on the way he saw a merchant sitting under a tree. The man had a wooden box near him. The farmer wished the man. He appeared to be very tired. He saw the tangerines the farmer held and asked him if he would give it to him. The merchant told the farmer that he was very thirsty.
The farmer was also equally thirsty as the day was hot and he had walked pretty long, still he gave all the three tangerines to the trader. The man ate all the three tangerines and felt fully energized. He felt very thankful to the farmer who was so kind. To show his gratitude, he opened the box that he had kept near him. The box contained several bolts of hand dyed silk. The trader took out one roll, gifted it to the farmer and left.
So off the farmer went again following the path. He found a stream along the way and he took a deep drink making him feel totally refreshed. Life seemed to be easier and was flowing now.
The farmer walked and walked not seeing anyone for a long time. He started to think that maybe this was it - his fortune. So, he decided to go to the nearby town to sell the fabric.
And just when he turned the corner, he saw a group of warriors. One of the warriors who seemed to be the leader was standing by a horse lying on the ground. The farmer heard the voice of the warrior talking to his followers.
"This horse would not last long. We just have to leave it. Just take care of it and catch up." He jumped up on another horse and galloped off disappearing out of sight.
The other warriors were left talking to each other about what to do. They did not want to kill the horse but there seemed to be no other choice. One of them finally drew his sword.
The farmer pleaded with them not to do that. He said he was ready to look after the animal. He said they can have the bolt of silk for letting him care for the horse. They agreed to the deal and left the place quickly.
Now the farmer stood there with a dying horse. He thought he might have made a mistake that after all he was not meant to be wealthy. Then he remembered something. There was the stream he'd just passed.
He made his way to the river and once there stripped off his shirt and dipped it in water to be able to feed the horse. He made his way back to the horse again and fed it by squeezing out the water into its mouth. After the water trickled in for a while, the horse reacted and soon became conscious. The farmer was then able to pull it up and make it stand.
The horse finally stood up on its legs so the farmer could take the horse to the stream. As the horse took more water and ate some fresh green grass around the stream, it soon began to regain strength.
Now the farmer had a horse! They set off again together, this time the man had to run to keep up. The horse was actually leading the way. They ran together for miles. As the sun starting to go down, the horse finally stopped in front of a large house. As the farmer caught up, the horse pushed him with his nose to the entrance of the house.
When the farmer moved towards it, the gates opened and an old man came out of the house. The old man had dashed out of the house and he looked wan. He spotted the horse and the farmer, both just in front of the house.
The old man asked the farmer what it was that he needed. The farmer said that he wanted a place where he could sleep at night. The old man queried the farmer if he would mind looking after the house till his return as he had to leave for the nearby town on a pressing matter. He also said that it might take some time for him to return.
As the old man seemed to be in a hurry, the farmer offered him the horse. The old man appreciated the generous offer and took off with the horse. As he was leaving, he said something peculiar to the farmer.
"If I do not come back in three years' time, this house belongs to you."
As you probably guessed, the old man never returned.
The farmer lived in the large house for the rest of his life with a land full of crops surrounded by kind neighbors happily ever after. But he never forgot to always give away the things he had.
Thank you for reading this story. And what do you think it is all about?
Perhaps there is a secret to things. When we can turn the business of getting into the business of giving, our life gushes forward with greater plentitude. Still it might not be easy to incorporate into practical life this age old wisdom.
Here are some of the interesting distinctions we can find in this story:
* When we give the things that others want, they usually value it more than we value it while when we are trying to 'sell' something (because fundamentally, we want to get something from the deal), they compare the value with our asking price and try to pay less.
* When we are not attached to the things we have, we often find that we attract better opportunities as we can let go of existing ones.
* When we are down and out with the problems of life, instead of worrying about the negativities if we kept focus more on giving others and caring for them, life would surely bring glad tidings later.
* When we try to 'cash in' what we have built up, thinking that "this is the best it gets," because we think we may lose out it if we do not cash in now, our life's growth often ends there. What if instead, we continued to be giving generously no matter what we owned or how physically wealthy we were or were not.
Giving is intrinsic in the lives of many who have made it to the top. When giving is done first, we are better able to lead a life of grandeur, comfort and glory.