The stranger walks to the village square where he watches two men go about their business for the day. One is a wealthy banker, who trades money, making small loans and charging huge amounts of interest. The other man forages through the forest to find fruit that he sells from door to door, taking whatever he can get for the fruit. One of the men is angry and sad, while the other man is full of love and peace.
The banker is always frustrated with life, he works from sunrise to sunset trying to squeeze the most out of every piece of gold. Gold becomes an obsession with him, nothing pleases him more than to see all his gold. So he gets up early, has a cup of tea, and walks through the streets knowing that people will approach him in need of money. He’s always angry for he thinks people are beggars… no matter how much money they have. If they do own pounds upon pounds of gold they are nothing in his mind. People are only the possibility of creating more money, taking what little they have, in order to have more of what he already has copious amounts of. When it comes time for lunch he goes to the best tavern and drinks heavy of wine and beer. He fills himself with lots of fattening food, lots of meat, cheese, pastries, and anything else he can eat. And he eats fast because he doesn’t want to miss the next opportunity that might come his way. After eating he’s always in pain, bloated, and feeling sad.
He’s so very heavy, his ankles and knees strain under the weight, and there are red lines in his nose and cheeks from drinking so much. He labors with each breath, and barely strides as he moves each leg from side to side. His house is elaborate and full of treasures, full of the finest things he could find throughout the world. But at night he gasps and coughs, and his sleep is interrupted all night long. And he gets up and runs to relieve himself many times during the night, and his dreams are filled with anxiety, anger, pain, and suffering. Yet he forces himself out of bed every morning and starts the whole process over again… day after day. He lives in his own personal abyss, surrounded by all his possessions, and empty inside, but deep down inside he feels there has to be more to life than just this. There are no goals, no future thoughts of possibilities to come, only living for the next breath… and the next coin to be made.
The other man goes out into the woods everyday to climbs trees and collects fruit. He enjoys nature and likes being alone in the silence, and sometimes he sits under a tree with his eyes closed and meditates for long periods of time. He awakens from his meditation refreshed, connected to himself, with a great understanding of all that goes on around him. He is a lover of God – The One and Only. He is humble, kind, and caring, and needs little and ask for even less. As he collects fruit in the forest he only takes what he needs, and leave the rest for the animals and to re-seed the forest once again. In this way he knows the forest will continue to bring food to him and others, and to the animals of the forest. He believes that God will provide no matter what happens, thus he owns little and has very little money.
He is happy as he goes about his day collecting fruit. There’s always a smile on his face as he climbs trees, becoming strong and flexible has he goes about his work. He is thin, but yet not too thin, he is healthy and strong because all he eats is fruits, roots, a healthy greens that he finds in the forest. He can run fast for long periods of time without losing his breath, and he walks miles and miles every day. Every night he sleeps well, and wakes up refreshed and looks forward to another wonderful day. Much of the fruit that he collects he gives of those who have very little to eat. For he feels fortunate to have food, and he knows what it’s like to be without food. So he shares everything he has with those who are less fortunate. He makes a meager living selling fruit from door to door, just enough to buy a few things he needs. He lives in a very modest dwelling, sparsely furnished, yet beautiful and pleasing to the eye. Everything is simple, there is nothing elaborate or sophisticated. And he has a drawing of his mother and father that he keeps over the hearth, to remember them and have a great gratitude to them… and also to God.
He prays every day, but his prayers do not ask of anything, his prayers are in gratitude to God, the Universe, the One and Only… for all that exists. He is humble for he knows that he’s only a spec in the great cosmos, the multiverse, that stretches beyond what he can imagine. Yet he knows his power, and walks tall feeling good about himself… and he is loving and kind to all those around him.
And the stranger says to himself; two very different men with two very different lives. And the stranger watches this for a while and then nods his head and walks down the street.
To be continued…
Dr. Paul Haider
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