Here is a story..obviously from the great Hindu Mahasamudram. It is an obvious cut paste (which means it is NOT original), but the learning is more materialistic. Obviously at the philosophical level it is the Gandhian philosophy – there is enough for every man’s need, not for every man’s greed. Or you could take it like the philosophy of salt – too much and the broth is spoiled, but absence can make the broth unpalatable. I enjoyed telling it to my daughter..I hope you enjoy reading it!
Long ago, there lived in India, a trader who went daily from his house in the foothills to the town below, for doing some trade.
“I must have a holiday,” he said to himself one day, and he began to climb up into the hills to enjoy the hills. He saw a cave and went inside. He found a large earthen jar. Then another, and another and another — there were seven jars there, altogether! He wondered if he dared to open them. Curiosity overcame fright! There was no sound of anyone about and he did open it. He found he could lift the lid of the first jar. And vow! It was full of gold coins. So were the second, third, fourth and fifth. Under the lid of the sixth jar he found an aged piece of paper.
On it was written, “Finder, beware! The seven jars of gold are yours, but there is a curse. No one who takes them with him can leave the curse behind.”
Now, next to curiosity, greed is perhaps the most powerful urge! He wasted no time in borrowing a cart to carry the jars of gold to his house. It was exhausting, but surely worth the effort or so he thought! Bulky and hard to lift, they had to be taken two by two; in the dark of night he somehow managed to take them to his house. On the last trip, with the seventh jar alone, thankfully the load was lighter, and he noticed nothing.
“Let me count the coins,” he thought, “and see how great my fortune is.”
But when that seventh jar was opened he found it was only half-full.
“What!” he cried, “I was promised seven jars!”
He had thrown the note away and forgotten about the curse. The merchant was overcome and obsessed by a spirit of grasping and greed. Obsessed with greed, the merchant made it the goal of his life now, to fill that seventh jar with gold coins. “I must fill the seventh jar with gold,” was his constant thought. Yet, strangely, the more he put into the jar, the more it remained half-full.
He lived some years more, but never did he enjoy spending the gold he had found, because it was never enough.
Lessons from the story:
• The trader was a bachelor and led a simple life – it would have hardly mattered whether he had the gold or did not have – money does not always change lives.
• Once we see 7 jars, we think it is our right to get it. Like we think the market SHOULD go to 21000.
• We have got used to a tax free compounding of equity returns – so again it has become our RIGHT.
• If my investment of Rs. 500 in 1978 has grown to Rs. 32,00,000 today, it is MY RIGHT. However if I have to pay 10% of that in tax, it hurts. However if it had become only (!) Rs. 29,00,000 I would not have cribbed, that is all.
• If your goal is not well articulated and well thought of, life can be terrible.
• If the trader had got 4 jars, and the 5th jar was just half, he would have spent the rest of his life making that full. Funny, we forget WHAT WE HAVE.
• What we have – our family, friends, enough to eat, a roof over our head – are perhaps far more important, but we ignore them.
• The government can tax only people who have money – so capital gains will become a reality sooner or later, be ready.
• Wealth tax and Estate duty exist all over the world, we will have to learn to accept it – sooner or later.
• Curiosity, Greed, Fear – need to be controlled, we can rarely conquer it fully.
• Risk is a part of investing – the merchant throwing away the chit did not ELIMINATE the risk.
• To enjoy life you do not need too much money, you should know how to manage money well.
• It is easier to get wealth than to use it for happiness. You can even get it with luck, but managing it is an art.
One important learning for the life insurance industry – mis-selling was done even in mythological tales – and the buyer was disappointed (6 and a half jars vs. 7 jars promised: AND ALL FREE). What will happen to a life insurance customer who has been promised 36% return who gets 3.6% return? L O L.
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