A story from the Hindu tradition:
Once upon a time, a traveling monk reached the outskirts of a village and settled down under a tree for the night. A villager came running up to him and said:
“The stone! The Stone! Give me the precious stone!”
“What stone?” asked the monk.
“Last night Lord Shiva appeared to me in a dream,” said the villager, “and told me that if I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk I would find a monk who would give me a precious stone that would make me rich forever.”
The monk rummaged in his bag and pulled out the largest diamond, as large as a person’s head. “He probably meant this one, said the monk as he handed the diamond over to the villager. “I found it on a forest path some days ago. You may certainly have it.”
The villager gazed in wonder at the diamond and returned to his home with it. All night he tossed about in his bed, unable to sleep. At dawn he walked back to the edge of the village, woke the monk, and said “Please sir, give me the wealth that makes it possible for you give this diamond away so easily.”
Humans are needy creatures. I’m not referring to the needs of our bodies for nourishment and shelter — although those are important. Somewhere beyond that, or above or below it, we seek a deeper fulfillment. The irony is that seeking it “out there” is almost an iron-clad guarantee not to find it.
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