A beggar came to an emperor and said, ‘If you want to give me anything there is a condition.’

The Emperor said, ‘What do you mean a condition?’

The beggar said, ‘This is my condition: I accept only if you can fill my begging bowl absolutely.’

It was a small begging bowl. The King said, ‘What do you think I am? Am I a beggar? I cannot fill this dirty small begging bowl?’

The beggar said, ‘It is better to tell you before, because later you can get into trouble. If you think you can fill, you have to fill it to the rim.’

The King called his vizier and told him to fill it with precious stones: with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. Let this beggar know with whom he is talking!

But then there was difficulty. The bowl was filled but the king was surprised — as the stone fell into it, it would disappear. It was filled many times and each time it was again empty.

Now he was in a great rage, but he told the vizier, ‘Even if my whole kingdom goes, if all my treasuries are emptied, let them be — but I cannot allow this beggar to defeat me. This is too much.’

And all the treasures, it is said, disappeared. By and by the king became a beggar. It took months. And the beggar was there and the king was there and the whole capital was there and everybody was wondering what was going to happen in the end. Everything was simply disappearing.

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Finally the king had to fall at the feet of the beggar and he said, ‘Forgive me, but before you leave just tell me one thing. What is the secret of this begging bowl? All has disappeared in it.’

The beggar started laughing. He said, ‘It is made of human ego. I have made this begging bowl of a human ego: everything disappears in it, nothing ever fulfils it.’

It is a tremendously beautiful story. That’s what is happening to you. It is not a story, it is your life.

You go on putting in your begging bowl houses, cars, bank balances — everything disappears and again soon you are empty. Never any satisfaction, never any contentment. Again you are begging.

You have been doing it for all your life. It is your story. It is literally, not just symbolically true.

We remain a beggar. The begging bowl remains empty. It seems it has no bottom to it. You drop everything in it, it simply disappears.

The ego is never fulfilled.


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