The Secret of the Begging Basket

One morning upon coming out of his palace, a king meets a beggar and asks: “What do you want?” The beggar laughs to the amazement of the king. “What’s so funny?”, asked the king. The beggar replied: “You ask as if you can grant my desire!” The king was offended and he replied: “Sure I can, what is it?” The beggar warns him, “Think twice before making any promises”


The beggar wasn’t an ordinary beggar. Actually, he was the king’s master in his past-life who made him a promise back then, “I will come to you in our next life to wake you up, to test how wise you are and to see whether you learned from my teachings in the past.”




The king didn’t recognize his master and he insisted, “I will grant anything you ask, after all I’m very powerful and wealthy, I can fulfill any desire”. The beggar said, “My desire is simple. Can you fill this begging basket?” “Are you kidding me!? Definitely!”, said the king. Then he instructed his vizier to fill the man’s basket with money. The vizier did, but as soon as the money was poured into the basket, it disappeared. He poured more and some more, but it would all disappear soon after.


This was shocking and word spread throughout the kingdom. Of course, a great crowd gathered to watch what was happening. The power and pride of the king were at stake, and he didn’t want to accept defeat. So, he told his vizier to keep pouring money even if it meant losing his kingdom. The king continued to empty his wealth into the basket; gold, pearls, sapphire, diamond and what have you. His treasury fast became empty. Yet the begging basket was still empty, it was like a black hole.


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The crowd was silently watching. At last, the king fell at the beggar’s feet and accepted defeat. “You’ve won! But before you leave, please satisfy my curiosity. What really is the secret of this begging basket? Why can’t it get full no matter how much I pour into it?


The beggar smiled and humbly replied, “There isn’t any secret. It’s just made up of human desire”


You see, happiness lies not in the abundance of one’s possessions. If you rely on material possessions for happiness, you’ll never be satisfied. One of our greatest challenges in life is to ensure that our purpose doesn’t become like the begging basket in this story, a black hole of desire that continually seeks for something to fill it; yet it never gets full. If you keep searching for the next shiny object that will make you happy, you’ll live a miserable life. Sure, getting money and buying something you want can give you temporal happiness, but it rapidly fades. Having more money or possessions won’t lead to lasting happiness.


If you don’t have a “big picture” of where you’re headed in life, you won’t be satisfied by your successes. You will keep wandering around, looking for something else to do. You need to have a clear vision and purpose for your life that keeps you grounded. It helps you to slow down and enjoy what you have. Else, you will live a life of acquiring and achieving without ever taking time to enjoy it. That’s what it means to be a beggar.


So how can you find lasting happiness?

Happiness happens on the journey to fulfillment. It’s all about the journey and not the result. The satisfaction you get daily as you work on your passion. The joy that comes from adding value to someone’s life. That passion fuels your actions and it keeps you going no matter how hard it is. Along the way, you just realize that you’ve acquired material possessions. It hits you by surprise but you didn’t actually set out for the money. If you set out for the money, you’ll never be satisfied. Your purpose is like taking a road trip towards the horizon. No matter how much you drive towards it, the horizon still remains ahead of you. The satisfaction comes from the trip itself, the beautiful scenery, the music you enjoy in the car with your family. The different times you stop along the way to take cool pictures, to grab a bite, or maybe just to visit a park you come across. It’s all about the journey. When your daily actions fulfill a greater purpose, the most lasting and powerful happiness will happen.



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