Unquenchable greed

The story goes that when God created the donkey, he told the animal that working from sunrise to sunset for its master was its destiny and that it will have no intelligence but it will live fifty years. The donkey responded by saying: “My Lord! Fifty years of this kind of life is excessive. Give me only twenty years.” The request was granted.

God created the dog and said that it will guard the house of its master and become his best friend. It will eat the crumbs given by his mater and will live thirty years. The dog responded by saying: “My Lord! Thirty years of this kind of life is excessive. Give me only fifteen.” The request was granted.

God created the monkey and said that it will swing from branch to branch, perform antics and will live for twenty years. But the monkey responded by saying ten years was enough and the request was granted.

Finally, God created man and said to him: “You will be the only rational living being on earth. You will exploit your intelligence and become a master of all animals and dominate the world. You will live for forty five years.”

The greedy man responded by saying: “My Lord! Forty five years is too little! Please add the thirty years refused by the donkey, the fifteen years surrendered by the dog and the ten years declined by the monkey.” The request was granted.

It is said that ever since man lives forty five years as a man, marries and spends thirty years like a donkey working and carrying all his burdens on his back. He lives like a dig for the next fifteen years when his children grow up by taking care of the house and eating what is given to him. The next ten years he spends like a monkey going from house to house of either his son or his daughter and performing antics to amuse his grandchildren.

What is the insight contained in the tale? It is man’s greed that is always behind his ultimate downfall. This is why it is said that love is a quality that belongs to God and does not come easily to human beings. God alone has the capacity for selfless, absolute and genuine love.  

This is because man’s capacity to love is severely marred by his greed. This perhaps explains why our sages tell us to be satisfied with what we receive and not hanker for more and rest in the assurance that our needs will.

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