The Woodcutter and the Sage
The following story, as told by the enlightened mystic Osho, talks about wealth.
“An old man, a woodcutter, was so old, but still he had to go to chop wood in the forest and bring it back. He was just able to afford food one time a day, and he was in his old age. And when the woodcutter used to go in the forest, a Sufi mystic was always sitting on the way, under a tree, the same tree. He always used to touch the feet of the mystic, and the mystic used to laugh.
Finally, one day he could not contain his curiosity. He said, "I touch your feet twice every day, going into the forest and coming back from the forest. And it is strange, you always laugh — Why? I am a poor man, uneducated, but this much I can understand: I am paying respect to you, and you are laughing. This does not seem to be appropriate."
The old man said, "I'm laughing because you are an idiot. Where you have been chopping wood, just a little ahead there is a copper mine. And with the same effort that you make in one day to get enough wood for your one meal, with the same effort you can get enough copper for two meals every day for seven days. Six days you can rest; one day you can work. I have been laughing because it is strange that a man has been coming this way his whole life and he never goes a little more. He always gets stuck with the same trees. And just ahead of those trees…"
The next day the man went a little ahead and he was surprised. He was very happy. He came and he touched the feet of the master and said, "I am sorry that I could not understand your laughter."
Then he used to come only once a week. But the master started laughing again. So he said, "What is the matter, why have you started laughing again?"
The master said, "You seem to be such a sticking guy. Just ahead of that mine there is a silver mine. Can't you imagine anything? Can't you see that there is so much ahead?" He said, "I never thought about it. But you are strange also. You know — why don't you tell me?" And the master said, "There are a few things one should find for oneself; that helps your intelligence to grow. I had to say because my time is finished. And I cannot just wait anymore for you to discover. So just today go a little further and find a silver mine."
He found a silver mine. Now it was needed only to come once a month. But he got stuck there. And the master said, "I have never seen such a fellow. Don't you know that there exists gold too?"
He said, "Where?" "Just a little ahead. And it seems that unless you are forced, you will not move," said the master.
That day he went a little ahead and found a big gold mine. He said, "My God, my whole life I could have carried so much gold I would have become almost a king! And that mystic is such a strange fellow. He knows everything and he never said anything to me." But that day he thought "Now I have to make one effort on my own. Perhaps there is something more ahead."
And there was. There was a diamond mine. He said, "My God! So many diamonds. And that mystic knows everything? And he thinks I am an idiot! Now I think he is an idiot. He knows, and he goes on sitting under the tree doing nothing, just waiting for people to give something to him. And his disciples beg and bring food to him, and he knows all this. And he thinks that I'm the idiot. Today I am going to tell him, `You are an idiot. What are you doing sitting here, knowing all that perfectly well. I am an ignorant man and I don't know what is ahead, but you know.'"
So he came back. With great courage he showed the diamonds and the mystic laughed. He said, "That's good. But don't get stuck." He said, "But what can be ahead of it?" The mystic said, "Ahead of it? I am; otherwise why am I sitting here? I have something more valuable than diamonds. So when you are finished with your diamonds you come and sit under my feet. It is my last days and I would like to share with you something more than diamonds. But you had to pass through these stages; otherwise you would not have understood that this poor fellow, who depends on people's food, who is just a beggar, can have something inside him which is far more valuable than the whole diamond mine."
The old woodcutter dropped the diamonds there and he said, "I am finished. If that is the case then I am not going to leave you." The old man said, "You can sit also. There is enough space under the tree. And it is beautiful and very shadowy. And my people bring food enough, so it will be enough for both."
The woodcutter said… he was an ignorant man, not a thinker, not a philosopher, not religious; he has never thought much, he has never dreamt; if he was brought to a psychoanalyst, the psychoanalyst will refuse him because he will not be cooperating. If he will ask him, "Tell me about your dreams," he will say, "I don't have any dreams." Then the psychoanalyst cannot do anything. Without dreams he cannot help anybody.
He sat by the side of the saint. And as the night grew deeper, the silence and everything became quiet and calm. He also became quiet and calm and suddenly, he started feeling the vibration of the mysterious man. He could not see anything, but his heart was dancing. He could not say anything, but his whole being was for the first time in a state of joy. He has never known anything except misery, poverty and suffering. Early in the morning, before he could even say thanks to the saint, the saint died. But he had left behind him another saint. When the followers of the old saint came they could not believe. The old man is dead but a new fellow is sitting by his side with the same vibe.
Those followers have tasted the joy and the peace of the old man. That's why they used to come from a faraway town to bring his food. Just to be with him for a few minutes was enough. It kept them running twenty-four hours, celebrating life. They could not believe that the old man has played such a game with them. He is gone but he has left a representative. They offered his food to the woodcutter and the woodcutter became the saint. Nothing was said, nobody declared that he was the successor, but he proved to be a far greater saint, because he was an ignorant man, and suddenly silence turned all his ignorance into innocence.”
Osho - The Invitation, Chapter #13
27 August 1987, Chuang Tzu Auditorium, Pune, India