Contentment

Heard this in a public talk, attributed to Ajahn Brahm.

There lived a King who was neither happy nor content despite the luxury. He noticed a servant was happily working in his palace, always smiling and singing. The King asked him why he was so happy. The servant replied that he was nothing but a servant, and his family had a roof over their heads, warm clothes to wear and food to fill their tummies.

The King sought answers from his advisor. The advisor then said that the servant had not been made part of the The 99 Club. The King was puzzled. The advisor suggested that the King placed 99 gold coins in a bag and left it at the servant’s doorstep. The servant was so happy to receive the gold coins and when he counted them, he found that it was only 99 gold coins. He was so adamant to have 100 gold coins instead of just 99 gold coins.

The quest for the 100th gold coin so consumed him that he could not get this off his head. He went to the palace and worked harder than before to earn the elusive 100th gold coin. His happy attitude towards work turned out to be one of serious effort to earn more. He came home exhausted and short-tempered and took it out on his family for not helping him to earn the 100th gold coin. The servant had joined The 99 Club! He was no longer a happy man.

The 99 Club is a name given to those people who have enough to be happy but are never contented, because they are always yearning more to strive for the extra 1 to round it out to 100.

Reflection:

I live in a block of flats and there is a cleaner who takes pride in cleaning the block, clearing our garbage, washing the lifts, removing bulky items from the disposal area, etc. He will always greet me with a smile when he sees me. He enjoyed his work despite how labour-intensive. He is one, I will say, is contented.

On the other hand, residents were pre-occupied with making more money, servicing debts, working hard and more than 8 hours a day at that. Are we in The 99 Club? 

Written on 1/23/2007 9:41 AM

Copyright © 2007, the author known as LKT in Singapore.

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