A small story from Anthony de Mello’s book “Songbird”.


The industrialist was horrified to find the fisherman lying beside his boat, smoking a pipe.

“Why aren’t you out fishing?” said the industrialist.

“Because I have caught enough fish for the day.”

“Why don’t you catch some more?”

“What would I do with it?”

“Earn more money. Then you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. That would bring you money to buy nylon nets, so more fish, more money. Soon you would have enough to buy two boats… even a fleet of boots. Then you could be rich like me.”

“What would I do then?”

“Then you could really enjoy life.”

“What do you think I am doing now?”

A Point to Ponder: 

Which would you rather have: a fortune or a capacity for enjoyment? 

May be this story will help you make the choice…


The Emperor of China sent ambassadors to a hermit living in the northern mountains. They were to invite him to become Prime Minister of the Kingdom.

After many days of travel the ambassadors arrived. The hermitage was empty! But nearby in the middle of a river was a half-naked man, seated on a rock, fishing with a line. Could this be the man the Emperor thought so highly of? Enquires at the village proved it was. So they returned to the river bank and, as respectfully as they could, attempted to attract the fisherman’s attention.

The hermit waded through the river and stood before the messengers barefoot, arms akimbo.

“What is it you want?”

“Honoured sir. His Majesty the Emperor of China, having heard of your wisdom and your holiness has sent us with these gifts. He invites you to accept the post of Prime Minister of the Realm.”

“Prime Minister of the Realm?”

“Yes, respected Sir.”


“Yes, respected sir.”

“Is His Majesty out of his mind?” said the hermit as he roared with uncontrollable laughter to the discomfiture of the ambassadors.

When he was able to control himself, the her-mit said, “Tell me—is it true that mounted over the main altar of the Emperor’s chapel is a stuffed turtle whose shell is encrusted with sparkling diamonds?”

“It is, venerable sir.”

“And is it true that once a day the Emperor and his household gather to do homage to this diamond-decorated turtle?”

“It is, sir.”

“Now take this turtle here, wagging his tail in the muck. Do you think this little fellow would change places with the turtle in the palace?”

“No, he would not.”

“Then go tell the Emperor that neither would I. For no one can be alive on a pedestal.”

Contentment comes from the heart. It is not about how much you “have”, it’s rather about how much you “feel” about what you have. 

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Divya Pai

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