The poor are always with us

Another retold tale.

A proud and successful son visited his father-a simple man who lived in the country in a very modest farm. The son wanted to show his father how much he had achieved, and so he persuaded the father to return with him to the city and stay with him for awhile.

>From time to time, the son would speak about his possessions to his father and point out their values. And, indeed, the son had many fine things: lots of food, a dog with a pedigree, a big house, garden, and yard with a strong fence around it, a marble patio, a swimming pool with ornate lanterns to light it, and his many servants.

One day, the son could not help but notice that his father was melancholy, and asked, “Father, why so sad? Here we have so much?”

The father replied, “I miss my farm. I think it’s time to go back.”

“But why? Here you have everything.”

“No, my son, here I am always seeing how poor you are.”

“What? This place is much better than your farm!”

“No, my son. Here you have a dog, but I have four at home. Here you have a swimming pool, but my creek is clean, warm, and fresh all summer and has many wonderful pools, and all of them are lit by the stars and moon at night. Here you have walls to protect you, but all around my farm I have my friends to look out for me. Here your patio reaches a few feet, but my backyard seems to go to the horizon. Your large yard is small compared to my fields. Here you buy food, but there I grow it. Here you have servants, but there I am able to serve. You are simply too poor for me to live with you.”

Ask yourself,Do I buy this? Am I more like the father or the son? Was the father really much richer than his son?

When I consider how two persons can view the same things as having opposite values, does this give me a sense of freedom in choosing my own values, because “everything’s relative,” or do I feel I should “dig deeper” to find values that are more universal?

What would a universal value be to me? What do I value in the exact same way as everyone else? Anything? Is there anything with an absolute value that all persons share?

How have my values evolved since early childhood? Are my feelings about life, death, happiness, wealth, spirituality, love, community, etc. “finally locked in,” or are they all going to change as time passes?

Do MOST persons on earth place identical value on “staying alive” or other “deep values?” Is there any way to tell if two persons sharing the same apple are getting the same (or even nearly so) amount of pleasure from it? How are my values quantified?

If the world’s largest diamond is placed into my hand while I am sleeping, does my state of consciousness set a limitation on how much value it? Are all values entirely dependent upon my ability to be conscious? Can I wake up in the morning and say, “Wow, I, for hours, I held a fabulous gem in my hand-I’m so lucky?”

When I am asleep and someone touches my nose (and scientists assure us that a signal is sent to the brain from the nose’s receptors-even in deep sleep) do “I” have that experience? Is my “soul” a gem in the hand of a sleeping person? What precious aspects of life have I traded for a marble patio? When I held my “youth” in “my hands,” was it a fabulous gem mostly snored about? How would I go home again?

Is it true that my mind changes constantly, but yet “the real me” persists as the unifying thread that connects all my experiences?

If all memory of a particular experience of mine is entirely “erased” or “irretrievably forgotten,” then did that experience ever happen to “who I am now” or not? What is my definition of “me,” if “I” am not always “on duty” for my experiences?

Is it possible that ALL THIS is happening to one single awareness that is wearing all the world’s “masks” (individual nervous systems?) How would I know if that were true or not? If I somehow were “having” all the experiences of the world, then what is this “me thing” that is NOT having those experiences? Can I give up being this “limited me?” Do I have to?

What would I believe if I believed that I could believe anything?