You stretch your hand to help, they want your whole arm
tzehrkut goudahss oknoutioun, tevut guh bahhahnchen
Trapping a monkey
gahbeekuh dzoughahgohv guh puhrnehn
Trapping a monkey without injuring it is an art of deception. Hunters study the habits and disposition of monkeys in order to
find their weaknesses or foibles. Monkeys are curious and easily attached to an object of interest. A large jar with a narrow mouth is sunk in the ground. It is purposely filled with grains. When the monkey discovers the jar, it tries to get the grains by squeezing its paw in the jar and seizing the grains. Once it closes its fist on the grains, the monkey cannot withdraw its paw from the jar because of the tightness of the jar’s mouth. It believes it is caught. If he opens his hand, he can withdraw it. But, due to attachment to holding the grains, he refuses to let go.
The example of the monkey is also pertinent to mankind. Due to attachment to something material and temporary, a person can believe it to be true that is not at all true and thus become victimized by his own illusion. Illusion and ignorance are self-imposed states of mind due to becoming blinded by false attachment that can result in lust, anger and greed.
ahkahoutioun – greed
There was and there wasn’t a proud king whose kingdom was prosperous. He had a powerful army and all his enemies feared him. He exacted taxes and tribute with impunity and filled the coffers of the kingdom with vast riches.He employed learned priests to perform religious rituals so that he could cull favors from God for his continued success. His passion for accumulation of power, prestige and possessions eventually corrupted his mind with obsessive feelings of wanting to overlord everyone and everything. Blinded by such lust and pride, he inappropriately offended people whenever they expressed the slightest hesitation to satisfy his lust for power and wealth.
It is said in ancient texts of wisdom that there are three gates leading to hell – lust, anger and greed. A sane person should give these three up because they lead to the degradation of the soul. One may try to satisfy his lust, and when he cannot, anger and greed arise. The laws of society and especially of the holy scriptures act to protect people from such degrading influences. They regulate social interaction so that lust, and greed do not become the norm of behavior. However, when a person’s mind is overwhelmed by lusty thoughts, the tendency is to become reckless and whimsical in following the laws of society and holy scripture. It said in the ancient wisdom that a person who disregards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination of life.
Everyone is aware of the regulations of good human behavior and they are expected to follow them. A person who knowingly violates these rules acts under the influence of lust, anger and greed. He knows that such things are forbidden, but still he acts. This is called whimsical behavior. Unless this whimsical behavior is corrected by the remedial advise of saintly persons, such persons will ruin the opportunity afforded by the human form of life to reach the potential of self-realization and evolve to the stage of love of God.
Human life is meant for understanding the purpose of existence in this world by purifying oneself of all degrading attitudes and behavior. This is done by following the laws of society and scripture and thus one has the freedom to attain real happiness and love.
The arrogant king’s behavior became unbearable for his people who he continually oppressed to satisfy his whims. There was a saint who lived in the kingdom. He could see the suffering of the people due to the king’s greed. He decided to undue the veil of illusion that was shrouding the king’s intelligence. Usually, people who are very attached to their material possessions have a deep-seated anxiety about losing what they have accumulated in life. If they do lose their cherished possessions, the effect is devastating and can have various effects. Some people will commit suicide and others will go crazy with depression and frustration. Yet, there are others who become very sober and realize they were living in a fool’s paradise where they were obsessed with temporary things that can be lost at any time. The saint devised a plan that would gently bring the king to his senses.
Once a month the king would give a pittance of charity to the poor as a gesture of his magnanimity. This was to counteract his image as a ruthless tyrant whose only preoccupation was to fleece the productive members of his kingdom. The saint stood in line with the poor supplicants. When his turn came to ask for the king’s modest offering, he extended his small begging bowl and remained silent. The king looked at him and smiled and placed some coins in his bowl. He expected the beggar to move along. However, the saint began to shake the bowl as if there was nothing in it. Strangely, the coins disappeared from the bowl and it was empty. The king noticed it and and again placed some coins in it. The same thing happened again. This time the king was perplexed. He took the bowl in his own hands and filled it to the brim with coins. He was shocked to see it immediately empty. He looked at the bowl by turning it upside down and up again.
Then he addressed the saint, “What kind of trick is this. Are you trying to bewitch me?” The saint looked sternly at the king and said, “I am a poor man who has approached you for alms. Why can’t you satisfy me with a pittance of your great wealth?” The king felt his words were a challenge to him. He declared, “I am the richest and most powerful king in the world. You dare to say I cannot satisfy a poor man by filling his wretched little begging bowl!” He ordered his treasurer to bring a large sack of heavy gold coins and continually fill the bowl until it was full.
The treasurer brought a laden cart of gold coins and began to fill the little bowl. By this time a large crowd of courtiers and townsfolk had gathered to see the spectacle. As the bowl filled, it also emptied just as quick until the gold in the cart completely disappeared. The passionate nature of the king overwhelmed him and he ordered precious jewels and other heavy things brought from the treasury to fill the bowl. Again the same thing happened and everyone was amazed at the magical bowl of the saint. The king became fearful and humbled by the solemn saint. He did not want to insult him or in any way hurt the saint who was possessed of some supernatural powers. In a humble gesture, he bowed to the saint and asked him about the mystery of the bowl.
The saint smiled and said, “The little bowl represents your infinite greed that no amount of wealth will ever satisfy.” The power of the saint’s words and its deep meaning humbled the king even more. He supplicated the saint to enlighten him by what means he could to overcome his greed.
The saint spoke the following words of wisdom. “Greed is the mother of sin. It can cause hatred and anger, which if unchecked, can drive one to crime. Urged by greed even a man of learning and knowledge can kill his closest relative, his dearest friend or his kindest mentor. Greed is a road to hell.”
He continued, “There were once four thieves who had just stolen a large amount of money.They were jolly as if intoxicated by their success. They planned their heist and worked long hours to execute their plan. Now that they achieved their goal, they were hungry and wanted to celebrate. The leader of the thieves sent two of his men to fetch food and drink for their celebration. While the two men went to shop, the chief and the remaining thief discussed how much more they could have if they murdered the other two cohorts. Greed is the mother of sin.
While doing the shopping the other thieves made plans to kill their two partners so that they could each have a greater share of the stolen money. They decided to mix poison in the food they purchased.
When the two thieves returned with the food, they prepared a table for the feast. They invited the chief and his assistant to dine and drink in celebration. Suddenly the chief and the assistant attacked the other two with weapons and murdered them summarily. Elated by their treachery, the two murderer thieves sat down to eat. They both died by eating the poisoned food.”
The saint concluded, “Oh king, you are obsessed by your greed for wealth and power. You don’t care for the welfare of your subjects because you are blinded by your unbounded greed. The best remedy for such a sick mentality is association with the virtuous who can teach you to find contentment by discovering presence of God within you. The person who dedicates himself to serving the Divine attains steady peace because he offers the results of all his activities to God. However, one who is greedy for the fruits of his labor, and ignores the Divine, becomes entangled.”
If you desire to gain the world, then be friendly to all, be kind, be generous and sweet-spoken. Use your wealth for charity, your learning for good deeds, your thoughts for ascertaining God, your words for uplifting others. Learn contentment with what God gives you and be satisfied with the minimum so that you use the maximum to serve God and humanity. Do not try to take take from others to satisfy your lust for power and money. Everything you are not destined to have will be lost in an instant and this will cause untold misery. Know that there is no disease greater than greed, no virtue greater than kindness.”
The king was thrilled by the powerful words of the saint. He bowed his head in humility at the feet of the saint and begged for forgiveness. The saint said, “A man is judged by four tests: his manners, qualities, actions and generosity. Oh king, use your wealth and power to uplift your people to spiritual knowledge and help them achieve the goal of life, self-realization and love of God. Become greedy to attain the mercy of God and his saints.”
“Rise above the dualities that arise from doubts, engage your mind within to revive your lost relationship with God, stay busy working for the welfare of all living beings, stay free from all sins and thus achieve liberation by developing divine love for God and share it with all others.”
Half the face of a beggar is shamed, but, for a man who refuses to give in charity, his whole face
ouzogheen mee yehrehsuhn eh sehv, chee duhvogheen yehrgoussuh
His stomach is full, but his eyes remain famished
pohruh lee, ahckuh ahnohtee
The Pot of Gold – Hohvhaness Toumanian
The Pot of Gold
I heard from our elders, they in turn from their fathers, they in turn from their elders, that once upon a time there was a poor farmer who had a rented plot of land and a yoke for one bull. During the harsh winter the farmer’s bulls died. In the early spring when it was time to begin to plow and clear the fields, the farmer did not have any bulls to work the land. He rented the land to a neighbor to farm.
While the neighbor tilled the field, his hoe hit an object. He thought it was a big rock. When he unearthed it, he saw a clay water jug full of gold coins. He tied his bulls and ran to the village to his neighbor who rented him the land.
“Hey brother, may the sunlight brighten your eyes (ahchkut louyee), I just unearthed this pot full of gold on your land. Take it, it belongs to you.”
“No way, brother, it does not belong to me,” said the farmer to his renter.
“You paid me rent for the land, you plowed the ground. Whatever comes out of the land belongs to you. If it is gold, so be it, it belongs to you.”
They began to argue back and forth. The renter said, “It is yours brother,” and the farmer said, “No, it is yours.” They argued more and more until they came to blows. Finally, they went before the king with their mutual differences of opinion. Then the king heard about the pot of gold, his eyes bulged from their sockets with greed. He spoke.
“It does not belong either of you. The pot of gold came out of the plot of land that belongs to me. It’s mine!” The king proceeded with his guards to the farmer’s place to fetch the pot of gold for himself. When the king opened the lid of the pot, he was shocked to find that instead of gold, the pot was brimming with poisonous snakes!
The king became incensed with rage and rushed back to his palace. He ordered his men to severely punish these country bumpkins for daring to cheat him.
“May the king live long, we beg to differ,” said the two hapless prisoners. “Why are you going to execute us. There is some mistake. Maybe you did not look into the pot correctly. There are not any snakes. It is full of precious gold, so much gold, Sire.”
The king sent a group of his men to examine the pot again. When the men returned, they affirmed that the pot was full of gold.
“My God,” said the king is a burst of amazement. “I must not have looked carefully into the pot or, maybe, I looked into the wrong pot.” The king darted out again to see the pot of gold. He opened the lid and again he was shocked to find the pot full of poisonous snakes.
“What kind of magic is this? What does it mean? I don’t understand,” said the king.
He issued a royal order that all the sages and wise men in his kingdom come immediately to his palace for a consultation. He addressed them thus, “Please explain to me my dear wise men the origin and meaning of this strange event. These farmers unearthed a pot full of gold. When I went to examine it, I saw the same pot full of dangerous snakes. When they look, they see only precious gold. What does this mean?”
The wise men addressed the king, “If the honored king does not get upset, we can explain the meaning. The pot of gold was a gift sent to the poor farmers for their noble and honest work. When they looked into the pot, they saw their rightful reward of precious gold. But, when you looked into the pot, you had intent to usurp the fortune belonging to others. Because of that illicit desire, you saw dangerous snakes instead of gold.”
The king was shocked. He was speechless. He composed himself and spoke to the wise men: “I accept. But you must still determine which one of these two farmers owns the pot of gold.”
The farmer who unearthed the pot said, “It belongs to my neighbor who rented the plot to me.”
“It’s not true,” said the farmer who rented the plot. “It belongs to my friend the renter.” The two farmers began to argue again.
“Stop this arguing right now,” said the wise men. “Now tell us. Do you have children? If so, tell us whether they are girls or boys and what are their ages?”
It turned out that one farmer had a boy and the other a girl and both children were of marriageable age. The wise men decided that the one farmer’s son and the other’s daughter should get married. The pot of gold that was unearthed should be gifted to the newly married couple. The two honest farmers agreed.
Eight days and eight nights the humble villagers celebrated the marriage of the farmer’s children. The pot of gold that was unearthed and later revealed to be a gift to them in recognition of their noble and honest work throughout their lives was offered to their children. Blessing and goodness were with the humble, honest people; bad behavior and greediness with the king.
The killer of the soul – hohkeyeen uhspahnnogh
Once upon a time there were three sisters in a hilly land. While hiking in the nearby hills, they discovered a large kettle full of gold coins. The kettle was so large that it had seven handles and needed seven men to carry it.
The sisters screamed, “The killer of the soul. Run for your lives.” They ran as fast as they could away from the kettle.
There was a group of six robbers who saw the sisters running and screaming. They stopped them and asked, “Why are you running? What is the matter? Why are you so scared?”
“We are running away from the killer of the soul.”
“What is a killer of the soul? Show us this monster,” said the robbers.
The sisters went with the robbers. They showed them the kettle. “This is the killer of the soul,” they said and began to run away.
The robbers were amused by the three naive sisters. They spoke to one another about the foolishness of the sisters. “Imagine calling gold the killer of the soul!”
The robbers saw this golden opportunity as the change of destiny for them. For many weeks they were being pursued by the police. In fact, they were very hungry because they had not robbed anyone for weeks. They discussed their change of destiny. One robber suggested, “Friends, we have not eaten properly for weeks. Three of us should go to the nearest town and bring back some food. The other three should stay here and guard the kettle of gold.” Three of the robbers went to town and the others kept watch.
The guardian robbers devised a plan, “Dividing the gold three ways will be much more beneficial than six ways.,” said one robber. “What do you mean,” said the second. “He wants to say that we should kill our three brothers when they come back with the food and take the gold for ourselves,” said the third. “We’ll hide behind that big rock overlooking the kettle. When they come back, we’ll stone them to death with big stones from above,” said the first robber. They agreed to this sinister plan and began to collect big rocks to kill their comrades.
The three robbers that went to fetch food in the nearest town similarly devised a plan to eliminate the other three who stayed back with the kettle of gold. They purchased a big feast and mixed poison with it so that their unwitting friends would die after eating it. They returned to the kettle of gold with the large quantity of poisoned food. The three robbers who stayed behind were waiting to stone them to death .
When the three arrived from the town, they did not see their friends guarding the kettle. They set the food near the kettle and before they could catch their breath, the other three robbers began to throw stones at them from above. “Stop, stop, spare us,” they cried. But they were quickly injured and fell to the ground with serious wounds. The stoning continued until all three were dead.
The three treacherous robbers who stoned their friends were satisfied that their plan worked. They had a ravenous hunger. They joyfully partook of the sumptuous dinner without realizing their dead friends’ vile trap. In a short while, all three began to choke and bloat with pain. They foamed at the mouth, choked and died on the spot. The kettle of gold remained untouched.
After some time, the three sisters came back to the same place where they had discovered the kettle of gold. They saw the six robbers dead and the kettle of gold in their midst.
The horrified sister looked at each other and exclaimed, “We tried to warn them that the kettle of gold is the killer of the soul, but they did not believe us. May God keep such horrors far from us,”
(ahsduhvahdz mezmeh hehrou baheh ays bes tuhspaghoutioun), they cried and ran as fast as they could away from the kettle of gold.
Eyes like an empty hole and an open mouth
Achkuh dzahg, perana patz
Eyes like an empty hole (the implication is greedy eyes) and mouth open (meaning an insatiable appetite). When someone is very greedy and their avariciousness is never satiated, they are described as achkuh dzahg, perana patz.
There is a true story that happened in Azerbaijan. A young man was seriously injured in a car crash and he was rushed to a hospital clinic. In Azerbaijan, the doctors can refuse to treat a patient unless they are first remunerated for their services. A doctor was summoned and she refused to see the patient. She insisted that the relatives of the injured boy arrange payment for her services. After an hour, the doctor was again summoned because the condition of the injured boy deteriorated. She again asked if the relatives were contacted. The answer was given that the relatives could not be located. The doctor again refused to see the patient. After some time the doctor was called because the patient seemed to be dead. When she examined the dead boy she realized that it was her own son.