There is a beautiful story that explains greed. A rich man and his wife went to bed really late at night. The wife was telling the husband that a poor man and his wife lived in a small cottage next door. She said, “The poor couple are so happy. The husband goes to work and the wife takes care of the family things, they take their food together, and they joyfully go to sleep early.” The husband didn’t say anything.

She then complained, “In comparison, we go to bed so late, and if there is a little noise we wake up.” The husband said to her, “Okay, you take rest, and I’ll join you soon.” Before the husband went to bed, he took out 99 coins from his safe and dropped it into the house of the poor man.

The next morning, the poor man’s wife got up and cleaned the house. While she was sweeping, she noticed a heavy bag. She called her husband and they sat down and opened the bag and saw the gold coins. The husband counted and there were 99. He counted them three times and instead of being happy, he was sad it was not 100. As the wife put the coins in a bag inside the cupboard, the husband wondered how to make it 100. He decided that he had to earn more and also spend less, because in economics saving is the difference between income and expenditure. He then began working longer to get more money. After a while, the wife was unhappy. “You are working more, but you are buying less groceries.” Now there was conflict in the family and their peace was lost. One day the rich man’s wife heard what was happening next door and she said to her husband, “They were so happy, and now they are so unhappy.” The husband replied, “It is known as Disease 99.” He then told her about the 99 coins. This is the human mind; we want more, but we don’t know why.

Excerpt from a transcript of Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji speaking at the 2014 Sydney Residential Retreat.

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