Saturday, May 30, 2009


An emperor suffered from frequent episodes of acute depression. Gradually the disorder developed into a deadly disease and he became bedridden. The best doctors in the empire were summoned to the palace. They tried their best, but could not cure the malady of melancholia.

A famous physician from a distant country was invited to examine the emperor. He studied the situation and suggested a radical remedy to cure the condition. He said, “Identify a truly happy man and borrow his shirt. Let the emperor wear that shirt. He will be cured.”

Soldiers were sent in different directions to all parts of the empire to find a really happy man. They searched everywhere but there was no one who was fully satisfied and really happy. Everyone had some worries, at least a minor one. The soldiers returned and reported their failure to find a truly happy person.

One captain, while returning from a remote village, heard a soft and sweet whistling sound. It was from a very poor man, walking along a hilly road. He was stopped and questioned by the captain. He agreed that he did not have any worry and was always merry. He works hard in a quarry and earns enough for every day. He could easily meet his humble needs and find some money to help the needy people around him. He used to sleep below a banyan tree near a temple and had no house or family to look after. He had absolutely no worry about his past, no complaint about the present and no anxiety about his future.

The captain was glad that he could find a really merry man at last. The captain disclosed his mission and promised the man a remarkable reward for giving his shirt as a gift to save their emperor.

Hearing the request, the poor man laughed aloud. The captain was confused. The captain repeated his request. The man asked, “How can I give you a shirt, captain? I don’t have even a single shirt and I have never worn a shirt in my life!”

True joy is the result of correct attitude to life. It cannot be earned by amassing or spending money. With money, we may be able to buy a good bed but not sleep; good food, but not appetite; good medicines but not health; good books but not wisdom.

“Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time” {Proverbs 17: 22}.

“Happy are you poor; the kingdom of God is yours” {Luke 6:20}.

St. Paul writes about the hardships undergone by him and his fellow evangelists: “..although saddened, we are always glad; we seem poor, but we make many rich; we seem to have nothing, but we really possess everything” {2Corinthians 6:10}.

St. Paul advises, “May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice!” {Philippians 4: 4}.

This is story No. 141 in this site. Please click ‘older posts’ at bottom of page to read previous stories in this site.

By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.

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