Beggar Confused When Emperor Asks for Some Rice, but Then Discovers a ‘Gift’ in His Bowl

By Li Yen, Epoch Times
February 14, 2019 Updated: August 10, 2019

Words of Wisdom aims to highlight important morals, which we feel our readers will benefit from reading. We hope you enjoy this fable.

This story perfectly portrays the moral of “The heart that gives, gathers”—a famous quote from the 6th-century BC Chinese text of Tao Te Ching, authored by the ancient philosopher and sage Lao Tsu.

Once upon a time, there lived a beggar who, day after day, sat in the dusty streets to ask for alms and rice from passersby. He used the begged coppers to buy the firewood to cook himself a meal.

During the night, he covered himself with a few rags and slept under the moon. Life on the streets was tough, but as years went by, he was accustomed to this way of living.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Fresnel

One day, however, the beggar clung to a glimmer of hope when he heard the Emperor was soon visiting the town.

“The Emperor will certainly bestow on me a generous gift seeing the pitiful state I am in. Surely, this richest of all men will sympathize a lowly beggar,” he thought.

So, the beggar assembled his belongings and seated himself along the route the Emperor would be traveling the night before. He sat there watching the sunrise and waiting for the procession to pass.

Illustration – Shutterstock | kirill_makarov

Finally, around midday, the Royal Caravan arrived, and it came to a halt beside him.

The beggar was only expecting a little recognition and a gift from the Emperor’s servants. He was astounded that the cavalcade would actually stop right in front of him.

Even more unbelievable, the Emperor approached the beggar, shaking his hand, holding him by the shoulder, and looking into his eyes. He asked, “Tell me, kind sir, might you have a little gift of rice for me?”

For a moment, the beggar was confused by the great ruler’s strange request.

Illustration – Pixabay | Pezibear

The Emperor took out his rice bowl, urging, “Can you spare some grains of rice?”

The beggar couldn’t believe the rich ruler, who had everything, was asking a poor man like him for some grains of rice. There was no way he could deny the Emperor’s request. Thus, he indignantly took the Emperor’s bowl and dropped five grains of rice into it before reluctantly handing it back to the ruler.

Having his request fulfilled, the Emperor’s eyes shone. He thanked the beggar profusely, shook his hand again, and he resumed his journey.

Bewildered, disgruntled, and hurt, the tired beggar sadly watched the Royal Caravan vanish into the dust, leaving him alone once again in his home on the streets.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Maksim Shmeljov

That night, while the beggar was cleaning his rice for dinner, he spotted something shimmering in the bowl. Upon a closer look, he was thrilled to pieces.

He dug the tiny item out as quickly as he could and held it up under the moonlight. It was a gold nugget! This was enough to buy him months off the street.

He quickly sifted through the rice to search for more gold nuggets. In the end, he found one … two … three … four more pieces!

Illustration – Pixabay | PIX1861

As the beggar looked at the small fortune in his rice bowl, he realized the five nuggets were for the five grains of rice he had gifted the Emperor.

This beautiful tale serves to remind us that “The heart that gives, gathers,” and “It is in giving that we receive.”

Illustration – Shutterstock | Suzanne Tucker

Life is like an echo. What goes around comes around. When we give love, we’ll be loved back. And the more we give, the more we’ll receive. Hence, give and life will come back to you tenfold!

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