Virtue of the Week: Moderation

the covetous neighborThe Covetous Neighbor ( A lack of moderation)

Do we covet what our neighbors have?

There was a poor and lonely man who had but a few melon seeds and grains of corn which he planted; tenderly did he care for them, as the garden would furnish his only means of a living. And it came to pass that the melons and corn grew luxuriantly, and the apes and the monkeys from the neighboring wilderness, seeing them, came daily to eat of them, and, as they talked of the owner of the garden, wondered just what manner of man he might be that he permitted them unmolested to eat of his melons. But the poor man, through his sufferings, had much merit, and charitably and willingly shared his abundant fruit with them. One day the man lay down in the garden to rest. As the monkeys and apes drew near, seeing him so still, his scarf lying about his head, one of the monkeys cried out, “He is already dead! Lo, these many days have we eaten of his fruit, therefore it is but just that we should bury him in one of our honored secret places in the jungle.” Lifting the man, they carried him until they came to their secret hidden caves, when one of the monkeys said, “Let us take him to the cave of silver.” Another said, “No, the cave of gold would be better.” “Go to the cave of gold,” commanded the head monkey. There they carried him and laid him to rest. The man awoke and finding himself thus alone, the man got up, gathered all the gold he could carry and returned to his old home, and, with the gold thus easily gained, he built a beautiful house.

“How did you, who are but a lowly gardener, gain all this gold?” asked a neighbor, and freely the man told all that had happened to him. “If you did it, I, too, can do it,” said the neighbor, and forthwith, he hastened home, made a garden, and waited for the monkeys to feast in it. All came to pass as the neighbor hoped; when the melons were ripe great numbers of monkeys and apes came to the garden and feasted. And one day, they found the owner lying asleep in the garden. Prompted by gratitude, the monkeys made ready to bury him, and while carrying him to the place of burial, they came to the place of the cave of gold and the cave of silver. Here they disputed as to whether they should place the man in the cave of silver, or the cave of gold. Meanwhile, the man was thinking, “I’ll gather gold all day. When I have more than I can carry in my arms, I’ll draw some behind me in a basket I can readily make from bamboo,” and, when the head monkey finally said, “Put him in the cave of silver,” the man jumped up and unguardedly cried out, “No, put me in the cave of gold,” as he wanted no less than his neighbor had.

Frightened, the monkeys dropped the man and ran back into the jungle. The man scratched and bleeding, crept painfully home with nothing to show for his lack of moderation.


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