of death and insult, that are rained down on them by all peoples. This shows that greed is a source of humiliation and loss. There are in addition so many instances of a greedy person being exposed to loss that “the greedy is subject to disappointment and loss” has become a universally accepted truth. This being the case, if you love wealth, seek it not with greed but with contentment, so that you may have it in abundance.
The content and the greedy are like two men who enter the audience-hall of a great personage. One of them says to himself: “It is enough that he should admit me so that I can escape from the cold outside. Even if he motions me to sit in the lowest position, I will count it as a kindness.”
The second man says arrogantly, as if he had some right in the matter and everyone were obliged to respect him: “I should be assigned the highest position.” He enters with greed and fixes his gaze on the highest positions, wishing to advance toward them. But the master of the audience-hall turns him back and seats him in a lower position. Instead of thanking him as he should, he is angered against him in his heart and criticizes him. The lord of the palace will be offended by him.
The first man enters most humbly and wishes to sit in the lowest position. His modesty pleases the lord of the audience-hall, and he invites him to sit in a higher position. His gratitude increases, and his thankfulness is augmented.
Now this world is like an audience-hall of the Most Merciful One. The surface of the globe is like a banqueting spread laid out by His mercy. The differing degrees of sustenance and grades of bounty correspond to the seating positions in the audience-hall.
Furthermore, even in the minutest of affairs everyone can experience the evil effects of greed. For example, everyone knows in his heart that when two beggars request something, he will be offended by the one who greedily importunes him, and refuse his request; whereas he will take pity on the peaceable one and give him what he asks.
Or to give another example, if you are unable to fall asleep at night and wish to do so, you may succeed if you remain detached. But if you desire sleep greedily, and say: “Let me sleep, let me sleep,” then sleep will quit you entirely.
Yet another example is this, that if you greedily await the arrival of someone for some important purpose and continually say: “He still hasn’t come,” ultimately you will lose patience and get up and leave. But one minute later the person will come, and your purpose will be frustrated.
The reason for all this is as follows. The production of a loaf of bread requires a field to be cultivated and harvested, the grain to be taken to a