There was a miserly man whose wife was very generous. But the wife did not have access to her husband’s money. They had so much money that they could easily have helped their village. For months people suffered from drought and famine. Because of the drought there was not enough food and people were dying of starvation. The wife begged the husband to dig some wells so that at least their neighbors could have water. But the husband did not want to spend money to dig wells.
The wife said, “Who knows, by digging in the ground, perhaps even I can find water.”
So she asked their one servant to help her dig a well at a particular place. The wife herself, a respectable lady, joined the servant in digging. Every day they dug, but they found no water. The husband laughed and laughed and said, “Yes, you can dig for a year and there will still be nothing. Only the well of your stupidity is getting deeper.”
One day the servant had a clever idea. He said, “Mother, we are working hard, but your husband is being so unkind and cruel. Let us play a trick.”
“What kind of trick?” the wife asked.
The servant said, “Every morning your husband comes to laugh at us. Let’s put some oil on the ground where we are digging. When he sees the oil, he will get very excited. He will employ many workers and servants, thinking we have found oil here. They will dig and, who knows, perhaps there will be some water here.”
The following day the husband came and saw the oil on the ground. He was excited and said to himself, “I want to take credit for discovering this oil.” Then he said to his wife and servant, “Will you do me a favor today? Can you bring me something from the market? I’ll give you anything you want if you do me this favor.”
They went to the market to buy what he requested. The wife was totally innocent; she had forgotten about the oil trick. in the meantime, the husband brought 20 workers to continue digging at the same place so that he could take credit for discovering oil. They worked for a few hours and finally hit water.
The workers were thrilled to find water, but the owner of the house was disappointed. He said, “Who wants water? I wanted oil so I could sell it and become richer. How can I sell water? I can only give it to my neighbors.”
The wife and the servant came back from the market and were delighted to see the water. The husband said to them, “How can it be? This morning I saw oil on the ground. I hired workers to dig for it. This morning there was oil, but now there’s only water.”
The wife said, “Money and power surrender to the well of wisdom.”
“What are you talking about?” asked the husband.
“This is a result of our servant’s wisdom. We tried so hard to find water but we failed. Then he had a brilliant idea. He knows how miserly you are. He knew that if you saw oil on the ground where we were digging, then you would start digging for oil. God wanted you to help the needy. God didn’t want you to become richer by discovering oil.”
from Garden of the Soul
by Sri Chinmoy
Published by Health Communications