The sage and the king

It's a travel day for me, so here's another story I told recently. Many of these come from Anthony de Mello, perhaps this one as well. They're kind of blending at this stage. Which I think is fine because they're stories and they're meant to be retold.

There was a wise man - a sage, a sadhu - who was walking in the capital city of a small but happy kingdom and he found a coin on the street. Since he was very wise and had taken a vow of poverty, he decided he would give the coin to someone who needed it more. And so he spent the rest of the day walking through the city and talking to people, be found they were all very satisfied and had all they needed. So he had his evening meal and he went to sleep. 

The next morning he was roused by a marauding horde. Soldiers were conquering the city. Houses were burning and there were screams and the stench of death was in the air. And as he looked, he saw in the midst of the throng the conquering king, his arms bloody up to the elbows. And the king caught his eye and he said: "Sage! We have captured this entire kingdom, from coast to coast, and now we've conquered the capital city. See how mighty we are! Give us your blessings, wise man!" 

And the wise man reached into his pocket, took out the coin and said: "Here, I think you need this more than me."

So now there are two endings. In one, the king is stopped in his tracks, stricken at the truth. And he withdraws his army from the city. This is, in my view, the more satisfactory but also unrealistic ending. We all know what happens when we accuse people of greed - they get angry. And so the other ending is that the king chops off the sage's head and is done with it. Which is just as well, because homelessness is a real scourge on that kingdom I've heard (#nimby).

This story was part of my talk at Techsylvania, with the point that founding a company from a place of "more, more" is... unhelpful. So what are better places to found from? That's for tomorrow.