Once upon a time there was a rich old man who dreamt of having more sparkling jewels and glittering gold than anyone in the kingdom. He had constructed a cellar underneath his home with huge chests filled with gold coins and gems collected through much shrewd business.
One morning he was about the village square when he heard some merchants talk about a young and brilliant mathematician whose fame was sweeping the region.
“This youth is gifted with extraordinary ability. He can multiply anyone’s wealth. It’s rumoured the king has invited him to the palace to advise on treasury matters.”
The old man was dazzled by the gossip. His clever mind began hatching plans as he walked home and in the matter of a few days, the old man had the bright mathematician sitting his house talking over a draught.
“I have been working on a new calculation that works wonders. It is not perfect yet, but it seems to increase yield twenty times at least,” said the young man.
The old man needed to hear nothing more.
“I am leaving for a faraway town tomorrow morning and will return after ten days. During that time, you will employ your excellent ways to grow my treasure. I will reward you amply,” he said.
Ten days passed easily enough and the old man was home again. In great excitement he shuffled down the stone steps to the cellar and turned the key in the heavy oak door. What was this! He was horrified to see the room empty of all caskets and chests. There was not a glimmer of gold anywhere. Furious, he called for the mathematician.
“No reason to be alarmed sir,” reassured the young man. “I studied a hundred success cases where I found rich men make maximum benefit when they give all his wealth away to others. So I have done this for you.”
The old man was livid. Unperturbed, his guest continued, “There’s a limit to how much one man can benefit himself but with the help of many people he can expand his benefit unimaginably. My mathematical conclusion is that helping others is the best way to get more and more people to benefit us.”
“Ridiculous nonsense,” shouted the old man. “I have lost everything I ever worked for.” Incensed and feeling desperate, he ran out of the house wandering wildly onto the road.
“Dear sir, whatever is the matter?”
“Are you not well sir, please come to our house and rest.”
A chorus of voices halted the trembling old man who looked around in confusion. With gentle words and concerned faces, neighbours from both sides were gathering around him and beckoning him to their homes. He had never spoken to any of them and did not know their names. Bewildered by his miserable affairs, he allowed himself to be led to a small cottage to the right.
His visit to the cottage and what followed thereafter transformed the old man beyond his imagination. The family showered him with love and appreciation – they served him a hearty meal, offered him gifts and the children performed songs for him. The old man felt his burdened heart become light and warm.
The next day was the same. Everywhere he went in town, the old man received warm handshakes, sweet words and invitations for dinners, friendship and functions. The chief townsmen also approached him to ask if he would be their special guest at an important gathering the following week. The old man felt joy he had never known.
Nevertheless he was perplexed at all the attention and called for the mathematician to visit his home.
“Sir, this is just the start. You showed gratitude for what you had by sharing it with others. Your wealth helped people with all kinds of difficulties and they are so grateful and touched by your generosity that they love and respect you. You have helped change their lives in unexpected and extraordinary ways and they will do the same for you.”
The old man looked at the mathematician in wonder. He liked the idea but was still unbelieving. “How will I live now I don’t have any money?”
The young man laughed. “It will come, sir, you will be fine.”
And it did. Over time, the old man gained tremendous wealth. Despite not having a family of his own, he became a father, grandfather, advisor and cherished friend of many people. He gave himself to the people of the town and they cared for his every need. Some people had used the old man’s money to help others less fortunate than themselves, and thus gratitude spread far and wide.
The old man was made an honorary figure of many of the businesses that benefitted from his money and eventually he even set up something of his own that flourished until his last days.