Ancient Chinese Stories: Rich but Unaware

Rose and pearl. (CC0 Public Domain [https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/])

By Anonymous

Long ago, a poor man visited his relatives, who treated him with generosity and kindness. He fell asleep in his seat after drinking and having a rich meal.

Suddenly, the host had to leave right away to handle a business affair. Since he could not wake up his poor relative, he sewed an invaluable pearl on the poor man’s clothes. This exquisite pearl was named “Wisdom.” The host quickly left afterward.

The drunk, poor man was completely unaware of what had transpired. When he woke up, he left to continue wandering. He still lived a poor man’s life and could barely find enough food to eat every day. He had no idea that there was an expensive pearl sewn on his clothes.

Sometime later, the poor man and his relative bumped into each other. Seeing that the man was still dressed in rags, the relative sighed, “You really are a fool. You painstakingly look for clothes and food every day. But what for? I thought you would be living a good life by now. When you visited, I sewed a priceless pearl onto your clothes. You could have been rich and living a wealthy life this entire time, yet instead you have been busy still begging for food and clothes!”

This story hints that Gods gave humans wisdom before we came to this world. But we gradually forgot about this priceless pearl named Wisdom and became busy and muddle-headed, toiling away on the journey of life.

Translated by Dora Li into English, this story is reprinted with permission from the book “Treasured Tales of China,” Vol. 1, available on Amazon. 

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