Master Hua had painted for many years and had become a renowned artist in the province. A farmer by trade, he worked his fields as hard as any man through the seasons. But when winter set in and the fields needed no tending, he found the time to show his appreciation, through his fine art, for the nature he communed with daily. He would sell these works locally to help stave off the lack of income in the leanest months.

One day a travelling Prefect from the capital city happened upon the man, as he and his eldest son set out his display in a small shop in town. For the shop owner, the art not only caught a passer’s eye, but also drew people into his shop to look. And for this convenience to Master Hua, he charged but a small pittance of the sale. Master Hua was appreciative and was glad to know that the shop keeper would also benefit from this in these hardest times of the year.

The Prefect raved to Master Hua, “The beauty and craft of your art is amazing. What price are you asking for this painting?” When Master Hua answered, the Prefect exclaimed, “You could sell this art for five times that price in the capital.” Master Hua humbly thanked him for his kind words and stated, “I have no interest in moving to the city to sell my art.” The Prefect merely shrugged and paid Master Hua twice the given price, making sure he reserved enough to get back home. When Master Hua tried to refuse his overpayment, the Prefect simply turned and continued on his way feeling he had struck quite a bargain.

As they finished their work, Master Hua’s son asked, “Why would you not want to give up the hard work of the fields and move to the city to paint all day instead? With the money you would make we could live a very comfortable life, wanting for nothing.” Master Hua reminded his son, “We already have no want for anything. All our needs have been sufficiently met in our lives, and always have been.” His son replied, “But, we could have so much more”.

Master Hua paid the shop owner his share and then added a few more coins, as the Prefect had been so generous in giving more. As they left the shop, his son asked, “Why did you give Master Wong the extra money? If you had paid him just his fair commission, there would be more for us. Now we may have to do with less through winter.” “Don’t worry son, we have enough,” assured his father.

As they left the small village, they came across a beggar huddled under the eave of a temple. Master Hua walked over and placed a handful of coins into his bowl. The beggar blessed and thank Master Hua for his kindness. “Why did you give away even more of our money?”, complained his son.

Master Hua recognized the chance to impart a great wisdom to his son, and told him, “Son, your misperception of these transactions is skewed by the accepted idea that ‘more’ and ‘less’ truly exist. But that is not the case. ‘More’ and ‘less’ are a myth created to perceive some people above and others below. But this, too, is not the case.” As his son listened intently, still somewhat puzzled by his words, he continued, “More does not mean better, nor less mean worse. We are measured by who we are, not by what we have. The only true measure is ‘enough’. The true path to the best self is learning to be mindful, thankful, and appreciative of having ‘enough’. Any craving for ‘more’ or dismissal of ‘less’ leads to unhappiness.”

His son’s mindset wrestled with understanding and Master Hua could see it in his eyes. He tried to make it clearer and said, “Let’s follow the thought of ‘more’, my son. When the Prefect first approached us, you see him as having ‘more’, his purse filled with coins. I sell him a painting and he keeps enough to get back to the city safely and well fed. Happy to have enough and the painting under his arm. It would not appear that keeping the ‘more’ would have made him happier. Now the ‘more’ is mine. I give some of the ‘more’ to the shop keeper. Now he has enough to fix his leaking roof before the next snow. He is happy to be warm and safe having enough. And, we still have ‘more’ leftover. Then we meet someone who does not have enough. We give him our ‘more’ and he is thankful to have enough. Now, we no longer have ‘more’, but we are no less happy and thankful because we have enough. The true balance of the Tao is that for every ‘more’ there is a ‘less’ and the center point of true happiness in life is everyone having enough.”

5 Responses to “Enough”
  1. Jim Borden says:

    great story with a great message.

  2. jupitergrant says:

    Wonderful. Such a beautiful Taoist story. Thank you 🌻 💛

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