The Grasping, Greedy Ego

By Imam Jamal Rahman

“Those who are saved from the covetousness of their own souls, they are the ones who achieve prosperity.” (Qur’an 64:16)

“If the son of Adam were to possess two valleys of riches, he would long for a third one.” ~The Prophet Muhammad

Beware of the desires of the ego that is never satisfied. A classic Sufi story illustrates this insight.

A mighty medieval emperor felt pity for an old beggar limping with his begging bowl outside his palace. The guards summoned the beggar inside.

“Old man, name your desires. I feel moved to fulfill them,” commanded the emperor. “Only that Majesty upon High can do that. You cannot even fill my bowl,” replied the beggar, in reality a self-realized Master with a magical bowl.

Challenged, the emperor ordered rubies and emeralds to be put into his bowl. Astonishingly, they vanished! Whatever riches were heaped into the bowl, they simply disappeared. The bowl swallowed them up. In desperation, the emperor asked, “What bowl is this?”

“This is the desire bowl of the ego, your Majesty, always desiring but never satisfied. This bowl swallows whatever is put into it. Understand this and you become an emperor; otherwise you remain a beggar.

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