The Greedy Sons – Spiritual Story by Anthony de Mello

The Greedy Sons - Spiritual Story by Anthony de MelloThere was once a hard-working and generous farmer who had several idle and greedy sons. On his deathbed he told them that the would find his treasure if they were to dig in a certain field. As soon as the old man was dead, the sons hurried to the fields, which they dug up from one end to another, and with increasing desperation and concentration when they did not find the gold in the place indicated.

But they found no gold at all. Realizing that in his generosity their father must have given his gold away during his lifetime, they abandoned their search. Finally, it occurred to them that, since the land had been prepared they might as well now sow a crop. They planted wheat, which produced an abundant yield. They sold this crop and prospered that year.

After the harvest was in, the sons thought again about the bare possibility that they might have missed the buried gold, so they again dug up the fields, with the same result. After several years they became accustomed to labor, and to the cycle of the seasons, something which they had not understood before.

Now they understood the reason for their father's method of training them, and they became honest and contented farmers. Ultimately, they found themselves possessed of sufficient wealth and no longer to wonder about the hidden hoard.

This is from The Heart of the Enlightened, a book of spiritual stories by Anthony de Mello.

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What Is the Spiritual Message / Moral of “The Greedy Sons” Parable?

At its heart, the parable of the Greedy Sons serves as a harbinger of profound wisdom—a testament to the transformative power nestled within the labyrinth of life's experiences. It whispers of a journey—a journey not just through the fertile soil of a field but through the fertile landscape of the human soul.

The farmer, in his final moments, bestowed upon his sons an enigmatic quest—a quest for material treasure buried within the earth. Yet, beyond the tangible pursuit of riches lay a subtle invitation—an invitation to embark upon a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. The treasure, not merely a chest of gold, but a symbolic metaphor for the deeper riches concealed within the realms of consciousness.

The sons, driven by avarice and impatience, embarked on a fervent excavation, digging tirelessly in pursuit of elusive riches. But the universe had a different design, a grander orchestration beyond their comprehension. In the absence of gleaming gold, the earth yielded a different bounty—a harvest of wheat, an abundance that whispered the secrets of sustenance and providence.

It is within this profound twist of fate that the spiritual revelation begins to unfurl—a revelation cloaked in the cyclical rhythm of nature, in the harmony between effort and fruition. The sons, initially blinded by the allure of material wealth, found themselves amidst the cycle of seasons—a metaphorical dance mirroring the ebb and flow of life's experiences.

Through toil and the passage of time, their consciousness expanded, illuminating the seeds of understanding that lay dormant within their souls. The wisdom of their father's teachings began to blossom—an understanding not bound by the glitter of gold but anchored in the soil of integrity, labor, and acceptance of life's mysteries.

With each passing year, the sons were initiated into the sacred communion with nature—the alchemy of growth and transformation mirrored by the cyclical nature of sowing and reaping. In this communion, they unearthed the profound lessons buried within their father's enigmatic legacy.

The narrative arcs towards an awakening—a spiritual metamorphosis that transcends the allure of material wealth. The sons, once driven by greed, evolved into stewards of the land, custodians of its abundance, and guardians of wisdom passed through generations.

Ultimately, their quest for the buried treasure led them to the greatest discovery—the treasure trove nestled within the sanctum of their souls. Their journey through the fields of labor and introspection bestowed upon them the wealth of spiritual understanding, contentment, and an unwavering acceptance of life's providence.

In the end, the pursuit of hidden riches faded into insignificance as the sons, now enlightened by the deeper treasures uncovered within, found solace in the abundance of their newfound awareness. They embraced their roles as honest farmers, custodians of nature's gifts, and torchbearers of spiritual insight—a legacy far more enduring and enriching than any material hoard.

Personal Reflection Questions

Spiritual stories are an opportunity to reflect on your own life. Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this story:

  1. Reflect on the significance of the farmer's choice to send his sons on a quest for buried treasure upon his death. How does this act serve as a metaphor for life's journey and the pursuit of meaningful goals?
  2. Consider the initial reactions of the sons when they couldn't find the gold in the specified location. How does their desperation and concentration reflect common human responses to unmet expectations or perceived failures?
  3. Explore the theme of generosity in the father's actions, both in giving his sons a task and potentially having given away his gold during his lifetime. How does generosity play a role in the unfolding of the story, and what lessons might it convey?
  4. Contemplate the shift in focus from seeking buried treasure to cultivating the land and sowing crops. How does this transition symbolize a change in mindset, from pursuing immediate wealth to embracing the cyclical nature of labor and seasons?
  5. Reflect on the repeated digging of the fields and the realization that no gold was buried. How might this repetition contribute to the sons' understanding of the value of labor, patience, and the cyclical nature of life?
  6. Explore the transformation of the sons from idle and greedy individuals to honest and contented farmers. How does their newfound understanding of labor and seasons contribute to this change, and what broader life lessons can be gleaned?
  7. Consider the concept of prosperity in the story, initially tied to the abundance of the wheat crop. How does the definition of prosperity evolve for the sons throughout their journey?
  8. Reflect on the passage of time and the years it took for the sons to fully grasp the lessons embedded in their father's method of training. How does this timeline contribute to the story's exploration of personal growth and understanding?
  9. Contemplate the idea of hidden wealth and how, over time, the sons no longer wonder about the elusive buried gold. How might this realization speak to the evolving priorities and perspectives that come with experience?
  10. Consider the overarching theme of the story, emphasizing the transformative power of labor, seasons, and the understanding gained through lived experience. How might this narrative inspire readers to reflect on their own journeys, priorities, and definitions of wealth and prosperity?