The Great Bourgeois

(A Tale by Carlos Bernardo Gonzalez Pecotche*)

A powerful man, so wealthy that he was never able to measure his fortune, was thinking how useless his life was, and how unfortunate he was to live a life full of fears and anxieties.  “What is the use - he thought - of so much richness, if everything bores me, and I am unable to free myself from the anguish that gnaws my soul!”

Concerned with this idea, he finally decided to consult a renowned wise man and ask him to pull him out of this situation.

"And you are not able to be happy in spite of all your richness?" asked the wise man.

"No!" Answered the rich monarch. "I have everything I want, and need nothing else, except peace in my spirit and happiness."

"Then you need nothing else," answered the wise man "except to assign some value to the spirit."

"Value...value..." whispered the man to himself; and as if he suddenly understood the insinuation, he said "It is true; if there is no peace in my spirit, I end up being consumed by an eternal unhappiness.  But what should I do to feel happy? Tell me."



"Look; from this point very onwards starts a path. It is long, even though not too long  that it cannot be covered in its entirety. At the end of it, you will discover keys that, as soon as they become yours, will make you the happiest man on earth. You may even be able to multiply your fortune a hundred fold if you so desire, but on the condition that you use it for good purposes and contribute to the happiness of others, which does not mean obviously that you deprive yourself of what you want."

The powerful man looked intensely at the wise man, and after a moment of reflection seemed to have come to a decision :

"What you said sounds very good to me; I will send today my assistants to bring those keys to me.  Thank you for your advice."

The assistants left and after days and months had passed the great bourgeois continued with his boredom and inquietudes which tormented him more and more. As these had not returned, he sent other assistants with the same purpose, but they did not return either. As the years went by and still without any news, he became desperate one day and went to see the wise man. After telling him what he had done, he then inquired with surprise about the causes that could have motivated such long absence of his emissaries.

"Happiness, my good man - replied the wise man - must be sought by oneself: its conquest is absolutely personal! I had told you to search for the keys, and to spare yourself inconveniences, you sent your assistants to fetch them. And so, since they have acquired the keys, they are happy, and the very duties of this happiness impedes them to return to you and waste time which they use to teach others, better disposed to find them. The proof of what I say is true is that, if they had found nothing, they would already have returned and continue to be in your service."

The great bourgeois was impressed by what had occurred, and seeing himself already become an old man, since many years had passed while waiting for their return, he asked anxiously:

"Tell me: would I still have time to go myself? Would I also find these keys and be happy?"

"You can go if you want; no one will stop you.  But the life you have wasted uselessly will not return to you. You yearned to be happy; you felt this need when you were young and strong; nevertheless you preferred, like a good bourgeois, to have others do things for you while your life was consumed by idleness, boredom, fears and the anguish of unhappiness. Go, then, and seek them  yourself, if you have the strength to reach that goal."

The powerful man, already aging, left thinking that he still had many years ahead of him, but as he marched he was soon overtaken by fatigue due to his age and the lack of training. Nonetheless, he did make some progress, but being weak, he fell down to never rise again.

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We think that the following morale can be extracted from this narrative: One should not delegate to others what concerns one’s own knowledge. Happiness, whose conquest is exclusively individual, cannot be ordered from third parties.

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*Excerpt from the book "Logosophical Interlude"originally published in Spanish. Free Translation

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