One day a monk left his ashram and went out to the main street of the city, jiggling a few copper coins in the palm of his hand. As the beggars thronged around him, he announced that he would only give the coins to the poorest man in the city. As the demanding hands pressed him from all sides, he kept saying, “No, it is not you not you, not you,” and he continued walking.
Suddenly the fanfare of trumpets obscured the noise of the city. Guards hurried down the street to clear away the riff-raff, and proclaimed that the Maharaja was coming out of his palace on his royal elephant.
The people lined the street with eager anticipation to make their obeisance to their king, but the monk stepped in front of the elephant, and, addressing the king in a loud voice, said, “Great Maharaj! I have something for you.” And he tossed the copper coins to the king.
The king was astounded and demanded to know why the monk was being so impertinent.
“Your majesty, I made a vow that today I would give this copper coin to the poorest man in the city.”
“Me” screamed the king. “I own this city. I own this whole country. How can you say that I am the poorest man?”
“Because you have constant hunger for more possessions.”
This is the snare of maya, the cosmic delusion: the more we feel separated from God, the more we try to fill our life with possessions, which further deepens our spiritual emptiness. This constant rush to acquire more things, more sensations, more people, and more thoughts turns us from divine children to bestial paupers. “Poverty”, as Plato said, “consists, not in the decrease of one's possessions, but in the increase of one's greed.”