My dear young friend,
I quite agree. It is the petty injustice that has the bitter sting, and you
have been done a petty injustice.
All the same, one should expect it. It is no different in our time. When the
rich man approaches the palace his welcome is sure. The minor clerks of the
government are swift to see that his every desire is met. So you see, you
inherited all this from us. I do apologize.
The rich man always has a friend at court. I gather from your letter that
these few changes to your modest dwelling take an enormous toll in paper and
taxes. The taxes I understand; the paper I have never understood. But the nature
of the clerks has not changed either. That his vast plans meet with swift
approval while your small one idles from one clerk to the next—I can but say
our clerks are of the same breed. Their bloodline does not bear close
Consider, however, if you really wish to strive to be rich: Is this man truly
rich, or merely attached to great possessions? There is quite a difference. A
man may have little and yet be rich. How? Simply thus: a man is rich when his
possessions exceed his desires. He is poor when they do not.
So you see that possessions are a mask! They conceal poverty often enough. If
the desire of a man’s heart is always for greater wealth, could he ever be
satisfied? Could he ever be rich? It cannot be done.
How strong are the chains of greed! They bind a man in this life to his
possessions, and in the life to come they bind him in hell itself. Flee from
them; there is nothing good to be gained by such a desire.
You might well ask, “are you not a rich man?” Indeed by the world’s
test I am. My estate is fruitful. But I am a rich man because my desire for more
has been tamed. Over many years I have discovered God’s truth in this. If you
will consider the little or much you have to be a trust from God, and use it as
best your wisdom and prayer direct, he will always provide whatever you lack.
The human heart causes poverty—not lack of money. Tame your desires, bring
them into God’s holy will, and you will soon see them satisfied.
I wish I could tell you that this will also remove the petty injustice in the
clerk’s office. It will not. But God’s mercy extends to all who will come to
him. Perhaps some day it will extend to your rich man—or even unto your clerk.
As pleased with clerks as you are, I remain,
Isaac the alchemist