The “Greedy” Monk


Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service


A Buddhist monk had a great talent as a painter, but he always demanded a down payment before he began to paint, and charged high prices. So he was known as the greedy monk.

Once a geisha sent for him to paint for her. When he arrived, she was with a customer. He asked his usual question, “What will you pay?” She said, “Any amount you name, but you have to paint right here and now.” So he mentioned the highest sum he had ever received for a painting. She agreed, he painted a beautiful flower arrangement and collected the money.

The geisha said to her customer, “He has talent, but how can you display the painting of such a greedy, ugly man. It is just good enough for my underwear.” With that, she threw one of her under robes towards him and asked him to paint on it. He did, and again collected a handsome amount.

Later, people found out why this monk had been apparently so greedy. The poor people in his home province suffered from hunger and the rich refused to help them. So he used the money he earned by painting to build granaries, buy grain and distribute it to the poor in times of famine. Nobody in his province ever knew who the benefactor was. People tend to see in others what their prejudices tell them.


Dietrich Fischer (1941-2015) from Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. Fischer was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University 1986-88, has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities, and been a consultant to the United Nations. He was co-founder, with Johan Galtung, of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment in 1993.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 15 Jun 2020.

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