Alexander and Diogenes On Being Content

alexander_diog

Now when Alexander [the Great] appeared before the Greek leaders in Corinth they greeted him warmly and paid him lavish compliments- all of them, that is but one. A funny fellow, a philosopher named Diogenes. He had views not unlike those of the Buddha. According to him, possessions and all the things we think we need only serve to distract us and get in the way of our simple enjoyment of life. So he had given away everything he owned and now sat, almost naked, in a barrel in the market square in Corinth where he lived, free and independent like a stray dog.

Curious to meet this strange fellow, Alexander went to call on him. Dressed in shining armour, the plume on his helmet waving in the breeze, he walked up to the barrel and said to Diogenes: ‘I like you. Let me know your wish and I shall grant it.’ Diogenes, who had until then been comfortably sunning himself, replied: ‘Indeed, Sire, I have a wish.’ ‘Well, what is it?’ ‘Your shadow has fallen over me: stand a little less between me and the sun.’ Alexander is said to have been so struck by this that he said: ‘If I weren’t Alexander, I should like to be Diogenes.’

Source: “A Little History Of The World” by E.H. Gombrich

God’s Word reminds us to : (John the Baptist speaking…) Lk 3:14 ‘And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.”

(Paul writes…): Phil 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” KJV

(Luke writes…): Heb 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” KJV

“In this Earth, we have things….. not to consume upon ourselves, but to share with those around us. As long as you have one hand to give, the other will always be filled. Give and it will be given unto you. Alexander felt he had to conquer the world….and doing just that, was not even enough. Had Alexander been content with what he had, and what he was doing, things would surely have turned out different or himself and the rest of the world”…ofthestory

What’s the whole story?

Alexander the Great visits Diogenes

When Alexander the Great was coming to India he met one great man, Diogenes. In their dialogue there is one point which is relevant. Diogenes asked him, “What are you going to do after you have conquered the whole world?”

Alexander said, “After I have conquered the whole world, I am going to relax, just like you.”

Diogenes was having a sunbath, naked. He lived naked, by the side of a river, and he was lying in the sand enjoying the morning sun and the cool breeze.

Diogenes laughed and he said, “If after conquering the whole world you are just going to relax like me, why not relax right now? Is conquering the whole world a precondition for relaxation? I have not conquered the whole world.”

Alexander felt embarrassed because what he was saying was right. Then Diogenes said, “Why are you wasting your life in conquering the world – only to relax, finally, just like me. This bank of the river is big enough, you can come, your friends can come. It is miles long and the forest is beautiful. And I don’t possess anything. If you like the place where I am lying down, I can change!”

Alexander said, “Perhaps you are right, but first I have to conquer the world.”

Diogenes said, “It is up to you. But remember one thing: have you ever thought that there is no other world? Once you have conquered this world, you will be in difficulty.”

It is said that Alexander became immediately sad. He said, “I have never thought about it. It makes me feel very sad that I am so close to conquering the world … and I am only thirty-three, and there is no other world to conquer.”

Diogenes said, “But you were thinking to relax. If there was another world, I think first you would conquer that and then relax. You will never relax because you don’t understand a simple thing about relaxation – it’s either now or never. If you understand it, lie down, throw these clothes in the river.

If you don’t understand, forget about relaxation. And what is the point in conquering the world? What are you going to gain by it? Except losing your life, you are not going to gain anything.”

Alexander said, “I would like to see you again when I come back. Right now I have to go, but I would have loved to sit and listen to you. I have always thought of meeting you – I have heard so many stories about you. But I have never met such a beautiful and impressive man as you. Can I do anything for you? Just a word, a hint from you, and it will be done.”

Diogenes said, “If you can just stand a little to the side, because you are blocking the sun. That will be enough gratitude – and I will remain thankful for my whole life.”

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