Those of you who know me, are aware of the existence and significance of spirituality in my life. I recently attended a kirtan program and that’s where I heard the story I am about to share with you. It’s so beautiful, relevant, and important that you wouldn’t regret giving it a couple of minutes of your life. So now that you are here, stay till the end, okay? You won’t regret it, I promise.

Once there was this ruler who had access to all the gorgeousness, loyalty, wealth, and everything that money can buy (which means almost everything that there is; because money can buy you almost everything). But he didn’t experience absolute bliss/satisfaction/enjoyment (predictable? Why does this not surprise us? Why aren’t we shocked when we learn that extremely wealthy people have voids in their hearts that money fails to fill with everything it is capable of purchasing?) One day, he noticed one of his servants singing songs; as if he had nothing to complain about, as if he had everything that one needs to be happy from within. The ruler called him and asked him to share the secret of his happiness. He said, “I have been observing you and I can’t help but feel attracted to the composure and joy on your face. What makes you so happy? I want to know because I am curious, because I don’t think I ever feel the contentment you seem to effortlessly experience. “

His servant smiled and replied, “I am not a very rich man. But I have a roof over my head. For as long as I and my family can afford three meals a day, I have no reason to complain. I am happy with what I have. “

The ruler let him go but his words stayed with him. He discussed this with the wisest minister on his team. His minister said, “He is happy because he is not a part of the 99 club yet. “

The ruler asked him what he meant. The minister insisted on demonstrating. He convinced the ruler to pack 99 gold coins for this servant and drop them at his doorstep without letting him know who delivered those and why. 

The next morning they left the packet at his doorstep and hid behind the bushes nearby. Upon seeing the gold coins, the servant couldn’t contain his excitement and joy (you see gold was life changing back then, and gold is life changing now. Aise hi nahi ghar wale bolte ki gold me invest karo). He woke up his wife, mother, and son out of elation, and began counting the coins. They were 99. But the number 99 didn’t seem right. He thought the the total number must be 100 and he must have been mistaken. So he counted again. And again. And again. 99 every time. Then he asked his family to count. Then again. And again. 99 every single time. 

He could not wrap his head around the whole thing and it left a deep impact on him. He is supposed to have 100 coins. There is a missing coin he can’t find. The missing coin he is entitled to because he got 99 and he is supposed to get 100. The restlessness turned into irritation, annoyance, and frustration. 

And you know what? 

He eventually stopped singing. Because he was no longer the happy ordinary man he used to be. 

The minister said, “He is officially a member of the 99 club now. It’s the group of people who have everything but can’t stop worrying, wanting more, and getting sad over problems that don’t even exist. Perpetual dissatisfaction, perpetual sadness.”

 

I can’t stop thinking about this story because I don’t know anyone who isn’t a part of the 99 club. I don’t know anyone who is content with what they have, no matter how much they have. And I am guilty of owning a membership card too.

But I want to quit. I want to leave this club and never be a part of it again. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not about dreaming less; it’s about living your life more, singing the songs you like, expressing gratitude for happy surprises, and it’s about not looking for the 100th coin when you already have 99 in your possession; because maybe it doesn’t exist, and if it does, it will find its way to you. 

So while I am leaving, I thought I should submit an official resignation. I have recently learned that resignations can be contagious. So I am hoping to take some of you along. 

It won’t happen overnight because we will be pulled back in, several times. But I know I will find my way out of this club. And if you wish to, you will too. 

Maybe we can have our own little club called the 100 club wherein we are 100% grateful for the love and warmth we feel when there is absence of sorrow. Maybe.