Another observance for Akimoto Suzutomo


Observance VI
Akimoto Suzutomo, a wealthy adherent of the tea ceremony, once gave his
page 100 ryo (gold pieces) and instructed him to purchase a tea bowl offered by a particular dealer. When the page saw the bowl, he doubted it
was worth that much, and after much bargaining got the price reduced to
95 ryo. Days later, after Suzutomo had put the bowl to use, the page
proudly told hirn what he had done.
"What an ignoramus you are!" replied Suzutomo. 

"A tea bowl that
anyone asks 100 pieces of gold for can only be a family heirloom, and a
thing like that is only sold when the family is pressed for money. And in
that case they will be hoping to find someone who will give even 150
pie ces for it. So what sort of fellow is it who does not consider their feelings? Quite apart from that, a curio that you give 100 ryo for is something
worth having, but one that has only cost 95 gives a mean impression. So
never let me see that tea bowl again!" And he had the bowl locked away,
and never took it out.
When you insist on paying less, you may save your five ryo, but the insult
you cause and the cheap impression you create will cost you in reputation,
which is the thing the powerful prize above all.

 Leam to pay the full
price-it will save you a lot in the end.
Observance VII
Sometime near the beginning of the seventeenth century in Japan, a group
of generals whiled away the time before a big battle by staging an incensesmelling competition. Each participant anted up a prize for the contest's
winners-bows, arrows, saddles, and other items a warrior would covet.
The great Lord Date Masamune happened to pass by and was induced to
participate. For a prize, he offered the gourd that hung from his belt. Everyone laughed, for no one wanted to win this cheap item. A retainer of the
host finally accepted the gourd.
When the party broke up, however, and the generals were chatting
outside the tent, Masamune brought over his magnificent horse and gave it
to the retainer. "There," he said, "a horse has come out of the gourd." The
stunned generals suddenly regretted their seorn at Masamune's gift.
Masamune understood the following:

 Money gives its possessor the ability
to give pleasure to others. The more you can do this, the more you attract
admiration. When you make a horse come out of a gourd, you give the ultimate demonstration of your power.
Image : The River. To protect
yourself or to save the resource,
you dam it up. Soon, however,
the waters become dank and
pestilent. Only the foulest
forms of life can live in such
stagnant waters; nothing traveIs on them, all commerce
stops. Destroy the dam. When
water flows and circulates, it generates abundance, wealth, and
power in ever larger circles. The
River must flood periodically
for good things to flourish.
Authority: The great man who is a miser is a great fool, and a man in
high places can have no vice so harmful as avarice. A miserly man can
conquer neither lands nor lordships, for he does not have a plentiful
supply of friends with whom he may work his will. Whoever wants to
have friends must not love his possessions but must acquire friends by
means of fair gifts; for in the same way that the lodestone subtly draws
iran to itself, so the gold and silver that a man gives attract the hearts
of men. ( The Romance ofthe Rose, Guillaume de Lorris, c. 1200-1238)
I took money only
from those who cnuld
afford it and were willing to go in wirh me in
sehern es they fancied
would fleece others.
They wanted money
for its own sake. I
wanted it for the luxuries and pleasures it
would afford me. They
were se/dom eoncerned
wirh human nature.
They knew little�and
cared less�about their
fellow men. Ifthey had
been keener student.l· of
human nature, if they
had given more time tn
companinnship wirh
their fellows and less to
the chase ofthe
almighty dollar, they
wouldn 't have been
such easy marks.
1 875-1976
LAW 40 345
346 LAW 40
The powerful never forget that what is offered for free is inevitably a trick.
Friends who offer favors without asking for payment will iater want something far dearer than the money you would have paid them. The bargain
has hidden problems, both material and psychological. Leam to pay, then,
and to pay weIl.
On the other hand, this Law offers great opportunities for swindling
and deception if you apply it from the other side. Dangling the lure of a
free lunch is the con artist's stock in trade.
No man was better at this than the most successful con artist of our
age, Joseph Weil, a.k.a. 

"The Yellow Kid." The Yellow Kid leamed early
that what made his swindles possible was his fellow humans' greed. "This
desire to get something for nOthing," he once wrote, "has been very costly
to many people who have dealt with me and with other con men. . . .
When people leam-as I doubt they will-that they can't get something
for nOthing, crime will diminish and we shall all live in greater harmony."
Over the years Weil devised many ways to seduce people with the prospect
of easy money. He would hand out "free" real estate-who could resist
such an offer?-and then the suckers would leam they had to pay $25 to
register the sale. Since the land was free, it seemed worth the high fee, and
the Yellow Kid would make thousands of dollars on the phony registration.

 In exchange he would give his suckers a phony deed. Other times, he
would tell suckers about a fixed horse race, or a stock that would eam 200
percent in a few weeks. As he spun his stories he would watch the sucker's
eyes open wide at the thought of a free lunch.
The lesson is simple: Bait your deceptions with the possibility of easy
money. People are essentially lazy, and want wealth to fall in their lap
rather than to work for it. For a small sum, seIl them advice on how to
make millions (P. T. Bamum did this later in life), and that small sum will
become a fortune when multiplied by thousands of suckers. Lure people in
with the prospect of easy money and you have the room to work still more
deceptions on them, since greed is powerful enough to blind your victims
to anything. And as the Yellow Kid said, half the fun is teaching a moral
lesson: Greed does not pay.

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