*The following story is my adaptation of a buddhist tale of the thai forest tradition
Five kids were playing in the woods. Picking up sticks, throwing rocks, looking at flowers and pretending they were Indians. All of a sudden a little man in a green coat bounded out from behind some bushes. Startled at the site of the children, he pranced off in the opposite direction. But those kids were fast! They chased after him and soon had him surrounded.
“Aye! You’ve caught me”, yelled the tiny man with the Irish accent.
“Are you a leprechaun?” asked one of the children.
“Why that I am my child. Will you please let me go now? I must be on my way.”
“You are a leprechaun and we’ve caught you! That means you must grant us a wish before we let you go!” piped a second child.
“Ah. This is true. I may grant you one wish. But only one of you.”
“But all of us caught you! We should each get a wish!” said a child.
“I can only grant one wish. The way this will work is that each of you children will tell me a wish. Whoever has the most clever wish will be the winner and I will make that wish come true! Now who is first to tell me their wish!”
The first child said, “If I had a wish I would wish for a brand new slingshot!” Since he was terrible at throwing rocks and hadn’t hit anything all day long.
The second child said,”If I had a wish, I would wish to own a Toys R Us. Then I can have a sling shot and an XBOX and all the other toys I want!” The first child became sad, realizing how silly he was to wish for only a single toy while the other child’s wish was so much better.
The third child said, “My wish is for a billion dollars. With a billion bucks, I can buy my own Toys R Us, a candy store and whatever else I want! Maybe even my own house too, that way I’ll be able to play video games and eat chocolate all day and my Mom won’t be able to stop me!” Now the second child felt dumb, clearly this third child had the superior wish and was much smarter than he. How silly it was of him to wish for a Toys R Us when he could have wished for a billion dollars.
The fourth child was a girl, and a very sharp one at that. “If I had a wish,” she said, “Then I would wish for three more wishes! With my first wish I’d get my Toys R Us, with my second wish I’d ask for a billion dollars, and for my third wish I’d ask for three more wishes! That way I can go on wishing forever!” Now even the child who had wished for a billion dollars felt sad. The girl was clearly a genius.
The four children then looked over to the last remaining child standing there quietly. Surely there was no chance of him to win, for what could possibly top an infinity of wishes?
But the fifth child proved to be the most clever of them all. He said, “If I had a wish, I would wish that I was so content that I would never need any more wishes!”
With that the leprechaun smiled, and granted the last boy his wish, and he became enlightened.