Archive for the ‘vanity of human achievement’ Category

Ambition

August 4, 2009
On the appearance of Alexander the Great and his army some Indian sages (Jain Monks) stamped their feet and gave no other sign of interest. Alexander asked them through interpreters what they meant by this odd behaviour, and they replied: ‘King Alexander, every man can possess only so much of the earth’s surface as this we are standing on. You are but human like the rest of us, save that you are always busy and up to no good, traveling so many miles from your home, a nuisance to yourself and to others!…You will soon be dead, and then you will own just as much of the earth as will suffice to bury you.
Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander
Arrian says that Alexander expressed approval of these words. yet in point of fact, his life, even after this incident, was a denial of their words. Cf. James 1.23, ‘For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.’
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