Diogenes and Alexander

“Empty-handed you come, empty-handed you go”

Diogenes was a rebellious mystic and is one of the most renowned philosophers. He had a very simple and minimalistic lifestyle. He lived naked and had no possessions except for a lamp. He walked with his lamp in full daylight claiming to be in search of an honest man. But he never found one and deduced that:

“ Humans live artificially and hypocritically and are nothing but rascals and scoundrels. I’ll rather study a dog because he lives in the present without claiming any abstract philosophy. ”

As a result, his only companion was a dog with whom he spent most of his time. When Plato asserted: “A man is nothing but a featherless chicken.”
Diogenes mocked him by bringing an actual featherless chicken to Plato’s Academy and then exclaimed: “Behold, I’ve brought you a man.”

During the same time, Alexander “The Great” was reaching unbelievable heights of fame, wealth and success with his ceaseless endeavours to conquer the world! While going to India, he was passing through Greece where Diogenes lived. Alexander had heard a lot of interesting tales about Diogenes and so he was excited to meet him. When Alexander came to meet him, Diogenes was lying naked on the sand near the banks of a river taking a sunbath. Alexander was embarrassed because Diogenes was naked and didn’t even stood up to greet him.

Alexander was surprised so he announced:

“Perhaps you don’t know who I am”

Diogenes laughed and continued to ignore him.

Alexander being even more astonished exclaimed:

“I am Alexander The Great !”

Diogenes looked at his dog and said :

“Woha ! Did you listen? This man thinks he is the greatest man in the world. He must be suffering from a great inferiority complex.”

Alexander was fascinated with his charisma and said:

“I would have loved to listen to your wisdom but I’m in a hurry and in a pursuit to conquer the world.”

Diogenes grimaced and said:

“Have you ever thought what will you do after conquering this world? Because there is only one world. ”

Alexander was perplexed and he replied:

“ Honestly, I have never thought about it. Perhaps I’ll relax after I conquer the world. ”

Diogenes again turned to his dog and uttered:

“ This man is crazy. He is watching me already resting and relaxing without conquering a thing! And he’ll relax after he has conquered the whole world. ”

Alexander was flabbergasted and ashamed at the same time because the truth was crystal clear. Being impressed with his wisdom he said:

“I can understand… I am looking foolish before you. Can I do anything for you? I have really fallen in love with you. I have seen great kings and great generals, but I have never seen such a courageous man like you, who didn’t even stood up to greet me”

To Alexander’s surprise Diogenes replied:

“Okay, so I demand you to move away from me. You’re blocking the sun. I am taking a sunbath, don’t you see?”

Alexander has developed a liking for his weirdness and so ignored his misdemeanour and said:

“I would have loved to listen to your wisdom but I’m in a hurry. I will meet you again after I conquer the world.”

Diogenes replied: “You’ll never come to me again.”

Alexander remembered him continuously throughout his journey to India. Surprisingly, Alexander never met him again as he died while returning from India. The bizarre coincidence was that Alexander and Diogenes died on the same day.

In Greek Mythology, the aftermath says that every dead must to cross a river which is the boundary between this world and the other. There is an interesting anecdote which says that: Diogenes and Alexander met each other while crossing the river. Alexander was embarrassed because this time he was also naked just like every other dead person. To hide his embarrassment Alexander exclaimed:

“Hello, Diogenes. Perhaps this may be the first time in the history of existence that a great emperor and a naked beggar are crossing the river together. ”

Diogenes grimaced and replied:

“It is, but you are not clear about who is the emperor and who is the beggar. You wasted your life but still you’re stubborn. Where is your empire? I have not lost anything because I had nothing, only that lamp. That too I had found by the side of the road – I don’t know to whom it belongs – and by the side of the road I have left it. I had gone into the world naked, I am coming from the world naked.”

Diogenes enjoyed every moment of his life with tremendous bliss. On the contrary, Alexander suffered with his colossal burden of ambition and did not actually live the moment. In fact, he died only at a mere age of 32.

This beautiful anecdote enlightens our lexicon about life.

“Life is a ticket to an amusement park, enjoy it while you can. Don’t be blinded by ambition or intoxicated by ego. Let go of everything you’re clinging to. Empty-handed you come and empty-handed you go. But still you go on accumulating, getting more and more attached and rooted in this world from where you have to leave. There is no point in possessing anything because the moment you start possessing something you are possessed by it. What you seek, seeks you!”

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