The Book of Thanks

Our story begins with two neighbors. Their houses are just in front of each other’s doors. Poor as they were, they were blessed with gardens so bountiful. Their yards bloomed with vegetables so plentiful. They nourished their gardens where harvest abound, with different kinds of vegetables growing all year round.

The first gardener would sell his harvest and keep his money inside a chest. But his next-door neighbor, his vegetables he would give. He’s just happy to hear people say “Thanks!” to him as they receive.

“Fool!” his selfish neighbor told him one day. “You work so hard just to give your vegetables away? If I were you, I’d sell them all and keep my money. Look at me! Next year, I can build a bigger house and marry my honey!”

But his neighbor, the generous gardener, just smiled. For he knew that the other man thought he was beguiled. Yet under the sun, he continued to work hard. He poured all his love in growing the vegetables on his yard.

He poured all his love in growing the vegetables on his yard.

Though deep inside he knew he doesn’t have enough money. He can’t afford to repair his home when the season becomes rainy. But this word of thanks he found more precious that they sound so right. “Thanks!” “Thank you!” “I’m grateful to you!” — he noted each word of gratitude in a book every night.

The greedy man soon saved enough money. He thinks his generous neighbor is crazy and funny. He built a large house made of stone and wood. And at his neighbor’s humble hut he laughed real good. He also heard and laughed about the good man’s book. “That crazy old fool! Does he think that book he can cook?”

One day, he called out to his neighbor and said, “Hey friend! You look hungry, don’t you have enough bread? Don’t you wish your house is as big and beautiful as mine? I even hired a gardener to work on my plants while I dine!”

“You have quite a big house,” his humble neighbor replied. “But truly, I am happy where I am,” he implied.

Months passed and the rainy season has come. Then the good man realized he needed to fix his home. Without enough money, he took his Book of Thanks, and a bright idea he suddenly thinks.

Thanks for sale! Book of Thanks, would you like to buy?” the townsfolk heard the good ol’ man cry. People thought he had gone crazy, yet he continued to sell the book and kept himself busy.

Word spread and reached the Sultan’s palace. “What is he selling? Come tell me fast!” the Sultan asked his guards, wondering. He thought he heard wrong about what the man was selling.

The guards told him, “He sells his Book of Thanks.” Then the Sultan knew it’s not one of the ordinary things. He then commanded his guards, “Bring him to me!” The gardener was summoned. He said “Your Majesty…” and continued, “I am selling my Book of Thanks, here.” He opened the book and the Sultan saw it clear. The book is filled with the same strong word. “The man is no fool, no, he is not absurd.”

Thanks‘ is written in clear, fine, and honest writing. “Good man, for this book how much are you selling?”

“I shall sell my book for whatever it would weigh in gold,” replied the good old man, praying his book would soon be sold.

The court attendants then brought forth a weighing scale. People come to witness, hoping to tell the tale. The Sultan placed the book on one side, a gold bar on the other. But alas! No one expects, the book weighed so much heavier!

“Gratitude weighs more than gold.”

And so he placed another bar of gold, but the book was heavier more than tenfold! And no matter how much gold on the scale the Sultan placed, the book still weighed heavier, and they were all amazed! So the Sultan brought out a sack of gold and said “Here, take these all! And please leave me in peace instead.”

The generous gardener left the palace rich and happy. He was able to build a bigger house with all that money. When his neighbor knew, he got jealous of course. He thought of a plan to get wealthier quickly, without remorse. He bought a book that’s a lot thicker and heavier, and hurriedly filled it with the word ‘thanks‘, the quicker the better. And following what his neighbor did, he offered his Book of Thanks for the Sultan to bid.

The Sultan placed a bag of gold on the scale, and put on the other side the book for sale. But the bag was heavier, so he removed half its content. The bag is still heavier, to the greedy man’s disappointment. Until finally, only some gold dust was left. But compared to the book, the gold dust has more heft.

“Poor man, you may spend a lifetime writing the word “thanks” down, but if it doesn’t come from other people’s true gratefulness, the word remains weightless as it is meaningless.”

“How can that be?” the greedy man wondered. “My book is gigantic! I labored for days repeatedly writing that word!”

“Aha!” exclaimed the Sultan in front of the whole town. “Poor man, you may spend a lifetime writing the word “thanks” down, but if it doesn’t come from other people’s true gratefulness, the word remains weightless as it is meaningless.”

And to this selfish man’s dismay, the Sultan ordered his guards to send him away.


This story is inspired by and derived from “The Book of Salamat” which originated from the Philippines.
It teaches about the importance of doing something good for others without expecting anything in return. In the story, the generous gardener collects the words of gratitude from the people he had helped, treating such words as even more precious than money. In the end, his good deeds paid off when the grateful words of those he helped had earned him more wealth than he could wish for. Indeed, gratitude weighs more than gold.
May we all have a generous heart and a grateful soul. 

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