In Burma, in days gone by, a wealthy landlord decided to build a rest house for wandering monks. He invited, or rather, commanded the men of the village over which he held sway, to work on the project.
“You will earn merit by this work,” he announced, “so I will not pay you.”
Nobody wanted to displease him so all the able-bodied men of the village came to help. All except the village simpleton. He sat on a log and watched the others work, marvelling at their industry.
The landlord’s blood boiled when he spotted the idler.
“Why aren’t you working!” he hollered.
“I would have liked to work on this noble undertaking,” said the simpleton, rising to his feet, “but my stomach is empty. Who can work on an empty stomach?”
Seeing that the man was of robust build and capable of contributing massively to the task on hand, the landlord ordered his servants to feed him. This took a long time as the man kept on asking for second and third helpings of the food that was being served to him. But finally he pushed his plate aside, belched loudly and went to wash. Then he returned to the site.
Some time later the landlord went to inspect the work and was furious when he saw the simpleton again sitting idly on the log.
“Why aren’t you working!” he roared.
“I would have liked to work,” said the simpleton, rising to his feet. “Indeed I want to work on this noble undertaking. But my stomach is full. Who can work on a full stomach?”