The story is told of Ali Hafed, a wealthy ancient Persian who owned much land and many productive fields, orchards, and gardens and had money out at interest. He had a lovely family and at first was contented because he was wealthy, and wealthy because he was contented.
An old priest came to Ali Hafed and told him that if he had a diamond the size of his thumb, he could purchase a dozen farms like his. Ali Hafed said, “Will you tell me where I can find diamonds?”
The priest told him, “If you will find a river that runs over white sands, between high mountains, in those white sands you will always find diamonds.”
“Well,” said Ali Hafed, “I will go.”
So he sold his farm, collected his money that was at interest, and left his family in charge of a neighbor, and away he went in search of diamonds, traveling through many lands in Asia and Europe. After years of searching his money was all spent, and he passed away in rags and wretchedness.
Meanwhile, the man who purchased Ali Hafed’s farm one day led his camel out into the garden to drink, and as the animal put his nose into the shallow waters, the farmer noticed a curious flash of light in the white sands of the stream. Reaching in, he pulled out a black stone containing a strange eye of light. Not long after, the same old priest came to visit Ali Hafed’s successor and found that in the black stone was a diamond. As they rushed out into the garden and stirred up the white sands with their fingers, they came up with many more beautiful, valuable gems. According to the story, this marked the discovery of the diamond mines of Golconda, the most valuable diamond mines in the history of the ancient world.
Had Ali Hafed remained at home and dug in his own cellar, or anywhere in his own fields, rather than traveling in strange lands where he eventually faced starvation and ruin, he would have had “acres of diamonds.” (Story paraphrased from Russell H. Conwell, Acres of Diamonds [Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1960], 10–14.)
We feel only pity for Ali Hafed as we picture him wandering homeless and friendless farther and farther away from the happiness he thought he would find in digging up diamonds in a far-off place. Yet how many times do we look for our happiness at a distance in space or time rather than right now, in our own homes, with our own families and friends? (James E. Faust, Ensign, October 2000, p.2)
I am currently reading a book about an athlete who was on top of his game, perhaps the greatest of all time in his sport. He had and still has everything the world has to offer. When he was 26 years old he was dating a supermodel, he had close to 30 million in the bank, was known all over the world and was the best in his sport- literally on top of the world. Yet he was miserable.
When he was 26 he did an act of selfless service for someone else- and for the first time was excited about the feeling it gave him. All of his self focus had not brought him the happiness he craved… it only made him feel all the more empty inside. For those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are literally sitting on a pile of diamonds. People with millions in the bank and worldwide fame are seeking for the answer to the question that haunts them. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can fill the void in our mortal souls. In many ways we are much like Ali, and it takes prophets who can see to point out the diamonds in our homes, churches and in our souls.
As a teacher for young people in the church, it is my duty to point out the diamond fields in the lives of our youth. Like Ali, they have a tendency to want to go off looking for the river between the two hills when it is in their own backyard. Their parents, scriptures and words of the prophets are diamonds that when studied, will add a dimension of happiness to their lives they never would experience otherwise.