How much time do we have?

How much time do we have?

A saint, begging for alms, landed at the doorstep of a shop which looked very unkempt and asking for major repairs. Despite his poverty the poor shopkeeper warmly welcomed the saint and invited him to stay for the night at the shop keeper’s residence which was close by. The Saint looked at the shop’s condition and wondered what the shop keeper could offer him, after a bit of deliberation; decided to stay for the night.

The house was also in an equally bad shape and yet the shop keeper offered hot food, simple food freshly prepared, and treated the saint with great reverence; to the best of his abilities. The saint was pleased with the shop keeper’s hospitality and wanted to do something, help the shop keeper in some way. And the shopkeeper also wistfully wished for a boon from the saint so that he could say good bye to his bad days.

Thus the next morning just before leaving the saint thanked the host for his benevolence and said, ‘I am very pleased with your service and I really wish to do something fruitful for you. But I myself am so poor that I do not have anything to give you, so what do I offer you in return for your services?’

Shop keeper, ‘My service to you was of my own accord sir; I could do with a boon or two to be able to get rid of my poverty though.’

The saint pulled out a small gold coin from his rag bag and handing it over to the shop keeper said, ‘Okay, this is all I have. This is a magical coin. Any lead / iron substance brought in contact with this turns to Gold. I will come back after 3 months and retrieve my coin. Till then you use it and try to alleviate your poverty.’

The poor guy was overjoyed and profusely thanked the saint. He immediately set off to the largest iron foundry to test the gold coin and thus change his luck. He asked for the cost of a ton!

The price was Rs. 40/ton, the shop keeper felt the price to be beyond his reach and decided to come and check after a few days, maybe by then the price would have dipped. He came back a week later and to his dismay found that the price had further gone up and he again returned disappointed. This continued for a month and then second month also there was no change and the third month went by in the same pattern; the shop keeper was yet to use his magic coin.

On the completion of the appointed tenure the saint was again standing at the doorstep of the shop- keeper. But to his surprise he saw no betterment; rather a further dejected cloud was cast all over the shop. He walked down to the house to check the condition there and to his dismay the house also was further dilapidated and in need of urgent repairs. He began to worry thinking, ‘My magic coin failed to help the poor guy! Did it not work?’ and he called out to the shop keeper.

The shop keeper narrated the whole sequence of the last 3 months and thus his inability to use the coin or rather waiting for an opportune time to use the coin.

The saint put a hand to his head and said, ‘It is destiny that you were not able to use the coin dear. You had 3 months time to change your luck, life and build a fortune for yourself. You did not give it a chance and continued to wait for a better opportunity at an unknown future date. Time and tide wait for no man, you knew I would reclaim the coin in 3 months, yet you failed to put it to good use. Sadly, I will be unable to extend the period for you and I need my coin back’.

Needless to say what the shop keeper felt and it was too late for his realization. Time had slipped through his fingers like grains of sand and he was left in position worse than before.

Opportunity knocks only once in the life of man, the life of a human being itself is a rare gift from God. Human life is given only to those elevated souls who have a craving to realize their true goal and wish to go back to their original abode! One never knows when ‘Yama’ The Lord of Death will come and whisk away the soul from your body, that moment is a mystery to everyone. Today or the present is all we have to learn to live a balanced life and walk towards our true goal, be prepared, fearless when death does come knocking because life’s goal is accomplished and nothing is wanting still.

All the training and education we receive throughout our lives are to sharpen the mind and learn skills to earn more or progress financially. Unfortunately this is only one wing on which life is flying; the other wing is the spiritual wing which belongs to the soul, the seat of the Divine. Parmahamsa Ramakrishna used to say and Swami Vivekananda has often repeated, said “God gave us intelligence to fly high with both wings, to satisfy the goals of life, the material and the spiritual. Use the mind and see the Lord seated in your heart.”  It is a known fact that spiritually wealthy souls are wealthy materially too whereas wealthy souls are always craving for more wealth or die hankering, unhappy and poor.

Gratitude – towards ?

Gratitude – towards ?

One topic amongst the many enlightening talks that Sehra uncle, he comes every year from the States and spreads these pearls of Wisdom, gave was on Gratitude. All the topics are very thought provoking and introspective in nature, and uncle repeatedly encouraged us to listen, mull over and imbibe.

We used to serve snacks and tea during the little recess session that we used to have during those talks. And though the rendezvous always used be at my place any one of the sisters used to go and make tea and offer the light refreshments.  Invariably someone or the other would ask, ‘who made the tea? thank you so much, it is exactly the way I like it !’

Or ‘who made the cake? It is very delicious, thank you.’ one such question popping up was a sure shot. Uncle always used to smile, very differently, as if, I don’t know how to put it in exact words, but the smile used to convey something like, ‘I am surrounded by such simpletons! Or O’ O’ they have once begun thanking one another!’ And I always used to wonder why he used to put up that particular countenance every time we were exchanging thank you!

For almost three or four sessions uncle never voiced anything, the fourth session happened to be on gratitude. Who should we thank? Uncle asked.

We all had our own answers, ‘We thank God, of course.’ This was the common reply.

Then he asked, ‘When should we thank?’

Some of us replied, ‘when HE answers our prayers.’ Or ‘HE has helped us in some way.’ Or ‘HE has protected us, and kept us out of harm’s way.’  

So the next question was, ‘How should we thank?’

Again a few voices said, ‘mm, we pray to HIM and thank HIM, those who worship offer flowers and Prasad or offering as a thank you to GOD’

I think uncle was expecting something more than what some of us had just answered. He smiled and said, ‘Just now you said that you made tea today, yes? And everybody appreciated its taste and thanked you for offering such a refreshing drink. Just ask yourself once again, did you really make the tea all by yourself?’

We all were silent and knew there was more to this than meets the eye! Uncle continued, ‘What all goes into making this tea; Sugar, milk, tea leaves, water and the gas of course to make the tea, yes?’ We all nodded slowly, it was beginning to dawn on us ever so gently.

Uncle, ‘Now, amongst all these ingredients what did you exactly make? Contribute to in making them?’

We kept mum. We had barely thought of this in this dimension! The simplest task like making a tea also involves the effort of so many others! I never brought the milk, I had no role to play in the making of the tea leaves, nor did I have any say in the sugar that went into the tea! I simply put a few ingredients available to me and cooked it on the burner, (the existence of which is again because of someone else) and served! And here we were, lapping up all the Thank you! And gloating about our achievement in making a nice tea!

I mean, how blind or myopic are we! Why are we thanking so singularly? Should we not thank every single person who has contributed in making this tea? And do we thank them? No, we didn’t even acknowledge them till then. The magnitude of it all is a big eye opener and a blow to ones ego. Forget the human being helping each other; we never realize but every single thing in this universe works for us and helps us; the human beings. It is so over whelming and humbling at the same time. If we really want to say thank you, show our gratitude we will never know where to begin! We very courteously thank the cab driver and pay him too for taking us to our destination. He was doing his job and we are paying him for his services done, a thank you is good but we never thank our maid for doing her work well, do we? Why so? We blithely cut trees where we have been seeking shelter and whose fruit we have gorged during the season. We neither thanked the tree nor did we bat an eye lid when we cut it down. Why again?

If we really have to show our gratitude it should towards God who gave us all this, free of cost. We should thank nature for serving us, working for us incessantly without once complaining about the harm we humans have brought to it. We will fall short by a large measure if wish to show our gratitude and try and repay nature and God.

Repaying is very farfetched as of now, at least let us try keeping intact this beautiful world and stop destroying it with our insensitivity and greed; this will a small step towards repaying the immense debt we have upon us.

So, thank the Tea maker and thank God for providing us the Tea!