Blog Archives

Zen Koan #3: Parable of Is That So? – Buddhist Teaching on Achievement

Zen Koan #3: Parable of Is That So? - Buddhist Teaching on Achievement Zen Meditation is arduous. Cogitation sanctions you to optically discern something fresh that you’ve never optically discerned afore or to understand something incipient that you’ve never understood afore. As in actual dreams, these wandering thoughts either are connected with the past, or anticipate the future. At that point, there are no more vexations.

This is not the case for mundane people. In most religions, if you reach a stage where you identify planarity with the macrocosm, it would be considered the ultimate or great harmony. Others honor the rule and refrain from speaking, but that does not mean that they are not talking to themselves. The basic thing is that they find out what their strengths are in body and mind, and how they can follow the precepts. Nor should you be concerned with anything going on inside yourself.

After practicing diligently, you will gradually resolve the problem of doubt. When practice sets in, rather the way weather does, there can be a lot of boredom and feeling clueless, so that cluelessness or plainness is something that always needs to be taken into account. This is for the reason that your mind is divided into two, or even three: a sense of yourself, of your body, and of the pleasure.

Zen Koan: “Is That So?” Parable

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbours as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parent went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbours and everything else he needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”

Buddhist Insight on No Thought of Achievement

If you foster generosity, Zen kindness, awareness, and giving, you will be happy because you’ll learn that it’s pleasant, and the way that karma works is that your world will become more of a steering rather than fear and holding. Within the conventional, relative truth, individual appearances, which accord and do not, are distinguished. Therefore, there isn’t any thought of achievement. Shunryu Suzuki, the Japanese-American Zen monk who helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the United States, writes in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,

In the beginner’s mind there is no thought, “I have attained something.” All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginner’s mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless. Dogen-zenji, the founder of our school, always emphasised how important it is to resume our boundless original mind. Then we are always true to ourselves, in sympathy with all beings, and can actually practice.

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Zen Koan #2: Parable of Finding a Diamond on a Muddy Road – Buddhist Teaching on Creativity

Zen Koan #2: Parable of Finding a Diamond on a Muddy Road - Buddhist Teaching on Creativity Zen is not unique. All forms of Zen Buddhism point to this same authenticity. Zen just uses fewer words in this process. Still, the unfamiliar will take the moon in the dehydrogenate monoxide for the authentic moon and point their finger towards it in vain where others misunderstand the finger for the authentic thing. Sometimes it’s better to verbalize. You have an excess of what you want to be rid of, and a lack of what you want to acquire. Pretending sundry relishes and misprices severs you from the Way.

Consider the story about an inexperienced farmer who planted a field of rice. The more you drive yourself the tenser you will feel. The role of the monitor is that if they see a person sitting in the cave of the devil, in that wonderful space, that peaceful space, they knock them out of it. Thus to say that this principle is not eternal would also be incorrect. When we see the discrepancy between our good intentions and our actions, it motivates us to work with our minds, to work with our habitual reactions and our impatience.

Zen is so strict and austere, yet at the heart of its teaching is spontaneity. In Taoism, there is the verbalization that the one gives elevate to the two, and the two give elevate to the multiplicity of things.

Zen Koan: “Finding a Diamond on a Muddy Road” Parable

Gudo was the emperor’s teacher of his time. Nevertheless, he used to travel alone as a wandering mendicant. Once when he was on his way to Edo, the cultural and political center of the shogunate, he approached a little village named Takenaka. It was evening and a heavy rain was falling. Gudo was thoroughly wet. His straw sandals were in pieces. At a farmhouse near the village he noticed four or five pairs of sandals in the window and decided to buy some dry ones.

The woman who offered him the sandals, seeing how wet he was, invited him in to remain for the night in her home. Gudo accepted, thanking her. He entered and recited a sutra before the family shrine. He was then introduced to the women’s mother, and to her children. Observing that the entire family was depressed, Gudo asked what was wrong.

“My husband is a gambler and a drunkard,” the housewife told him. “When he happens to win he drinks and becomes abusive. When he loses he borrows money from others. Sometimes when he becomes thoroughly drunk he does not come home at all. What can I do?”

“I will help him,” said Gudo. “Here is some money. Get me a gallon of fine wine and something good to eat. Then you may retire. I will meditate before the shrine.”

When the man of the house returned about midnight, quite drunk, he bellowed: “Hey, wife, I am home. Have you something for me to eat?”

“I have something for you,” said Gudo. “I happened to be caught in the rain and your wife kindly asked me to remain here for the night. In return I have bought some wine and fish, so you might as well have them.”

The man was delighted. He drank the wine at once and laid himself down on the floor. Gudo sat in meditation beside him.

In the morning when the husband awoke he had forgotten about the previous night. “Who are you? Where do you come from?” he asked Gudo, who was still meditating.

“I am Gudo of Kyoto and I am going on to Edo,” replied the Zen master.

The man was utterly ashamed. He apologized profusely to the teacher of his emperor.

Gudo smiled. “Everything in this life is impermanent,” he explained. “Life is very brief. If you keep on gambling and drinking, you will have no time left to accomplish anything else, and you will cause your family to suffer too.”

The perception of the husband awoke as if from a dream. “You are right,” he declared. “How can I ever repay you for this wonderful teaching! Let me see you off and carry your things a little way.”

“If you wish,” assented Gudo.

The two started out. After they had gone three miles Gudo told him to return. “Just another five miles,” he begged Gudo. They continued on.

“You may return now,” suggested Gudo.

“After another ten miles,” the man replied.

“Return now,” said Gudo, when the ten miles had been passed.

“I am going to follow you all the rest of my life,” declared the man.

Modern Zen teachings in Japan spring from the lineage of a famous master who was the successor of Gudo. His name was Mu-nan, the man who never turned back.

Buddhist Insight on Creativity: Being and Doing

By the profound interdependence of being and doing, all anger is prompted and polluted by improper conceptuality. It’s that Zen spirit of heartfulness and creativity, of mindfulness that it comes to. However, there are other kinds of happiness that are very unpretentious and really nurturing of spiritual life, that touching them actually gives us the strength to deal with difficulties. The American clinical psychologist John Welwood, who frequently writes about the integration of psychological and spiritual concepts, writes in Ordinary Magic, Everyday Life as Spiritual Path,

The key to everyday life as spiritual practice lies in bringing a full, rich, quality of being and presence into whatever we do. Yet “being” and “doing” often seem mutually exclusive. The cultures of the East have cultivated being for thousands of years, while rarely, until recently, placing as much emphasis on doing. The cultures of the West have been busy doing for thousands of years – building, inventing, conquering the world – while often failing to appreciate that a healthy, fulfilling human life, depends on the quality of one’s being and presence. To find the spiritual path in our daily life, we need to bring being and doing together. This is precisely what happens in creativity, where the beauty that we love can become what we do.

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Zen Koan #1: Parable of A Cup of Tea – Buddhist Teaching on Spiritual Bankruptcy

Zen Koan #1: Parable of A Cup of Tea - Buddhist Teaching on Spiritual Bankruptcy Together with Vedanta Hinduism, Zen is an early and continuing example of the globalization of religion from the East on several levels. The reward body also appears for the sake of sentient beings; for this reason, it is limited in location. The poem encourages us to practice without attachment. It merely reflects whatever you put in front of it, as it is, without hindrance.

Once you narrow yourself down to the mental environment, there are two things you are involved with—the method, and stray thoughts. What is the difference between Buddhahood and enlightenment? Buddhahood is attaining the ultimate, whereas enlightenment is seeing Buddha nature without encompassing it fully. In Japan, it was pellucid that in the lay Zen tradition you donated to the temple, you had your memorial accommodations, you had your family plot, and you fortified the priest.

Meditation decreases experienced stress load and leads to a faster decrease in heart rate after exposure to stressful film clips, but it is not clear whether improved access to unconscious processes is mediating processes. There are sundry levels of coalesced mind—the unity of self and macrocosm, the unity of body and mind, and beyond this, just one mind remaining.

Zen Koan: “A Cup of Tea” Parable

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868–1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Buddhist Insight on Spiritual Bankruptcy

When water is agitated by waves, reflections that may arise are not grasped. A lot of our busyness is because we’re looking for something to fulfill us. This is the root cause of spiritual bankruptcy, according to Zen Buddhism. The charters are different but the practical path towards human liberation touches both. Can you learn the basic precept of transforming your unwanted sufferings into the path of practice? The British Zen Buddhist author and psychotherapist David Brazier writes in The Feeling Buddha,

We all carry hurt within us. It is not possible to have gone through life without getting buffeted. The hurt we carry is fuel. It is one of the essential conditions for a fire. When a person, or a whole community, is spiritually impoverished, this fuel is stored up. It then becomes tinder dry.The potential for fire to get out of control is then great. This is when wars start. I asked an acquaintance from Sarajevo why he thought the civil war there broke out. He said: ‘Boredom.’ He meant that people’s lives had ceased to be purposeful and war gave them a sense of direction. People sometimes fear that religion causes wars but, although religion, patriotism, self-interest, history and many other things may be invoked by war mongers, the real root of war is spiritual bankruptcy.

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Tells Stories: Roundup of Hindu Parables

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886,) the eminent Hindu mystic of 19th-century India, used stories and parables to portray the core elements of his philosophy. The meaning of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s stories and parables are usually not explicitly stated. The meanings are not intended to be mysterious or confidential but are, in contrast, quite uncomplicated and obvious.

In the Hindu and other traditions of the major religions of the world, parables form the language of the wise for enlightening the simple, just as well as they form the language of the simple for enlightening the wise.

Recommended Books

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Tells Stories: Providence & God’s Will or The Parable of Raghuram and Lord Sri Rama’s Will

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886,) the eminent Hindu mystic of 19th-century India, used stories and parables to portray the core elements of his philosophy. The meaning of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s stories and parables are usually not explicitly stated. The meanings are not intended to be mysterious or confidential but are, in contrast, quite uncomplicated and obvious.

In the Hindu and other traditions of the major religions of the world, parables form the language of the wise for enlightening the simple, just as well as they form the language of the simple for enlightening the wise.

The Parable of Raghuram and Lord Sri Rama’s Will

Raghuram was a pious weaver. He was a devotee of Lord Sri Rama. He firmly believed that everything happens by the will of Lord Sri Rama. The sun shines, the rain falls, the wind blows, men walk, and fish swim – all by the will of Lord Sri Rama. If Lord Sri Rama’s will is not there, everything will come to a standstill. This was Raghuram’s strong faith.

Raghuram never forgot Lord Sri Rama. As soon as he got up early in the morning, he would repeat the name of Lord Sri Rama. After bathing, after offering Naivedyam (offering) to Lord Sri Rama, he would take his breakfast saying, “by the will of Lord Sri Rama.” Again, before starting weaving he would take the name of Lord Sri Rama. As he plied the shuttle, weaving the cloth, he would be chanting Lord Sri Rama’s name. He would take the woven clothes to the bazaar for sale. If someone asked him what the price of a particular cloth was he would say, “By the will of Lord Sri Rama, the yarn costs one rupee. By the will of Lord Sri Rama, my labor costs 50 paisa. By the will of Lord Sri Rama, the profit is 25 paisa. So the price of the cloth, by the will of Lord Sri Rama, is rupees1.75.”

Raghuram’s sincerity and simplicity would charm men and women. No one would bargain with him. They would pay him whatever he demanded. They were sure he would never overcharge them or cheat them.

After the sales were over, Raghuram would return home chanting Lord Sri Rama’s name all the way. He would have his food and go to sleep again taking the Lord’s name.

On one hot and humid day, Raghuram thought he would sit in the verandah of his home for some time. He was chanting ‘Ram, Ram’. A gang of robbers passed that way. They had burgled a rich man’s house. They had a big bundle, which contained lots of cash, jewels, and other valuable articles. They saw Raghuram sitting in the verandah. “Here is a hefty fellow. We can make him carry the heavy bundle. They put the bundle on his head and told him, “Walk with us, or else we shall trash you.”

Raghuram, without any protest, went with them carrying the heavy load. He continued chanting ‘Ram, Ram’ all the way. At the end of the street, three police officers were doing their beats. The robbers got frightened. They ran away.

Raghuram was left alone with the bundle on his head. He did not run away. He stood there chanting ‘Ram, Ram’. The police opened the bundle and discovered the loot. They were happy thinking they had caught the robber red-handed. They marched Raghuram to the police station. He was kept in the lock-up that night. Next morning the police produced Raghuram and the bundle before the Magistrate. They charged Raghuram with the robbery.

The news of Raghuram’s robbery charges quickly spread in the village. Men, women, and children rushed to the court in wonder. “How could he commit any robbery?” they speculated.

The Magistrate also had heard of Raghuram. He too could not associate robbery with this peaceful-looking weaver. However, the police had caught him with the bundle. Anyway, the Magistrate pondered, “I will not punish this man until I am sure he has committed the robbery. Let me ask him for his own explanation.”

The Magistrate asked the prisoner, “Tell the court what exactly happened.”

All the while, Raghuram was standing as if he was in another world. His lips were continuously moving, uttering ‘Ram, Ram’. No one who saw his face would think he was a criminal.

Raghuram now turned to the Magistrate and told him in a clear voice. “Your Lordship, by Lord Sri Rama’s will, I was sitting in my verandah. By Lord Sri Rama’s will, some robbers came that way, By Lord Sri Rama’s will, they put their bundle on by head and made me walk with them. By Lord Sri Rama’s will, there were some police officers ahead. By Lord Sri Rama’s will, the robbers ran away. By Lord Sri Rama’s will, the police arrested me, and kept in the lock-up. By Lord Sri Rama’s will, they have produced me before you. By Lord Sri Rama’s will, you want to punish me.”

Tears began to flow down the cheeks of the magistrate. This man was so utterly like a child. He had nothing to hide. He was not calculating or clever in the usual sense. His trust in God was absolute. He must be not punished but worshipped.

The Magistrate said in open court, “I am convinced this man is innocent. I discharge him. Let him be set free.”

Raghuram joined his palms before the Magistrate and told him, “By Lord Sri Rama’s will, you have set me free.”

The huge crowd assembled in the court shouted “Jai Ram, Victory to Lord Sri Rama.” They took him procession back to his home.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once said, “More are the names of God and infinite are the forms through which He may be approached. In whatever name and form you worship Him, through them you will realize Him.”

Recommended Books

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Tells Stories: The Vastness of God’s Creation or the Parable of the Frog in the Well

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886,) the eminent Hindu mystic of 19th-century India, used stories and parables to portray the core elements of his philosophy. The meaning of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s stories and parables are usually not explicitly stated. The meanings are not intended to be mysterious or confidential but are, in contrast, quite uncomplicated and obvious.

In the Hindu and other traditions of the major religions of the world, parables form the language of the wise for enlightening the simple, just as well as they form the language of the simple for enlightening the wise.

The Parable of the Frog in the Well

A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born and brought up there. Moreover, it was a small little frog.

One day another frog that lived in the sea came upon the first frog. The frog of the well asked the newcomer, “Whence are you?”

The frog of the sea replied, “I am from the sea.”

The frog of the well questioned, “The sea! How big is that?”

The frog of the sea said, “It is very big.”

The frog of the well stretched its legs and questioned, “Ah! Is your sea so big?”

The frog of the sea said, “It is much bigger.”

The frog of the well then took a leap from one side of the well to the other and asked, “Is it as big as this, my well?”

“My friend,” said the frog of the sea, “how can you compare the sea with your well?”

The frog of the well asserted, “No, there can never be anything bigger than my well. Indeed, nothing can be bigger than this! This fellow is a liar, he must be turned out.”

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa concluded, “Such is the case with every narrow-minded man. Sitting in his own little well, he thinks that the whole world is no bigger than his well.”

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once said, “If you first fortify yourself with the true knowledge of the Universal Self, and then live in the midst of wealth and worldliness, surely they will in no way affect you.”

Recommended Books

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Tells Stories: Omnipresence or The Parable of Ganesh and the Divine Mother

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886,) the eminent Hindu mystic of 19th-century India, used stories and parables to portray the core elements of his philosophy. The meaning of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s stories and parables are usually not explicitly stated. The meanings are not intended to be mysterious or confidential but are, in contrast, quite uncomplicated and obvious.

In the Hindu and other traditions of the major religions of the world, parables form the language of the wise for enlightening the simple, just as well as they form the language of the simple for enlightening the wise.

Once Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was asked why he did not lead the life of a householder with his wife. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is supposed to have related the following story.

The Parable of Ganesh and the Divine Mother

One day, Lord Ganesh (son of Lord Shiva) happened to scratch a cat with his nail.

Upon returning home, Lord Ganesh observed that there was a mark of a scratch on the cheek of his divine mother, Goddess Parvati. Seeing this Lord Ganesh asked her, “Mother, how did you get this ugly scar on your cheek?”

Goddess Parvati, regarded in Hindu mythology as the Mother of the universe, replied, “This is the work of your hand; it is the scratch of your nail, Ganesh.”

Lord Ganesh asked in wonder, “How is it, Mother? I do not remember to have scratched you at any time.”

The Mother replied, “Darling, have you forgotten the fact of your having scratched a cat, this morning?”

Lord Ganesh said “Yes, I did scratch a cat, but how did your cheek get the scar?”

The Mother replied, “Dear child, nothing exists in this world but me. The whole creation is I; whomsoever you may hurt you only hurt me.”

Lord Ganesh was greatly surprised to hear this and then he determined never to marry. For, whom could he marry? Every woman was mother to him. Realizing thus the motherhood of woman, he gave up marriage.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa concluded, “I am like Lord Ganesh. I consider every woman as my Divine Mother.”

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once said, “A devotee who can call on God while living a householder’s life is a hero indeed. God thinks: ‘He is blessed indeed who prays to me in the midst of his worldly duties. He is trying to find me, overcoming a great obstacle — pushing away, as it were, a huge block of stone weighing a ton. Such a man is a real hero.'”

Recommended Books

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Tells Stories: Thagya and Vairagya or the Parable of Akbar and the Fakir

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886,) the eminent Hindu mystic of 19th-century India, used stories and parables to portray the core elements of his philosophy. The meaning of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s stories and parables are usually not explicitly stated. The meanings are not intended to be mysterious or confidential but are, in contrast, quite uncomplicated and obvious.

In the Hindu and other traditions of the major religions of the world, parables form the language of the wise for enlightening the simple, just as well as they form the language of the simple for enlightening the wise.

The Parable of Akbar and the Fakir

During the reign of the great Mughal emperor Akbar, there lived a Fakir (a Muslim ascetic) in a particular forest near Delhi. Many used to resort to the cottage of this holy man. However, he had nothing to show hospitality to these visitors. He was in need of some money for this purpose and went for help to Akbar Shah, who was well known for his kindness towards holy men.

Akbar Shah was then saying his prayers and the Fakir took his seat in the prayer room. In the course of his prayers, the Fakir heard Akbar ask, “O Lord, do Thou grant me more wealth, more power, more territories!”

At once the Fakir rose and was about to depart from the waiting room when the Emperor beckoned him to be seated again.

At the end of the prayer, Akbar asked the Fakir, “Sir, you came to see me. How is it then that you wanted to depart without saying anything to me?”

The Fakir said, “The purpose of my visit to your Majesty, I need not concern you with that.”

When Akbar repetitively pressed him to say what he wanted, the Fakir at last said, “Your Majesty, many people come to me to be taught, but for want of money I am unable to see to their comforts. So I thought it well to come to your Majesty for help.”

Akbar then asked why he was about to go away without having told him the purpose of his visit.

The Fakir replied, “Why should I go begging to a person who is himself a beggar? I had better beg of the Lord Himself, if indeed it is not possible for me to do without begging altogether.”

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was born Gadadhar Chattopadhyay and initiated a religious school of thought that guided the formation of the Ramakrishna Order of monks that transformed into the Ramakrishna Mission under the leadership of his principle disciple Swami Vivekananda. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa initially attracted several monastic and household disciples as a priest at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once said, “To work without attachment is to work without the expectation of reward or fear of any punishment in this world or the next. Work so done is a means to the end, and God is the end.”

Recommended Books

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Tells Stories: Devotion and Grace or the Parable of Devicharan and Sarvamangala

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886,) the eminent Hindu mystic of 19th-century India, used stories and parables to portray the core elements of his philosophy. The meaning of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s stories and parables are usually not explicitly stated. The meanings are not intended to be mysterious or confidential but are, in contrast, quite uncomplicated and obvious.

In the Hindu and other traditions of the major religions of the world, parables form the language of the wise for enlightening the simple, just as well as they form the language of the simple for enlightening the wise.

The Parable of Devicharan and Sarvamangala

In a village, there once lived a poor Brahmin named Devicharan.

Devicharan was a very good man and he loved the Mother of the universe with all his heart. He worshipped the Mother in the form of Durga.

Very often, people asked Devicharan to go and read to them about the Mother from a book called the Chandi. In return, they gave him gifts of food or clothing. In this way, Devicharan was able to get enough to eat. He lived happily with his wife and daughter, and although they were so poor, they never felt sad.

Devicharan’s daughter was very beautiful and very good. Her name was Sarvamangala. Her parents taught her all they knew and she learned everything very quickly. She worked hard and whatever she did, she did well.

The time came when Sarvamangala was old enough to be married.

“You must look for a husband for your daughter,” Sarvamangala’s mother said to Devicharan. “But who will marry such a poor girl? We have nothing to give her.”

“Do not be anxious, my dear,” Devicharan replied.”

“Our daughter is as beautiful as Lakshmi and as gifted as Saraswati. Where is there a girl as lovely and as brilliant as Sarvamangala?”

“You are right,” agreed his wife. “She is good and beautiful, and skillful in everything she does. Her cooking is excellent. Above all, she loves to make people happy by serving them.”

“So we must not worry, about her marriage,” Devicharan said. “Mother Durga will do everything.”

A few weeks later, a good man who was a landlord paid a visit to the village, and he happened to see Sarvamangala. When he found that she was as good as she was beautiful he wanted her to be married to his son.

Devicharan agreed to this and Sarvamangala was married. She went away to her father-in-law’s house in the next village.

Devicharan and his wife felt sad and lonely, without their daughter, but they were happy that she was no longer poor and had a good husband.

Soon it was the month of the Durga Puja festival.

“Wife,” said Devicharan,” “Mother Durga has blessed our daughter with a good and wealthy husband. This year we must perform Durga Puja in our own house.”

“But, we are so poor” his wife replied. “We have barely enough to eat ourselves, how can we think of-doing the Puja here?”

“What?” cried Devicharan. “Is Durga the Mother of the rich and not of the poor? Will she not accept our humble offerings? We shall offer her whatever we can afford.”

The time of the festival drew near.

“We must bring home the image of the Mother,” Devicharan said to his wife.

“I wish Sarvamangala could come home, too,” his wife replied.

Devicharan took a fifty-paisa coin and went to the image-maker.

“I am going to perform Durga Puja in my house,” Devicharan said. “Please make me a small image of Durga. I shall pay you fifty paisa.”

“Have you lost your senses, Devicharan Babu?” the image-maker replied. “It costs a great deal of money to perform Durga Puja, and even the smallest image costs more than fifty paisa.”

“I have no money,” Devicharan explained, “but I love the Mother and I am grateful to her. I shall perform Durga Puja even if I worship her with nothing but flowers.”

The image-maker looked very surprised, and he became thoughtful.

“I understand your feelings,” he said. “Very well, I shall make an image for you, and you need not pay me for it.”

“I must pay you whatever I can afford,” Devicharan answered, and he made the man accept the fifty paisa.

As Devicharan and his wife prepared for the Puja, their thoughts turned very often to their daughter. Sometimes they wept because they felt so lonely without her.

“She will not be allowed to come to us now,” Devicharan said, “because she will be too busy. In that rich family they will perform Durga Puja in a big way and Sarvamangala will be a great help to them. We shall have to manage without her.”

The next day, however, Devicharan’s wife fell ill.

“What shall we do?” she wept. “Tomorrow the Puja begins, but I am too ill to move from my bed. Who will cook? Who will help us? Oh, Sarvamangala, we need you.”

Devicharan comforted his wife. “Don’t regret,” he said. “I shall go at once and see Sarvamangala. Perhaps her father-in-law will allow her to come, as you are ill.”

Devicharan went to Sarvamangala’s home, but she was not allowed to go back with him.

“I am very sorry,” her father-in-law said to Devicharan, “but my wife just cannot manage without her.”

Feeling sad and worried, Devicharan said good-bye to his daughter, and set out for home. He talked to Mother Durga as he walked along.

“The image-maker has made a beautiful image for me,” he said, “and tomorrow I want to worship you. Now my wife is ill and my daughter cannot come home. What am I to do?”

At that moment, Devicharan heard someone calling him from behind. It seemed to be his daughter’s voice. He stopped and looked back. To his surprise there was Sarvamangala hurrying towards him.

“Wait for me, Father,” Sarvamangala cried, “I am coming home with you.”

“How is it possible for you to come?” cried Devicharan. “What will your mother-in-law say?”

“Do not worry about anything, Father,” Sarvamangala replied. “Everything is arranged. Take me home with you.”

Now Devicharan and his wife were very happy. Their daughter had come home. She seemed more beautiful than ever and her face was bright with joy. She took care of her mother and did all the work of the house.

The same evening Sarvamangala helped her father to dress the image of Durga for the worship, which would begin the next day. The image stood in a decorated shrine and when they had finished they were amazed at its beauty. Sarvamangala’s mother now felt much better and she too praised the image.

“See how beautifully Sarvamangala has dressed the image,” she said. “And see how beautiful Sarvamangala is herself. We have no costly silks and jewels, yet our goddess and our daughter will find no equal anywhere for charm and beauty.”

The first two days of the festival passed happily. Devicharan worshipped Durga and his heart was filled with peace. The third day came, and this was the day when guests should be fed.

“Today we must give a feast to all the neighbors,” Sarvamangala said.

“Are you joking, child?” Devicharan replied. “How is it possible for us to give a feast? We have only a few fruits to offer.” “I am not joking, Father,” Sarvamangala said. “You have worshipped the Mother in your house. The worship will not be complete if you do not give a feast. I am going now to invite all the neighbors.”

Sarvamangala went to the neighbors’ houses. Devicharan prepared for the worship.

“Now that my daughter is married to a rich man’s son,” Devicharan thought, “she thinks” it is easy to give a feast.”

When Sarvamangala returned, Devicharan sat down to worship the goddess. Sarvamangala assisted him. The image seemed to be living and Devicharan’s face shone with joy. The whole room seemed to shine with light from the goddess.

At noon, the neighbors began to arrive. Sarvamangala had invited them all to partake of the fruit offerings made to the Mother.

“Just see what a prank the girl has played,” Devicharan said, feeling very worried.

“We shall look very foolish when they find we have nothing to offer them,” his wife said.

“Now you are both to stop worrying,” Sarvamangala said firmly. “Leave it all to me. I have invited them and I shall give them the offerings.”

Devicharan welcomed all the guests, and then went and sat before the Mother. “Let me not be put to shame, Mother,” he said. He remained sitting before the image for now he was afraid to face the guests.

Sarvamangala asked the guests to sit down, and then she served the fruit that had been offered to Durga during the worship.

“My father is poor,” Sarvamangala said, “so he cannot give you a big feast. It is his good fortune that you have come and request you to partake of these offerings.”

The guests began to eat the fruit.

“What delicious fruit!” they exclaimed. “We have never tasted anything like it. Just a little of it is quite satisfying. This is better than a big feast.”

With great happiness, the guests went home. They showered their good wishes and blessings upon Sarvamangala and her parents.

“Have the guests all gone?” Devicharan asked. “Did they laugh at me or curse me?”

“Nothing of the kind,” Sarvamangala said. “They were all very happy indeed.”

“The strange thing is,” Sarvamangala’s mother said, “half the offerings still remain, yet the guests were completely satisfied.” “It is indeed strange,” Devicharan said. “Mother has blessed us,” he added, and tears of joy flowed down his cheeks.

The following day was the last day of the worship. Devicharan felt sad, for today the Mother would leave his house. He sat before the image, offering the goddess a special dish made of rice, curds, and fruit.

As Devicharan sat there with his eyes closed he did not notice Sarvamangala enter the room. Quietly she began to eat the food that was being offered to the goddess. Then Devicharan opened his eyes. He was shocked to see his daughter eating the offering.

“What are you doing, daughter?” he cried.

Without saying a word, Sarvamangala ran from the room.

Devicharan asked his wife to prepare a fresh offering, and when it was ready, he again sat down to worship the Mother.

Again Sarvamangala crept into the room and ate up the food that was being offered, and again Devicharan asked his wife to prepare some more.

For the third time Sarvamangala crept into the room and ate up all the offering. Now Devicharan felt angry with her.

“What is wrong with you today?” he cried. “Do not spoil my worship again. Go away.”

Sarvamangala went to her mother.

“Father told me to go away, Mother,” she said, “so I am going.”

“Today you will have to go back to your father-in-law’s house, child,” her mother replied, “for the festival is over. When your father has finished the worship he will take you home.”

When Devicharan at last finished the Puja, he went to his wife.

“Where is Sarvamangala?” he asked.

“She was here a short while ago,” his wife replied. “She must be waiting for you to take her home.”

They searched and searched for Sarvamangala, but could not find her anywhere.

“The foolish girl must have gone alone to her father-in-law’s house,” Devicharan said. “I must go and see that she is safe.”

When Devicharan reached the house, he was relieved to see that his daughter was there.

“I scolded you for spoiling the worship,” he said to her. “Is that why you came away alone? Are you very angry with me?”

“What are you talking about, Father?” Sarvamangala replied looking very puzzled.

“Did you not eat up the offering as I was doing the Puja?” Devicharan said. “Did I not scold you?”

“But, Father, I have been here all the time,” Sarvamangala replied. “My father-in-law told you I could not go with you.”

Devicharan was astonished. Then he understood what had happened.

It was Durga herself who had come in the form of his daughter.

“Mother, Mother,” he cried, weeping tears of joy. “You came to me and I did not know you!”

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once said, “I see God walking in every human form. When I meet different people, I say to myself, ‘God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous’.”

Recommended Books

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Tells Stories: Desire and Indulgence or the Parable of the Barber and the Seven Jars of Greed

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886,) the eminent Hindu mystic of 19th-century India, used stories and parables to portray the core elements of his philosophy. The meaning of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s stories and parables are usually not explicitly stated. The meanings are not intended to be mysterious or confidential but are, in contrast, quite uncomplicated and obvious.

In the Hindu and other traditions of the major religions of the world, parables form the language of the wise for enlightening the simple, just as well as they form the language of the simple for enlightening the wise.

The Parable of the Barber and the Seven Jars of Greed

A barber, who was passing under a haunted tree, heard a mysterious voice offer, “Will you accept seven jars full of gold?”

The barber looked around, but could see no one. The offer of seven jars of gold, however, roused his cupidity and he cried aloud, “Yes, I shall accept the seven jars.”

At once came the reply. “Go home; I have carried the jars to your house.”

The barber ran home in hot haste to verify the truth of his strange announcement. And when he entered the house, he saw the jars before him. He opened them and found them all full of gold, except the last one, which was only half-full.

A strong desire now arouse in the mind of the barber to fill the seventh jar also, for without it, his happiness was incomplete.

The barber converted all his ornaments into gold coins and put them into the jar; but the mysterious vessel was as before.

One day he requested the king to increase his pay, saying his income was not sufficient to maintain himself on. Now the barber was a favorite of the king, and as soon as the request was made the king doubled his pay.

All this pay he saved and put into the jar, but the greed jar showed no signs of filling.

At last, he began to live by begging from door to door, and his professional income and the income from begging all went into the insatiable cavity of the mysterious jar.

Months passed, and the condition of the miserable and miserly barber grew worse every day. Seeing his sad plight, the king asked him one day, “When your pay was half of what you now get, you were happy, cheerful, and contented. But with double the pay, I see your morose, careworn and dejected. What is the matter with you? Have you got ‘the seven jars’?”

The barber was taken aback by this question and replied, “Your Majesty, who has informed you of this?”

The king replied, “Don’t you know that these are the signs of the person to whom the Yaksha consigns the seven jars. He offered me also the same jars, but I asked him whether his money might be spent or was merely to be hoarded. No sooner had I asked this question then the Yaksha ran away without any reply. Don’t you know that no one can spend that money? It only brings with it the desire of hoarding. Go at once and return the money.”

The wise king’s words brought the barber to his senses. He returned to the haunted tree and said, “Take back your gold, O Yaksha.”

The Yaksha replied, “All right.” When the barber returned home, he found that the seven jars had vanished and mysteriously as they were brought in, and with it had vanished his life-long savings.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa concluded the story by instilling some wisdom into the hearts and minds of his disciples, “Such is the state of some men in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who do not understand the difference between real expenditure and real income lose all they have.”

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once said, “Rain-water never stands on high ground, but runs down to the lowest level. So also the mercy of God remains in the hearts of the lowly, but drains off from those of the vain and the proud.”

Recommended Books

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion