Small ego, big ego
Once, Krishna pretended he had a headache. His eyes were red, his face swollen; he put on a convincing act. After trying out various remedies, all of them ineffective, Rukmini, his queen, requested Narada to help out. Nothing can cure me, Krishna said to Narada, except the dust from the feet of a true disciple. Narada sprang to his feet and rushed off to the closest Krishna temple to get the cure Krishna had asked for. Narada was disappointed; all of Krishna’s disciples hesitated to offer the dust off their feet as a cure for one whom they looked up to. We are small, low, inferior, they protested, how can we allow you to use the dust off our feet to cure him who we adore.
Narada returned to Krishna with the bad news and Krishna advised him to try asking his gopis in Vrindavan.
`What do they know of bhakti?’ the queen laughed, but Narada left for Vrindavan immediately.
When the gopis heard Krishna was ill, they didn’t hesitate for a moment before brushing the dust off their feet and giving it to Narada. Before Narada could reach Dwarka, Krishna’s headache was gone. `To consider oneself small, low and inferior is also a kind of egoism,’ Krishna said to Narada on his return, `and that is the point I wanted to drive him with this act of mine’.
To condemn oneself is as foolish as it is to praise one’s own self is what Narada and Krishna’s disciples learnt from this charade of his.
Mulla Nasrudin lay under a mulberry tree, looking at some water-melons which were growing nearby.
How is it, he thought, that an impressive tree like this mulberry brings forth such puny little fruits? And then look at the miserable, weakling creeper which produces such huge and delicious melons…As he was pondering the paradox, a mulberry fell and landed on his head.
`I see,’ said Nasrudin, when he reflected on what would have happened to his head if it had been a melon that had fallen instead of a mulberry. `That is the reason…I should have thought of it before.’
Life is precious
One day, a spiritual teacher had a vision in which he saw what he would become in his next life. He called an obedient disciple and asked him, `You have always told me you would do anything for me? Would you really?’
Of course I would, master, the young boy said.
`Do you see that brown pig over there in the distance? In my next life I’m going to be born to her…You will recognize me by a mark on my face…You have to do this for me—when you recognize me, kill me,’ the teacher said. The boy promised him he would.
After the teacher passed away, the brown pig did indeed give birth to four piglets and the young boy who had now grown himself noticed that one of the piglets did have a scar on its face. Eager to carry out his teacher’s wishes, the boy sharpened his knife one day and prepared to kill the piglet. As he picked up the piglet, it started to scream, `Stop, don’t kill me, please don’t…’ Shocked, he looked into the piglet’s eyes and saw pain and the fear of death. `Dont kill me,’ the piglet pleaded, `I want to live on as a pig. When I asked you to dispatch me, I didn’t know what a pig’s life would be like.It’s great. Just let me go.’
—A Bengali folk-tale
You are the sky, you are the earth,
The air, the hours, the sacrificial grain,
You are the water, the sandal paste and flowers:
You are already in everything.
What shall I worship you with?
–Lal Ded, medieval mystic of Kashmir
The deva said:
`What is the sharpest sword?
What is the deadliest poison?
What is the fiercest fire?
What is the darkest night?’
The Blessed One replied:
`A word spoken in wrath is the sharpest sword;
Covetousness is the deadliest poison;
Passion is the fiercest fire;
Ignorance is the darkest night’.
—From The Gospel of Budha by Paul Carus
Gently, gently, O mind, let all befall in time.
The gardener may empty a hundred waterpots,
but will the fruit come before its season?