Three Men Enter the Forest

The first man entered a forest and thought to himself, “What a great place! I could hang around here all day and no one will find me, nor ask me to do any work”.  So he smoked a cigarette, drank a few sips of beer and, selecting a suitable tree for shade, slept very peacefully for the entire day. The second man wandered into the forest and said to himself, “Wow, what an extraordinary place.  Look at all these nuts and that fresh fruit I could sell! And all this wood can be sold for fuel. I bet those gorgeous flowers could fetch me a dollar or two!”

So he spent all day working hard, collecting wood, fruit and flowers, which he could take to the market.  By the end of the day he was tired and his body ached. Nonetheless, he was encouraged by the thought of all the money he could make by selling these goods at the market.

The third gentleman walked into the forest and thought, “What a peaceful and beautiful place. One can see the hand of God here, in the song of the birds and the beauty of the flowers!” He reflected on the purpose of life and spent his time reading of spiritual matters and meditating on the Lord. That evening he returned home happy and rejuvenated.

Note: This story demonstrates how different people respond to situations according to their conditioning, the three modes of material nature. It illustrates men in the modes of ignorance, passion and goodness. It also illustrates how people see the world differently, through their own mind-set.

The Sadhu’s Blessings

A sadhu and his disciple were passing through a city. “Let us see whether we can make our journey a learning experience,” the teacher said to his disciple. By chance, just as they were walking by the prince of the kingdom was mounting his fine white stallion. “Greetings holy man,” the prince called out. “Please give me your blessings.” Raising his palm, the sadhu replied, “May you live forever.”

 The prince happily galloped off, and the sadhu’s disciple enquired, “Why did you bless him to live forever, master?”

The sadhu answered, “He is now enjoying his life of sense pleasure. However, he hunts animals for sport, so when he dies he’ll suffer for his sin. So it’s best for him to live forever and stay as he is now.”

Later they saw a young student of spiritual science, a brahmachari, dressed in saffron cloth, collecting alms for his teacher. When he saw the sadhu he brought his palms together, offering him respect.

In reply, the sadhu said, “May you die immediately.” Again the disciple queried, “Master, why did you curse him to die?”

The sadhu laughed. “That was not a curse, but a blessing. At present he is pure and sinless. However, if he continues to live his future is uncertain. “Why is that?” the disciple asked.

“Because there is always the danger of falling into worldly ways. But if he dies right now, he will certainly be promoted to the higher worlds.”

As they approached the market place, the disciple had to block his nose. The air was filled with the sickly smell of death wafting from the corpses of skinned animals, cut into pieces and hung on hooks in front of the butcher’s shop.

A red-faced man, the shop owner, called out to the sadhu, “Hello! Any blessings for me today?”

Once again the sadhu raised his palm.  “Yes, I bless you that you neither live nor die.”

The butcher scratched his head and muttered, “What a strange blessing.”

After they left the market place the disciple enquired, “What did you mean by that greeting?”

“Don’t you think the butcher is in a hellish condition right now?” the sadhu asked.  His disciple nodded.

“He has killed so many innocent animals that he will surely go to hell for many thousands of years,” the sadhu explained.  “So he will suffer if he lives or if he dies.”

Next, they passed a temple entrance where a devotee was offering her heartfelt prayers to the Supreme Lord.  She did not even notice the sadhu approaching, but he called out, “May you live or may you die.”

“Let me guess why you said that,” ventured the disciple. “Constantly remembering God, a devotee is always happy.  Therefore, it makes no difference to her whether she lives or dies.  She will go on remembering God in this life and in the next.” Smiling, the sadhu replied, “My disciple, you are learning well.”

The Yogi’s Cloth

A young yogi lived by the side of the river. His life was simple and carefree; he practised yoga almost all day long. Because he had no other responsibilities, he had plenty of time to sit peacefully with closed eyes, his thoughts fixed on the Lord within the heart. This was his daily meditation. One day, after bathing in the river, he washed his only piece of cloth and lay it out on the rocky bank. While waiting for it to dry, a thought crossed his mind, “I am wasting time waiting for this. If I had another piece of cloth I could get dressed right away.”

Just then an old sadhu passed by. This sadhu was able to read the thoughts of others. He stopped and spoke with the young yogi. “My dear son, I know what is on your mind. You want to save time. But rather than collecting more and more possessions, it’s better to be happy with what you have.” He then offered the yogi his blessings and continued his way.

The young yogi pondered the sadhu’s advice, but decided that just one extra cloth was not too much to desire. So he went to the marketplace and bought one. The next day he bathed in the river as usual, washed his cloth, and put it on the rock to dry. Then he put on his nice new cloth and went to perform his meditation.

Later in the day, when he came back, he discovered that a hungry mouse had nibbled holes in his old cloth. At first he was dismayed, but then thought, “I know! I’ll get a cat to chase away the mouse.” He went to the market once again and bought a cat.

He spent the next day very happily and peacefully meditating. But, as evening approached, the cat began to meow, disturbing the yogi. “Oh, he needs milk,” he groaned. And so he reluctantly left for the market again, returning this time with a cow.

The next day was peaceful until the evening when the cow began to moo. “I’m not going to milk it everyday!” thought the yogi. “It takes too much time.”

So he went to the village and asked a young woman to be his wife. She could get milk from the cow to give to the cat who would keep the mouse away from the yogi’s cloth.

And so the yogi was happy –for a while.

One evening his wife complained, “I’m sick of you just meditating all day. I want a home.” So the yogi built a house. But then his wife was lonely and wanted children.

As time went by, the yogi meditated less and less and worried more and more. He was constantly busy looking after his house, his growing family and the animals. Sometimes, when he had a quiet moment, he would reflect on those carefree times when all he had was a single cloth.

One day, he was thinking like this when the old sadhu again passed by. The sadhu smiled and remarked, “I can see you are in a pensive mood, so I will tell you again that it is better to be happy with what you have. Because when it comes to wanting things, there is no end.”

Note: This story is captivating for children, who usually appreciate the plot. However, we should be careful though not to infer that it promotes irresponsible renunciation. Hinduism greatly values the householder ashram. Nonetheless, this story is useful to help us appreciate that obtaining possessions for selfish purposes, even just to avoid inconvenience, often entangles us and make matters worse.

The Creation of the Universe

A Story about Creation..

Long, long ago in the spiritual sky, Lord Vishnu was lying down. He was resting on the great snake called Ananta Sesha. As Lord Vishnu breathed out, all the universes came out of His mouth. They were like thousands of soap bubbles floating in the sky. Lord Vishnu entered into each universe. He filled it with water and layed down there, floating on top.  From His navel, grew a huge, pink lotus flower.  In the petals of that lotus, Lord Brahma, the creator, was born. Brahma woke up and saw only darkness all around him. He prayed to Lord Vishnu within his heart, who then spoke to him, telling him how to create the universe.

First Brahma created the gods who were to run the universe. He made Chandra, the moon god, and Surya, the sun god, and placed them in the heavens to bring night and day. He made the different stars, and sewed them onto the night sky like glittering diamonds. He made the planets, such as Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. He hurled them, like balls, far into space.

Then Brahma made other gods, such as Vayu, the god of wind, Agni, the god of fire, and Varuna, the god of the waters. He made other gods and goddesses who were to fill the universe with living beings. The goddesses gave birth to six types of living beings. First came humans. Some of them, such as the angels, lived in the heavenly worlds and others, like us, on planet earth. Then came the animals, and later the birds. After them, the goddesses gave birth to insects and reptiles, then fish, and finally all kinds of plants. As the gods and goddesses made these different bodies, the god Shiva breathed a soul into every one, to give it life. These souls pass from one body to another, trying to find happiness in this world.  Some of them, when in a human body, look for God and go back to the spiritual world.

After a long time, Brahma will go to sleep and the universe will also sleep. Then he will awake and the universe also wakes up. Finally, after a very long time, when the Lord breathes in, Brahma dies and all the universes are destroyed. But that is not the end. Winter is the end of the year, but spring comes again. In the same way, after the universes are destroyed, Lord Vishnu breathes out and again creates all the universes. This cycle goes on forever, just as one year follows another.