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Posted on: May 20, 2016
A young man once travelled by foot from his hometown to another town on some work. On the way, he met an old man who joined him on his voyage. As they walked together, the old man saw a tree and stopped.
The young man asked him, “Sir! Is the tree speaking to you?”
The old man said, “There appears to be a big honeycomb on the tree, which seems to be a burden to it. Why don't you help the tree by climbing and removing the honeycomb?”
The young man at once excused himself saying, “I have some urgent work in the next town and so, I can't stop. Please, let us move on.”
A third man who had been listening to this dialogue came up to the old man and said, “I will relieve the tree of its burden.” The old man smiled and continued on his way with the traveller.
Within a few moments, the third man came running up to the old man and exclaimed, “Sir, please listen to what I have to say! I removed the honeycomb from the tree with the thought of relieving the tree of its burden, as you had requested. Now I discovered that it contains a special kind of honey. If I sell this in the market, I will earn a lot of money. Please accept my gratitude.”
After covering some more distance in their journey, the old man said to the young traveller, “I feel tired. Can we rest for some time?”
Both lay down under a tree. The old man put his ear to the ground and seemed to listen to something. The young traveller asked, “Sir, does this tree also talk?”
The old man said, “The ants are talking to me. They say that they have been digging a hole in the earth to live. Something seems to be blocking their way. They are unable to dig further and they need help. Son! You are young. Why don't you help them?”
The young traveller once again offered the same excuse, “I am going on some urgent work. Come, let us continue with our journey.”
A man who had been listening to this conversation between the old man and the young traveller decided to help the ants. He dug the earth and found a stone blocking the way. Under it, he found a gold vessel filled with gold coins.
He instantly came running to the old man and said, “Sir! When you left the place, I thought of helping the poor ants. I dug the earth only to remove that stone but below it I saw a treasure! For a person like me who has been suffering from poverty, this is a great blessing indeed!” He then fell at the old man's feet in gratitude.
As the traveller and the old man continued on their way, they came across a river. When they were crossing it in a boat, they found a fish jumping about in the water. Looking at it, the young traveller asked the old man, “Sir! Are you now talking to the fish?”
The old man said, “Yes! A thorn has pricked its mouth. It is requesting us to remove the thorn. Will you do it?”
Yet again, the young traveller said, “I am on some urgent work. I cannot do this. Let us continue with our journey please.”
Speaking thus, the young traveller got down from the boat and helped the old man to get down. They then proceeded to the next village.
The boatman who had heard their talk decided to help the fish. He caught the fish and removed the thorn from its mouth. As he did so, he found a gem in its mouth. Rowing the boat to the shore, he rushed to the old man and fell at his feet and said, “Sir! When I desired to help the fish and removed the thorn, I found a costly gem in its mouth. I am so grateful to you!”
The old man stopped after walking a while. He said to the young traveller, “This rock is talking to me. It is uncomfortable in its place. It requests to be moved away a little.”
The young traveller thought, “I have been refusing all the work that the old man has been requesting me to do. But, someone else did the work and reaped great benefit. I must now do what he requests, even if my work gets delayed a little. I must somehow receive the benefit accruing from this act.”
Thinking thus, the young traveller gathered all his might and moved the rock.
But, there was no gem or treasure there. He was mightily disappointed. He at once asked the old man, “The others reaped some benefit by performing the work as requested by you. Why have I not reaped any benefit? Have I not rendered help to this rock?”
The old man explained, “The others performed the work with the only aim of rendering help. Since they did not seek any benefit out of it, they benefited. But, you performed this act only with the expectation of some return. You have therefore not reaped any benefit.”
What a profound message! On one occasion, Bhagawan explained how one should serve others. He said, “No benefit accrues from rendering service devoid of love. Do not expect any returns for your acts of service. The satisfaction that you derive from rendering service is itself a reward.”
When we implicitly follow this teaching, the joy we get is immense. And we can be sure of a lovely surprise blessing that the Lord will confer in His time.
Mr. Mayur Pandya, a former student of Swami's institute in Brindavan, had a wonderful experience that taught him this valuable lesson. Once, Mr. Ramabrahmam, the then caretaker of the Brindavan ashram (Bhagawan's ashram in Bangalore), had some ailment and seeing him suffer, brother Mayur empathised with him. He silently prayed to Bhagawan to relieve him of the pain.
A few days later, Bhagawan spoke to brother Mayur and told him to accompany the elderly devotee on his visit to a doctor in Bangalore. Mayur immediately agreed, for he was glad to render service. When they returned, Bhagawan enquired with him in detail about this visit and then blessed him with Padanamaskar but in a most unusual way.
Bhagawan raised His feet very deftly such that Mayur's hands landed on the cushion instead of His feet. Bhagawan then put His feet over Mayur's hands! Bhagawan's robe automatically covered His feet and so, nobody could see where Mayur's hands were. Bhagawan kept pressing His feet in this manner for nearly four to five minutes.
Then, He suddenly said, “Eh, Mayur, get up, get up”, and joked with the warden saying that Mayur had gone to sleep!
Brother Mayur was absolutely overwhelmed at this special blessing. He realised that his empathy for Mr. Ramabrahmam and his spirit of rendering service to him had pleased Bhagawan so much and this was His way of blessing Mayur and acknowledging it.
Let us also never expect anything in return for the service we do unto others. The joy we derive from the act is reward enough, isn't it? The Lord will confer His reward in His inimitable way in His own time. A service that is not selfless is no service at all.
- Illustrations Ms. Lyn Kriegler (New Zealand)
Radio Sai Team
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