Ram was doing well in the USA. He earned enough to pay his bills, party on Fridays, and still save some cash. However, the job had become tedious for him. There was too much politics in the office.
“This life is so stressful. Why can’t I have more time for myself? All this success and yet, I can’t truly enjoy living.”he thought.
Coming from an Indian family with spiritual roots, he knew that meditation could be the answer to his troubles. Ram started meditating every morning.
Once during a morning session, Ram felt immense love in his heart. “Oh, Love!” he shouted in joy and fell on his knees to thank God for this divine feeling. Never in his life had he experienced a love so profound.
Although the experience subsided, he developed an intense desire to know the truth. He understood there is much more to life than what meets the eye.
He resigned, packed his bags, and traveled to India. He led a simple life at an ashram in the Himalayas. He learned how to get his food and necessities from the forest while working for the ashram.
Ram wanted to dedicate more time to spiritual practice rather than do chores at the ashram. He left the ashram and started living in the jungles of the Himalayas. He built a small bamboo hut for himself and started intense penance.
Ram still felt dissatisfied as he wanted to give his entire time to his spiritual practice. He always had to look for food and work on other necessities, which took a lot of time.
One day he saw a beautiful yellow sparrow on the tree. The sparrow came, ate some fruit, and flew away.
“I am a devotee of God, am I worse than this sparrow?” he thought. “If God can provide for her, He can surely provide for me. Let Him care for me.”
He took a vow not to collect food and dedicate the extra time to meditation. He had heard many stories that God does everything for His devotees.
He thought, “I am the person who left everything for God, how will He not arrange even food for me?”
The next day he didn’t go to collect food. He sat in meditation and stuck to his vow. Then, the night passed, and then a few days. He survived only on water.
There is a famous saying in India.
Hungry Stomach, you cannot sing praises of the Lord
How long could he meditate with a hungry stomach? But he was the master of fantastic willpower. He didn’t break his vow.
He prayed, “O God, are you so cruel? Won’t you even give food to your devotee?”. He started getting desperate. It became a matter of life and death. He was too weak even to meditate.
The next morning, a Yogi passed from there. He saw Ram’s condition and felt pity. He had fruits that he happily shared with Ram. The whole day, Yogi ensured that Ram got proper care and diet. By evening, Ram was much better.
Yogi asked, “Why did you do this to yourself. You could have gone to the city to get food. You could have surely gone around and found some fruits, at least.”
On this, Ram told him the story of the sparrow. Yogi laughed loudly. Ram could not understand why Yogi was making fun of him.
Ram proudly declared, “You might laugh, but didn’t you eventually come. Didn’t I eventually get food?”
Yogi replied, “You saw the sparrow and took inspiration to wait for food to come to you.
Why couldn’t you notice the tree at that moment that provided food to the sparrow?
Why did you consider yourself like the sparrow but not the tree?
Why can’t you be like that tree which provides for others.”
Silence ensued. Ram could not believe he missed such an obvious point.
Yogi continued, “And what about all the time you lost because of ill health? Didn’t you take a vow to save time for your practice? Haven’t you defeated the primary purpose of the vow itself?”
In a flash, the words of the Yogi dissolved Ram’s ego. His heart opened once again. Ram had tears in his eyes.
He conveyed heartfelt thanks to Yogi. Hereon, he started working diligently and sharing with others while also continuing his practice sincerely.
In time, his meditation flowered into Samadhi — the union with Existence. He shared his newfound wisdom and inner truth with the entire world.
One of the central tenets of his teaching was “Sharing is Love.”
The story teaches us three beautiful lessons.
- Life is all about perception.
Learn to perceive the correct message from any situation. You can grow exponentially by imbibing the right lesson in your life. You can always depend on guidance from a wise friend if you feel stuck.
- There is way more joy in giving and sharing than in taking from others. Work on being interdependent, not dependent.
One of the most beautiful examples of interdependence is plants. They take from nature for need (not greed). Once they bloom, they return selflessly to the ecosystem.
- Genuine compassion is love in action. Sharing and caring is the essence of love.