Monday, October 16, 2023

Giving Thanks for the Difficult Work

A tale paraphrased from "Seva and Sadhana", a lovely essay by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji in the Nov-Dec 2011 issue of Tathaastu:

Once there was a devoted man who spent a great deal of time each day in meditation and prayer.  One day in his meditation he heard God’s voice commanding him. 

“There is a large boulder in the field just opposite your house.  I want you to push that boulder with all your might.”

So the man got up immediately and went into the field.  He pushed and pushed, perspired and perspired, but the boulder did not budge.  Finally, exhausted under the dark sky, he returned home.  The following morning before sunrise, eager to complete the Lord’s bidding, he was out in the field again, pushing and pushing.  Still the huge boulder did not move in inch.  This went on for many days, and then the days became weeks, and the weeks became months.  Still the boulder was firm.

Finally, one day the man collapsed in despair.  He called out loudly, his voice choking with tears.  “My Lord, I have failed You.  You gave me such a simple task and even that I was unable to fulfill.  I am useless and unworthy of Your favor.  Please forgive me.”

The Lord responded lovingly, “My child, I never asked you to move the boulder.  I put it there, and thus I am well aware that it cannot be moved by human might.  All I asked was that you push against it.  In pushing against that boulder for the last several weeks, look at how your arms and legs have strengthened.  Do you see the firm muscles where loose flesh had hung before?  There is a shine to your skin now, strength in your step, firmness and flexibility in your body.  This task was not about moving the rock.  It was about molding you.  If I wanted the rock moved I would have moved it myself.  What I wanted was for you to experience physical labor, for you to feel the sun shine upon your skin, for you to know the fatigue of a hard day’s work and for you to see how much more potential your body has than what you imagined.”

(Previously published 2/21/2013)