A Master had come to a particular village. People got attracted to him of their own as usual. Not only did the villagers come to him for his blessings, but also some of them chose to live with him, serve him and become his disciples. After a few years, Master decided that his work with the village was over; that he needed to leave the village. So he instructed his disciples to go back into the world and to practice all the things that he taught them while living a worldly life. He encouraged them to meditate on God, repeat God’s name, practice detachment, be honest in work, love everyone and everything, and be resigned to God’s Will in every situation. Although all the disciples agreed to obey the Master, one of them insisted on accompanying the Master rather than obeying him.
The Master knew that the disciple was a better off living in the world and pursuing God rather than accompanying him and told him so. The disciple thought the Master was making excuses and kept insisting that he was sincere in his longing to accompany the Master. Finally the Master agreed, but put a condition as a test to live in a hut on the bank of a nearby river and wait for him to come back, which he would do after two years. During this time the disciple was to lead a simple life of a mendicant, beg for food and carry on with the practices and meditation taught by the Master.
With this, this Master set off on his journey, blessing the disciple. The disciple built a small hut near the river bank and sincerely started the task given to him by his Master. He got up early in the morning and recitation of prayers. He removed his dhoti (A fine cotton material covering his lower torso), put it on the bank and walked into the river.”
In the rural India, It is practice that holy people get up before sun rise, bathe in the river and as the sun rises, they stand in the water, cupping their hands and lift the water in a gesture of offering to the sun, all the while reciting mantras or prayers. This disciple, too, was following a similar practice. After finishing his prayers, he felt happy and walked towards the bank to collect his dhoti. As he bent to collect it, he noticed holes in tit as if some animal had chewed it. He wondered what has happened.
The next day, again as he finished his morning prayers and returned to collect his dhoti in a blissful mood, he noticed that there were more holes chewed in it in a similar pattern. This disturbed him so, on the third day, as he recited the prayers he kept a watchful eye on his dhoti. The disciple noticed a rat chewing on his dhoti, so he ran towards the bank, leaving his prayers unfinished to chase the rat away.
Next day, the disciple brings a cat to keep the rat away and ties it near the his dhoti to keep watch. That morning the disciple is able to recite his prayers with complete focus. He was happy to return to the bank to find his dhoti intact. However as the day progresses, the cat gets hungry and starts crying. The disciples get annoyed because it is disturbing his meditation. So when he goes into town to beg for his food, he also begs for some milk for his cat.
As the days go by, he finds it hard to get milk for the cat and so he decides to keep a cow. That way not only will the cat get milk each day, but he could partake of it as well. The disciple now continues with his morning prayers and tries to spend the rest of the day meditating on God. However, as time passes, he realises that a large part of his time is utilized in washing, milking and feeding hay to cow, leaving him with little time to meditate.
So he decides to recruit someone to take care of the cow. Now the disciple has to take care of the needs of the person he has hired and has to beg for two. Although he managed well for few days, it became difficult. So he decides that it would be easier for him to cultivate food on his own with help of his worker and, in this way, he would not have to beg for food. Once they became self sufficient, he would be able to meditate without further disturbance.
The mind kept fooling the disciple and getting involved in new situations. As the work load increased, the disciple recruits more workers. The food, after being harvested, needs to be stored and protected, so he had to build a shed. To raise money for the shed, he sold the excess food in the market and so on. In two years time, the disciple now owned a huge farm, with several workers and a nice palatial house with servants and vehicles.
As promised, the Master returned to the bank of the river looking for his disciple and the small hut he had left him in. Unable to find his disciple, on the hut, he inquired with passerby, but none seem to know such person. After repeated inquiries, someone told the Master about this wealthy man who comes early in the morning with his cat to the river bank to offer prayers. He seemed to fit the description of the disciple, except that he lived in a palatial house and not in the hut.
The next morning the Master went to the bank of river and noticed this wealthy man walking down towards the river with cat. He did not recognize him, but the disciple, on seeing his Master, ran and fell on his feet. On getting up he looked at the surprised expression on his Master’s face and asked “don’t you recognize me? You left me at the bank of this river two years ego.
“Yes, I recognize you now, but what happened to you? Where had the hut gone and what about the simple clothing you used to wear?
The disciple explained the sequence of events; how one thing led to another and how, now he had the responsibility of looking after his workers who took care of his farm which produced food for him and his cow so that the cat could be fed the milk in order that it would protect his dhoti from the rat so that he could pray peacefully.
“And what about rest of the day,” the Master asked. “Do you meditate on God?”
“How can I do that when I have so many responsibilities?” the disciple protested.
At this, the Master remarked, “I had wanted you that worldly life was the best path for you and not a life of renunciation.”
The disciple knew the Master was right, but also did not know what else he could have done under circumstances. So he asked the Master, “What should I have done? Where did I fail?”
The Master replied, “It was your attachment to your dhoti that took you away from God. When the rat ate your dhoti you should have given up wearing dhoti and focussed on him. Why did you not give up wearing dhoti? Had you done that the matter would have ended then and there? Your attachment created a desire to protect your dhoti and from this small seed of desire grew a whole big tree of desire. You have to be desireless to walk on the path.”
With this the Master blessed the disciple to continue to live the worldly life and remember the Lord.”
In Eruch words:
Be careful of how the mind tricks even one is sincerely attempting to walk on the path to God. It is not easy task. It requires great daring where one has to prepare to renounce everything at His stake. One has to be prepared to become completely naked, if necessary, for His sake and have no worldly attachments.