Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Patient Fisherman Catches the Fish

My love you, my grandsons and granddaughters.
Somewhere nearby there is a good clear pond filled with beautiful lotus flowers. Let’s walk a bit and see if we can find it. Ah, there it is, just beyond the main intersection. All kinds of people come to this pond for all kinds of reasons. Look, some people are fishing. Shall we watch them?

Do you see that fisherman over there casting his line into the clear water? He has already caught two or three fish and is trying to catch some more. The man next to him has snagged his line on a lotus plant. See how he yanks and yanks at the line, trying to free it. Finally he tugs so hard that it breaks. “What the devil!” he shouts. “This lotus plant broke my hook and line!” And he stomps off in anger. He came to catch some fish, but all he caught was a lotus plant. Look, that man over there is casting his line again and again but isn’t catching anything. He too is getting angrier and angrier. The fish are swimming by in every in every direction but they jus aren’t biting. “Oh, you satanic fish!” he yells. “Why won’t you take the bait? Why can’t I catch you? I can’t wait here forever!” He’s making so much noise that he’s scaring the fish. They are swimming off in all directions, and that makes him even angrier. Once again, he casts his line but still the fish won’t come near it. Finally he breaks the rod and throws it in the water, shouting, “You satan! I’ve been wasting my time with you!” And he stomps off in anger, just like the first man.

But look, three other people are still here, trying their luck. Listen to them complaining. “This pond is no good! There aren’t enough fish here and they’re not the right kind. Maybe we should go to the river.” So they also leave, blaming the pond. Now here comes a traveler to fetch some water. But instead of filling his clay pot, he stands on the bank and watches what all the others are doing. “This is terrible!” he complains, “Look at these people! Some are washing their backsides in the pond and others are washing their feet. The water is no good now!” So he stands on the bank, urinates, and leaves with his water pot empty. But look, a man in a carriage has stopped him on the road and asked for some water. “Don’t drink the water in that pond!” the travelers warns, “It’s filthy!” “That may be so,” the man in the carriage argues, “but this is the only water available for the next fifteen miles. People may do all sorts of things that dirty this pond, but somewhere a clear stream must feed into it. Please fetch me some of that water or I will day of thirst.” “No, no!” protest the traveler. “You must not drink that dirty water!” But the man keeps insisting, “Don’t pay attention to what the other do. Just find some clear water and bring it here, or I will die.” Oh no! They’ve started fighting. Look, the water pot has been shattered, and they’re practically killing each other! Finally, beaten and half dead, they both stumble off. Now everyone has gone, except for the first fisherman we saw. He has been sitting there very patiently all this time, casting his line and catching a fish now and then. It looks as if he has caught about twenty fish, while everyone else left empty-handed and angry.

My grandchildren, every day many people come to this pond for different purposes. One comes to pick flowers. Another comes to clean his backside. A few come to fetch water. A cow come and urinates. But do you see how the pond always remains the same, no matter what the people do? The beautiful lotus flowers continue to lie on the clear water, while the fish and other cratures swim about below the surface. Even though each person comes here and acts out the disturbances of his mind, nothing affects the pond. People come to the pond to fulfill some desire, and when they fail, they blame anyone or anything but themselves.

The fisherman whose hook caught on the lotus plant blamed the plant, but it might not have happened if he had been more careful. The traveler who criticized what everyone else was doing, found fault with the pond and left without any water. The man who couldn’t catch anything became furious and blamed the fish. But the one who sat there patiently caught so many fish. Did you watch everything carefully? Was the pond at fault? Were the fish or the lotus plant to blame? No, it was not their fault. Those who were unsuccessful placed the blame elsewhere, but it was really their own carelessness or anger or impatience that kept them from getting what they wanted. Each persons sees his own faults in others. His own ignorant thoughts cause him to attack others. Whatever state or quality he himself possesses, he sees that same state or quality in others and then blames them.

This is the way of the world. But God is not like that, my grandchildren. Just as the pond remains the same no matter what people do, God is unchanging and eternal. For Him there are no separations of color, race, or religion. He is beyond all philosophies and dogmas. He treats all lives alike. His power is perfectly pure. His state is perfectly pure. His qualities, grace, and wisdom, His unity, peace, justice, and equality are all perfectly pure. He is the All-Perfect Purity. He is plenitude and completeness. That is God. Such is His state. If people with religious differences were to come into God’s presence, one would say, “Oh, this is a Hindu god,” and leave. Another would say, “This is a Zoroastrian god,” while another would say, “This is the Christian god,” and still another would say, “This is the God of Islam.” They would all complain, “This person’s devotion is not right, that person’s god is false, and that person is not one of us.” Thus, when each one comes before God, he brings his own qualities and then finds fault with that One Truth. He murders the qualities of love and finds fault with the compassion, unity, peace, justice, and power of God. And even though it is his own actions that are at fault, he scolds God and finds fault with His kingdom. Such people are like the fishermen who blamed the pond.

The difference between God’s kingdom and the kingdom of the world can be seen in the qualities and actions of man. Man cannot understand the kingdom of God unless he acquires the qualities, actions, and unity of God. But instead, man exhibits his own qualities and his own differences in this world. God is not in that state. Even though He dwells within all lives, you will only see Him reflected in one who has purity and good conduct, one who has God’s qualities and compassion and patience. God shines in the heart of such a person. The image of God can be seen in him, even though he remains in the form of man. This is how God does His work and conducts His kingdom. My grandchildren, did you understand everything that happened at the pond? There were eight or ten people who spent their time finding fault and criticizing. Only one man had patience and did his work with care and one-pointedness. Because of these qualities, he was able to catch many fish. The world will always find fault, but the patient man will catch the fish.

My grandchildren, my daughters and sons, my brothers and sisters, it is like this in the world. The one who has patience and contentment will receive whatever he needs in life. The one who surrenders to God and gives praise to God, who acquires wisdom and a loving way, and who has the virtuous qualities of shyness, modesty, reserve, and fear of wrongdoing; the one who has absolute faith, certitude, determination and trust in God – such a one will receive the wealth of God’s grace, His love, His qualities, and His awakened wisdom, His gnanam. He will receive all the wealth of God and live peacefully in both this world and the next. But those who are always impatient and find fault will lose everything. You must think about this.

My grandchildren, do you remember the two men who were fighting? Remember the man in the carriage and the traveler who refused water because he found fault with the pond? Let’s see what has happened to them. Look, their bodies are lying by the side of the road. It looks like they both died of thirst. A third man is lying next to them. He seems to be dying too. His lack of wisdom is destroying him, his arrogance is making him suffer, and his ignorance is killing him. He is crying out for water. Children, the pond cannot come to him, so you must run and get him some water in this piece of broken pot. Ah, look, after drinking just this little bit of water, he is beginning to gather strength. “Who brought this water? Where did you get it? If you brought it from that pond, then it is no good!” he shouts, throwing away both the broken pot and the water. People without wisdom act just like this. As soon as they gain a little strength, their arrogance and ignorance come to life again. Whatever help we give such people will be like poison to them. So we must be very careful. If someone threw a pot at us we could be hurt.

You must understand this and only teach God’s qualities to those who have God’s qualities. Only talk about wisdom to those who can understand it. Remember, my children, all man’s faults are due to his own ignorant actions, to his lack of wisdom. Nothing is God’s fault. Think about this. God is within man and man is within God. He is our Father, the only One worthy of worship. Whoever understands this and performs God’s duty with His qualities and grace will rule in God’s kingdom. May God help you. Amin.

(Come to the Secret Garden. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. The Fellowship Press)

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