Monday, July 25, 2016

MY BUCKET LIST AND THE SEVEN JARS OF GOLD







Pic.: Avinash Mantri



Many years ago, I had found this story in the book ‘Tales and Parables of Sri. Ramakrishna’ by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. I was a young man in my early twenties then, and I  had just started my teaching career…

Yesterday, I turned 58… My wife and I spent two amazing days in Pune with our son Kenrick and dear friend Dr. Deepak While having our quiet birthday dinner, Dr. Deepak asked me, “So, what is your Bucket List?”

Earlier during the day, I had received a pleasant phone call from Mario. Some thirty-six years ago, one afternoon, I had rung their door-bell when I was looking for a student or two to teach… I was dying to teach… I was full of enthusiasm and I was fearless and shameless about it… So, that day, Mario had opened the door and liked my zest… and got me one of my first students - his brother, Joe. “Gerry, my mom was very fond of you and saw you as one of her own sons,” yesterday Mario reminded me, “It is good to see you continue doing what you always wanted to…and remain simple in life.”

So, around the dinner table at night, when Dr. Deepak casually asked me about my Bucket List… Mario’s phone call reappeared before me… Decades ago, I wanted to fill my ‘bucket’ with only a couple of students to teach and be happy… and, as I kept doing that, there came along students in thousands!

Did my bucket ever get filled? Did I ever feel truly content and happy?

The parable of Paramahamsa - ‘THE SEVEN JARS OF GOLD’ brings a broad smile in my heart…

Hope, you will take this tale as my heart-felt thank-you for the warm birthday wishes you had sent me yesterday… and those who are still sending…




MY BUCKET LIST
AND THE SEVEN JARS OF GOLD


PAST:


There was this barber who served for his King faithfully for many, many years. He was very dedicated to the King, and an extremely honest soul, that the King always loved him. Though poor and had a family to run, this barber never complained about his life and never tried to earn wealth through any unethical means. So, he lived his simple life peacefully, with dignity. 


One late evening, this barber was returning home after his work. On his way, just when he was passing by a haunted tree, he heard this voice:

“Hey you, the poor soul, do you wish to have the seven jars of gold?”


Rattled by what he had just heard, the barber immediately started looking around. 


He saw no one around, except the tree. So, a lot frightened, he shouted, “Who is asking me this?”


“I am Yaksha, my poor friend. I want to know if you wish to have the seven jars of gold.”


“Oh yes, I do,” the poor barbed confessed.


“Then, speed up to your hut, your wish will be fulfilled,” the voice declared.


The barber took to his feet, and, by the time he reached his hut, he was completely out of breath. When he pushed open the door and threw himself in, his heart had already stopped. Behold! Seven huge jars of gold were there right in front of his eyes, and the room was aglow and his heart was pacing! He almost died with disbelief, and ecstasy… This poor soul, this simple barber!


The frenzied barber went close to the jars and started running his hands on each one of them just to feel… Yes, he touched and felt each jar, one by one. When he reached the seventh jar, the ecstasy had already run out of his body and he was in pain!


“Why is this jar only half-filled with gold?” was now the cause of his pain. “Why has Yaksha done this? Why is this jar not full?”


The barber’s face had now fallen, and heart was in distress. “How can I have this jar filled with gold?” he began to be tormented, “How can I be happy and fulfilled?”


He ran inside his hut and gathered whatever little ornaments his poor wife had and poured them in the jar. But, that was hardly enough. The night went in turmoil. “Why is the seventh jar not full? Why had Yaksha been so unkind?”


The next morning, he took whatever money he had at home to the market place. With that money, he bought whatever gold he could fetch… and came home to fill the seventh jar. But, that too was barely enough. 


The barber was a heart-broken soul! “Why is this jar not full? Why am I not blessed with this happiness?”


The barber borrowed money from his friends… bought gold and poured inside the seventh jar… yes, with the hope that the seventh jar would brim with gold and his heart would brim with joy. 


But, no way! The poor soul was a distressed man. “Why is this jar not full? Why am I not joyful?”


The frustration took the barber to the streets. He started begging for money… yes, with the same hope of seeing the seventh jar full of gold and his heart full of happiness. 


But, alas! The seventh jar refused to be full! The barber was desolate with ruin!


Finally, one morning, the barber gathered his courage and went to the King. He demanded for a pay-raise. Now, the King had no issue about that, as he was always happy with his servant’s loyalty and work. So, without any second thought, the King doubled the salary of his loyal barber. With the extra earnings, came extra gold to go in to the seventh jar. But, where would that jar obey?


There was no way left… The barber was a disaster to behold!


Then, one afternoon, while passing through his corridors, the King’s eyes fell on the miserable barber. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Shocked, the King asked his savant, “What have done to yourself, my loyal savant?” He continued, “You have been serving me for years with half of your present earnings; still, I have never witnessed this sort of condition. Tell me, what is wrong? Why are you so distressed?”


Then, something suddenly struck His Majesty He looked at his soul-wrenched servant and asked firmly, “Tell me. By any chance, did Yaksha offer you the seven jars of gold?”


The barber was so petrified on hearing this question from his Master, that he began to sob loudly and uncontrollably.


The King’s fear had come true. “Fool, many years ago, Yaksha had asked me the same question when I was passing by that haunted tree,” the King said to his barber, "But, I had replied saying that I would have them only if I could ENJOY them… I had left Yaksha alone!” 


After that, with all his mercy, the benevolent King lifted his barber’s fallen face and counseled, “My beloved soul, right away take those seven jars of gold back and throw them before the haunted tree.”

The barber did… The jar inside was full, all over again!


PRESENT:

There is this barber who serves for his King faithfully for many, many years. He is very dedicated to the King, and an extremely honest soul, that the King always loves him. Though poor and has a family to run, this barber never complains about his life and never tries to earn wealth through any unethical means. So, he lives his simple life peacefully, with dignity. 


One late evening, this barber is returning home after his work. On his way, just when he is passing by a haunted tree, he hears this voice:

“Hey you, the poor soul, do you wish to have the seven jars of gold?”


Rattled by what he has just heard, the barber immediately starts looking around. 


He sees no one around, except the tree. So, a lot frightened, he shouts, “Who is asking me this?”


“I am Yaksha, my poor friend. I want to know if you wish to have the seven jars of gold.”


“Oh yes, I do,” the poor barbed confesses.


“Then, speed up to your hut, your wish will be fulfilled,” the voice declares.


The barber takes to his feet, and, by the time he reaches his hut, he is completely out of breath. When he pushes open the door and throws himself in, his heart has already stopped. Behold! Seven huge jars of gold are there right in front of his eyes, and the room is aglow and his heart is pacing! He almost dies with disbelief, and ecstasy… This poor soul, this simple barber!


The frenzied barber goes close to the jars and starts running his hands on each one of them just to feel… Yes, he touches and feels each jar, one by one. When he reaches the seventh jar, the ecstasy has already run out of his body and he is in pain!


“Why is this jar only half-filled with gold?” is now the cause of his pain. “Why has Yaksha done this? Why is this jar not full?”


The barber’s face has now fallen, and heart is in distress. “How can I have this jar filled with gold?” he begins to be tormented, “How can I be happy and fulfilled?”


He runs inside his hut and gathers whatever little ornaments his poor wife has and pours them in the jar. But, that is hardly enough. The night goes in turmoil. “Why is the seventh jar not full? Why has Yaksha been so unkind?”


The next morning, he takes whatever money he has at home to the market place. With that money, he buys whatever gold he can fetch… and comes home to fill the seventh jar. But, that too is barely enough. 


The barber is a heart-broken soul! “Why is this jar not full? Why am I not blessed with this happiness?”


The barber borrows money from his friends… buys gold and pours inside the seventh jar… yes, with the hope that the seventh jar will brim with gold and his heart will brim with joy. 


But, no way! The poor soul is a distressed man. “Why is this jar not full? Why am I not joyful?”


The frustration takes the barber to the streets. He starts begging for money… yes, with the same hope of seeing the seventh jar full of gold and his heart full of happiness. 


But, alas! The seventh jar refuses to be full! The barber is desolate with ruin!


Finally, one morning, the barber gathers his courage and goes to the King. He demands for a pay-raise. Now, the King has no issue about that, as he is always happy with his servant’s loyalty and work. So, without any second thought, the King doubles the salary of his loyal barber. With the extra earnings, comes extra gold to go in to the seventh jar. But, where will that jar obey?


There is no way left… The barber is a disaster to behold!


Then, one afternoon, while passing through his corridors, the King’s eyes fall on the miserable barber. He cannot believe his eyes. Shocked, the King asks his savant, “What have done to yourself, my loyal savant?” He continues, “You have been serving me for years with half of your present earnings; still, I have never witnessed this sort of condition. Tell me, what is wrong? Why are you so distressed?”


Then, something suddenly strikes His Majesty He looks at his soul-wrenched servant and asks firmly, “Tell me. By any chance, did Yaksha offer you the seven jars of gold?”


The barber is so petrified on hearing this question from his Master, that he begins to sob loudly and uncontrollably.


The King’s fear has come true. “Fool, many years ago, Yaksha had asked me the same question when I was passing by that haunted tree,” the King says to his barber, "But, I had replied saying that I would have them only if I could ENJOY them… I had left Yaksha alone!” 


After that, with all his mercy, the benevolent King lifts his barber’s fallen face and counsels, “My beloved soul, right away take those seven jars of gold back and throw them before the haunted tree.”

The barber does… The jar inside is full, all over again!



GERALD D’CUNHA

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