King with four wives

Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.

He also loved his 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.

He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem he could confide in her and she would help him get through the difficult times.

The King’s 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the 1st wife. Although she loved him deeply he hardly ever noticed her.

One day the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, “I now have 4 wives with me, but when I die, I’ll be all alone.”

Thus, he asked the 4th wife, “I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I am dying, will you follow me and keep me company?”

“No way!” replied the 4th wife and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.

The sad King then asked his 3rd wife, “I have loved you all my life now that I’m dying will you follow me and keep me company?”

“No!” she replied “Life is too good! When you die, I am going to remarry!” His heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you’ve always been there for me. When I die will you follow me and keep me company?” “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time!” replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can send you to your grave.” Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.

Then a voice called out: “I’ll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go.”

The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said “I should have taken better care of you when I had the chance!”

In truth, we all have four wives in our lives:

Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort was lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.

Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.

Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.

And our 1st wife is our souloften neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However our identity as a spirit soul is going to be maintained wherever we go, whatever bodies we acquire and whatever destination we achieve. So, we should cultivate, strengthen and cherish this existential reality now.

Lessons from a pencil

1. The pencil teaches you that what is inside is more important than what is outside – in other words, that the soul is more important than the body. When we have a pencil we value the graphite at its center much more than the dead wood that surrounds it. Never forget that you are an eternal soul inhabiting a temporary body, just as the graphite and the message it can create inhabit the wood. 

2. Whenever you make a mistake correct it immediately. Every good pencil has an eraser at the end. Whenever one makes a mistake with one end of the pencil one can immediately erase it with the other end. Learn from the pencil that it is not dishonorable to correct mistakes. No, correcting your mistakes is actually your duty. It should be done as soon as you notice the mistake. Truthfully, it is not only a duty to correct our own mistakes but an honor.

3. Stop from time to time to sharpen your tools, meaning your mind, body, and spirit. Just as a pencil needs to be sharpened, so we need to sharpen ourselves by spiritual practice. Only then can we become one-pointed enough to give full attention to the Lord. 

4. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Learn to make your own contribution in life with joy. Each pencil has its particular line to draw. This line become words – specific words – and these words form a unique story – your story. Never be afraid to draw your specific line, to follow your unique occupational duty (as instructed by your spiritual guide).

5. You may do big things in life, but never forget the hand that guides you. Just as the pencil is never proud, thinking how it has written a book, so we should always give credit to God and strive to become  humble and willing instruments by surrendering to God’s plan. 

Designative conceptions

A religious man was walking across a bridge one day, and he saw a woman standing on the edge, about to jump. He ran over and said: “Stop. Don’t do it.”

“Why shouldn’t I?” she asked.

“Well, there’s so much to live for!”

“Like what?”

“Are you religious?”

She said, “Yes.”

He said, “Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?”

“Christian.”

“Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?”

“Protestant.”

“Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”

“Baptist.”

“Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the
Lord?”

“Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed
Baptist Church of God?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or
Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?”

She said: “Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915.”

He said: “Die, heretic scum,” and pushed her off.

Moral of the story: We are neither Christian, nor Hindu, nor Muslim or  any other designative identifier. We are a part and parcel of one Supreme God. Therefore, to fight with one another on the basis of external religious designation is a sign of bodily concept of life.

What will you do in the kingdom of God?

A four year old child, Peter, has pious parents who live a life of theistic conduct. The child soon picks up all the rituals from his parents. However, growing up in a spiritually-nourishing atmosphere, he soon develops a spirit of inquiry. One day, he approaches his father with an innocent question: “What do you do when you go to the kingdom of God?

The father rendered speechless by the child’s innocent inquiry dismisses the question as mere childish. The child becomes dissatisfied by his father’s response. Being unable to find answers to his questions, he grows up to become an avowed atheist. He becomes absorbed in a materialistic way of life and puts all his energy into amassing wealth. However, Peter soon discovers that no matter how much he is trying to find happiness within his materialistic pursuits, he becomes increasingly dissatisfied. He realizes there is something seriously wrong.

One day, he accidentally contacts a copy of Bhagavad Gita in a public library. The cover picture of the book compels him to open the book and flip through some of its chapters. Intrigued by the details of knowledge on the science of God and His divine energies, he is not able to leave the book aside. He becomes convinced that he is going to find answers to all the unanswered questions which prompted him to become an atheist.

Peter becomes completely satisfied with his findings in relation to his childhood question and develops the following non-sectarian conception of God and His creation:

God is one without a second. All the religious texts refer to the same God who has many names which highlight His particular divine qualities. He resides in His spiritual planet surrounded by His part-and-parcel loving servants, and each of the servants has an inviolable relationship of love with Him. God is eternal, His parts and parcels are eternal and His abode is eternal.

All the living entities within creation are parts and parcels of the same God. They have a unique relationship of service with the Lord. Therefore, devotional service to God is the natural and eternal activity of every soul. Having forgotten this eternal loving relationship with God, we are suffering within this temporary material world, fundamentally because of misidentifying ourselves with the covering of our material body and trying to provide enjoyment to the body while forgetting the natural engagement for the soul.

We all belong to the kingdom of God and we have a specific role to play in our spiritual identity. No sooner do we awaken to this spiritual reality and act on that platform than we can experience a complete spiritual satisfaction – satisfaction on the level of the soul.