Story: The Child who Brought an Open Umbrella for Prayer

The rains failed again that year. It was the third year in succession when there was no rain. The crops had disappeared and the land was a brown swath of dusty rubble. Trees had lost their leaves years ago and stood out like silhouettes of cactus on the dusty horizon. Now the riverbed was dry. There was a famine in the land. People walked around like sticks, sans flesh, surviving on whatever ration was brought to them by trucks, distributed by charities, located in far-away lands.

Desperate for help, the people of the village held a meeting under a big banyan tree that was as old as the village. “Let us pray”, said an elderly man. “Only God can help us now.’ They decided to hold their prayer in the open, late that night, under the open sky, away from the town on a full moon night. The men gathered in a field by the river. As the men formed neat rows for prayer, a child came running from the town, holding high an open umbrella over his head. The men could not but help but turn around and wonder what was going on.  Some were curious; others were annoyed because the umbrella created space between their shoulders where there should be none.

At last, the priest admonished the child. “Why did you bring the umbrella!” “Don’t you see there is no rain and we have come here to pray for rain?  Only a foolish one would stand on a clear night like this with his umbrella open” “Yes”, said the child. “I came to pray too. I am certain my prayer will be answered and it will rain. I have complete faith in God. That is why I brought my umbrella.”

The priest was dumbfounded. Each one looked to his right and his left and then he looked inside his soul for that certainty of faith that was absent. Who was the teacher here and who was the pupil?  If you pray for rain, you must have certainty in your heart that it will rain.

“The mind is restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding; it is as difficult to control it as it is to control the wind.”- Bhagavad Gita Verse 6.34

This story can have different meanings. One of the possible learning is that ‘whatever we think, will come out as it is. The same principle applies to garbage in our minds. We all have certain waste thoughts – stray desires that are utterly unworthy. Such garbage often crowds and clouds our minds. And this garbage tends to grow, not just inside us but also outside us. Filthy thoughts inside us grow till they impel us to filthy actions that only make things worse, sometimes horrifyingly worse.

Garbage that is not cleared often tends to multiply – even if it is kept in a bin, the bin starts stinking or polluting the environment. If we learn to carefully fill our minds with positivity, then negativity gets automatically driven out or kept out.

Example of Computer:

In a computer program, we give step-by-step instructions to get the desired output. Usually, even though the program is written perfectly since the computer just does what is being told in the program, it does not have the intelligence to identify if the user is giving a meaningful input or not. Hence the commonly used term GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) came into vogue. It means that the quality of the output depends on the quality of the input. If we give the right kind of input, then the output will be as expected. But if we give abnormal (Garbage) data as input, then the output will also be Garbage. So, it is up to us to ensure that we know what our goal is and then provide the input accordingly. 

This is the single most important aspect that designs life. We always think about why things are happening this way or that. Sometimes we think that life is favouring us, but at times we think otherwise. The pertinent question is WHY does it happen?

The root cause is what we are taking in every day. It is just like the farmer who is sowing potatoes in his field. The output will be potatoes, even if the present market requirement is for onions. So, it is very important to understand that “what you sow, so shall you reap.

Thus, throughout the day, it is important to comprehend what we are taking in. Let us see a typical scenario of our everyday life.

Garbage In

Starting in the morning on Monday, as soon as we wake up our first reaction is, “Oh shit, it’s Monday again, it sucks.” Then we realize that we had set the alarm for 6:00 am but we have woken at 6.30 am. Another thought comes to mind, “I cannot wake up on time. This has been very common with me for many years, I will not improve.

Then you find that your wife is waking the child and is still struggling. Another thought comes to you, “My kid is just like me, lethargic.”

When you go to freshen up in the bathroom, you do not get the desired results!! Another thought comes, “It’s in my genes. We all have the same problem in the morning.

Somehow you manage to get ready, but you don’t have time for breakfast. You think, let’s skip it today. As you are driving your car to the office on a Monday morning, you find a lot of traffic. By the time you reach it, you have yelled so much at the poor traffic management and how people drive that your energy level is down 50%.

As the day progresses, you have some heated argument with your boss (obviously one-sided), you are cribbing about the whole system of doing your job and the kind of cruelty that bosses exert on their employees. During lunch, your favourite topic is to criticize the organization, bosses, present government and everyone else.

By the time your day ends, your battery is almost dead. You talk to yourself and say, “why did I work like a donkey throughout the day?” After reaching home, apart from yelling again at the traffic and drivers, you also criticize God for the mess in your life.

You sit in front of the TV to have dinner, enjoying the latest political news only to find faults with politicians, moaning about what they should and should not do. Since you are extremely tired, physically and mentally, you tend to relax by drinking alcohol and signing off for the day.

This is the way your day ends. It is important to understand how much garbage was taken in throughout the day and what will happen next: the same story will be repeated and you will think, why does this happen to me only!!    

We often watch horror movies, web series having strong content, TV series like crime petrol etc. and all the inputs gets ingrained in our mind. When our child comes late in the night, we get worried and start thinking all possible negative thoughts. We never think that he/she may be having fun with their friend on the roadside.

Garbage out

So, throughout the day, we take “garbage in”. What will happen to this garbage? It will certainly be processed in our memories and the output will be the same as what we had put in. We keep on adding this garbage every day without realizing the crime we are committing to ourselves.

The next day when the alarm rings, the first thought that crosses our minds is, “oh it’s morning again, I have still not completed my sleep; let me have more time.” By the time you get out of bed, your child is still sleeping. Now, your mind reconfirms the thought, “my kid is lethargic like me.” Once again you are cementing thoughts of negativity. Rushing to the office in traffic and finding a similar situation makes you believe that nothing can be done about the traffic and how people drive.

In the office, too, the boss will ask for some urgent information and your mind will tell you that bosses are always bad and they never try to understand the perspectives of their employees. During lunch, you find everyone cribbing about the performance of the present government and you tend to believe that everything is wrong around you.

As the day ends and you feel fully exhaustive, you recall the same feeling on previous days, the one that says, “am I a donkey?” Reaching home, you again sit in front of the TV, watching crass news on a different channel. Since you are again tired, you want to relax with alcohol as it worked for you the previous night. And so, the saga continues, “garbage in, garbage out”.       

It is very important to understand that this vicious circle is never-ending. Without realizing it, most of us are completely entangled in it. Since we find this pattern in the majority, we tend to realize that it is reality.

But we do take care about thoughts like during examination, we pray to the god, we want our child to eat light, we tell him/her to think positively and take it easy.

Thus, it is important to understand how we can save ourselves from negativity. The more we avoid wrong thoughts from ourselves and others, the better off we will be. The important question is, “what do we do to get rid of the garbage, so we can enjoy the life we want and see it from a positive perspective?”

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