We are all attached to many things – our books, clothes, jewellery, car, home, friends, relatives, power, property, name, fame etc. This list is endless. When there is attachment to anything, it creates many stresses. We worry about someone else stealing it or damaging it, we dislike that anyone has a better item than us and we wish to always touch and behold the object of our desire. When we are in such a state of mind, it is not possible to empty the mind of negative thoughts and meditate. We are unable to have sufficient detachment to rise above our minds. Such attachment becomes a major hindrance in our path of enlightenment. The following story is about a poor wise man who had nothing but a shovel and yet was unsuccessful in meditation due to his attachment to his single possession:
A boy was born in a family of gardeners. They were poor and just able to manage a living by selling what they grew on the little patch of land they had. When the boy grew up, it was his turn to work on the land and grow herbs, vegetables and fruits. He had inherited a shovel which was his sole possession. He used to clear the land and grow produce. He sold them and took care of himself and his family. He spent any extra time he had in remembering God and meditating. He grew wiser as the years passed by and used his shovel as his walking stick. He was called the ‘Shovel Wise Man’.
The urge to meditate more grew strong in him. So the wise gardener hid his sole possession – his shovel- and went to the forest to meditate. Though he tried very hard to focus on God, his thoughts kept returning to his sole possession. He was worried that someone would locate it and steal it. Finally he gave up the idea of meditation in the forest and went back and got his shovel and started gardening. After some time of mundane life, the driving desire to give up all and get back to meditation became strong. So he hid his shovel and went to the forest. And again he could not get the thoughts of his shovel from his mind. So he became a gardener again. This happened several times.
The wise gardener finally realized that his problem was the attachment to his old worn out shovel. So he took his shovel to the riverbank, closed his eyes and threw it into the river so that he would not be able to locate where it had fallen. Then he shouted in triumph: I have conquered, I have conquered, I have conquered. At that time, the King of Benaras was bathing in the same river. He had just returned victoriously from subduing a revolt. Hearing the shouts of victory, he sent his minister to find out who it was. Seeing the Shovel Wise Man, he asked him: I am a conqueror as I won a battle. Whom did you conquer?
The wise gardener replied: My Lord, your victory is meaningless as it is defeat of an external enemy. The real victory is in defeating the mind and getting rid of unwholesome thoughts and desires. I have conquered the craving of my mind and won that battle. As he spoke, he focused his mind on the water in the river and reached a high mental state. He levitated in the air and spoke out: True victory lies in defeating the enemies within self and in your own mind.
While the King listened to him, he could feel all evil thoughts leave his mind and was very peaceful. So he followed the wise gardener to the Himalayas where the wise man wished to practice meditation. The ministers and the army of the King also followed the wise man. The news reached the city of Benaras and many people also gave up all their attachments and possessions and went to the Himalayas to meditate and attain enlightenment.
The wise man taught everyone the holy states of mind: loving kindness, tender affection for all; the feeling of sympathy and pity for the suffering; feeling joyful at the happiness of others and the balanced calm state in face of trouble and difficulties. All those who came with him attained high mental states over a period of time.
Nothing could have been possible if the wise gardener had not given up the attachment to his one single possession. We all have our own shovels. It can be anything which we are possessive about – our name, fame, children, possession, wealth, looks etc. We must give up our attachment so that we can get rid of unwholesome thoughts in our mind and tensions connected to that object. Only then it is possible to reach high mental states and finally enlightenment. Let us do the SitaRam mantra, meditation and follow the teachings of the Guru and get rid of all the attachments and other vices of our mind.