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Behind Jealousy and Hatred is Egoism

There was a devout religious man who took great joy in cultivating a garden full of beautiful flowers and fruits. Even though he was steeped in spiritual knowledge, he had developed a strong touch of egoism within him. The moment egoism developed, jealousy also entered. When egoism and jealousy make their appearance, hatred automatically joins them. God took a personal interest in this errant devotee. God saw that this person, although he had all the proper religious outer trappings, had nevertheless, filled his heart with poison. God decided to correct him by teaching him a lesson. The Lord manifested himself in the form of an old mendicant and took a stroll by that garden.

The old mendicant went to a recently planted tree and greatly extolled the beauty of that tree. Noticing the garden owner nearby he asked him, "Who is the gardener responsible for cultivating such a fine tree?" The proud owner puffed himself up and said, "Sir, it is I who have brought up this entire garden. I grew this tree and I raised all the other trees that you see here, as well. By my own efforts I developed all these pleasing paths and made this beautiful garden. I alone look after everything here. There is no hired gardener. I am the one who draws the water. I spread the manure. I pull the weeds and I remove the pests. I clean the paths. I am developing these beautiful flowers and fruits, doing all these things for the sake of giving joy to others." In this way he went on repeating I... I... I.

Appearing to appreciate the beauty of the garden, the old mendicant continued to dwell there for awhile, while the owner busied himself nearby, grooming his garden. After some time the mendicant left. A little bit later a cow entered the garden. She was so weak that she was about to fall and destroy the plants that were there under her body. The owner of the garden saw that this cow was about to spoil his beautiful garden. So he took a small stick and threw it at the cow to chase her out. But the moment the stick touched the cow, the cow fell down and died. Now, in his religion, cows are considered very sacred, and should never be molested or harmed. Having thrown the stick from which the cow dropped dead, he would now have to suffer the great sin of killing a cow. He was aghast at this terrible turn of events.

It was not very long afterwards that the same old mendicant came back into the garden. Walking along the path where the cow had strayed, he saw the dead cow and was shocked. He sought out the owner and urged him to quickly come to the spot. The mendicant asked, "Who killed this cow? Who committed this outrage?" When the owner did not answer immediately, the old mendicant asked more directly, "Tell me, do you know who killed this cow?" The owner replied, "Surely it was the will of God. Without the will of the Lord, would she have died just like that? Unless she was meant to die, would she fall down and expire just because a little stick touched her?"

The moment the old mendicant heard this he told the man, "Previously you told me how it was you alone who was responsible for raising this whole garden, how you alone planted and nurtured all these plants and put in all the paths. You were taking credit for all the good things that have happened here. But for anything that is wrong and inauspicious you put the blame on God. You are an arrogant, self-serving fool, so puffed up with your own importance that you won't even acknowledge the Creator's hand in bringing forth all the beauty that is here. You are taking credit for that which belongs to God. You are even jealous of God. If not for the will of God, there would be nothing in your garden."

At this point, the old mendicant revealed his true identity. He said, "I am the Lord himself. I have come to destroy your egoism." The erring devotee fell at the Lord's feet in contrition. The devotee realized how ego had stolen into him, had gained a foothold, and then had completely taken him over. Now, he understood the deeper meaning of the spiritual teachings that he had been mouthing for so long. He realized that everything is imbued with the divinity, and therefore, he should see the divinity everywhere and live his life with the knowledge that down to the minutest detail, everything is under the control of the divinity.