Once upon a time, there lived a great sage named Angirasa. He had many disciples and all of them were considerably benefitted by his wisdom. There were, however, some pious souls, who learned everything faster than the others, and followed his words more closely. They also received respect from other disciples for their pious nature.
Some disciples, however, were dull-witted, and developed jealousy towards those pious ones. They forgot the fact that they alone were at fault for their slow rate of absorption of the Master’s teachings. Instead, they began doubting the Master’s impartiality. They felt that the Master was imparting special knowledge to the pious ones secretly.
So, one day, when the master was alone, they went to him and said, “Oh Master! We feel that you are being unfair to us. We think that you are giving the full benefit of your wisdom to a few chosen ones. Why can’t you extend similar special privileges to us also?”
The Master was slightly taken aback by these words, but calmly replied, “I have treated all of you alike and have never shown any special favors to anyone. If some of you progress fast, it is only due to your own feelings of closeness to my words. Who prevented you from taking more initiative?”
But the disciples were not convinced. Hence after some thought, the master said: “ All right! I will give those of you who complain the special attention you want. But I do have one condition! I will give you a small and simple test – and you must pass it. The test is that you should go to the nearby village, which you often visit, and bring me one good fellow. That’s all!”
The grumbling ones were overjoyed at the fact that the test was so simple, while its reward would be so immense. They selected one among them, who immediately started their search with much enthusiasm, feeling very sure of catching a good fellow. But to his misfortune, wherever he went, and whomever he met, everyone seemed to have some sin or crime to their credit.
After a long and fruitless search, and being completely disappointed, they returned to the Master. Out of frustration, he returned to the group and said, “Oh Master, We are sorry to inform you that there is not a single good person in the whole village. Everyone has committed a bad deed, crime, or sin. The village is full of bad people.”
“Oh, is it so?” said the Master, with mock sorrow. “Now let me see. We will send one of those people that you hold a grouse against.” He then called for one of the pious ones, and said, “Can you go to the village nearby, and find me a bad fellow? Be sure to go to the same village that the others have already visited.”
“I will try with your blessings, Oh Master!” said the pious one, and away he went.
The grumbling disciples were again taken by surprise and said, “Oh Master! This time also you have been unfair to us. The other fellow will surely bring dozens of bad people as the village overflows with them!”
The Master counseled patience. In due course, the pious one returned empty-handed, much to the delight of the grumbling ones. He made obeisance to the Master and said, “Oh Master! I am sorry to disappoint you but I was unable to find a single bad fellow in the entire village.”
The grumbling ones roared in laughter at this statement. The pious one continued, “Everyone seemed to have done one good deed or another. I could not get even a single person who had not done any good deed. Pardon me for my failure.” Saying so, he left the place with permission of the Master.
The Master turned to the shocked and surprised grumbling disciples and said, “My dear disciples! This is where discretion moves between good and evil, right and wrong, positive and negative. Your wisdom blossoms when you find a spark of virtue in everything. The world is a mixture of joy and grief, and your wisdom depends on what you choose to take out of it. People who adopt a positive attitude in life progress fast. But those who adopt a negative attitude can only proceed slowly, if at all.”
“For the Master, everyone is dear and near. It is only the disciple’s fault if he feels distant from him. The closer you feel to an enlightened Master, the greater is your evolution. Let all your actions conform to this basic understanding.”
This story reveals how one should face life and its problems. It also shows, how total surrender to an enlightened spiritual Master helps an individual overcome life’s problems more easily.
– Adapted from More Light on Less Known by Acharya Ratnananda, Volume II, 2000