By Anuradha Azeemi
Once upon a time, in a village, a pair of twins was born. They were named, Atman and Aham by their parents. Atman was older to Aham by just two minutes. Despite being identical in looks, they both grew up into two extremely different personalities.
Aham, a constant doer was found busy with one thing or the other at all times. He was very stubborn and ensured he got all that he wanted by crying his eyes out. His parents, who were often tired, pampered him out of his tantrums by giving him whatever he wanted. The more his demands were met within his home, he expected his friends and world at large to also comply with what he wanted. This often resulted in severe fights or he ended up snatching things from others. Some of these fights, he lost and some he won. When he lost he would hit his fist against the walls or himself and express his anger and disappointment.
Atman, on the contrary was different from his brother. He was silent and observant. He loved everyone around him and never once worried about more than the present moment. Everyone around him wondered how he managed to remain so contented and happy? Since he was happy all the time he never was found involved in fights. His parents eventually forgot his existence at times, as he never made his presence felt. He was happy in his corner and enjoyed watching his brother’s antics. He loved sharing and never once demanded for anything.
However, despite their mutually diverse personalities, Atman was very protective about his little brother. When Aham would try to harm his own self over silly demands, Atman would instantly run to his aid and stand by him as his strength. But, despite all the efforts from the parents and brother, Aham never seemed to improve his behavior.
Time passed swiftly and their father was on his deathbed. The father realized he had to do something to transform Aham and with this thought, he called upon both his sons and offered them a plot of land as a gift, which was the only asset that he had accrued in his lifetime. He announced that his only dream and last wish before he surrendered to death, was to see a full harvest on that land.
Moved by the father’s last wish, both the brothers walked to the plot of land and saw that the land had long thorny weeds. The weeds had grown to the height of their chests and it was impossible to gauge what the land looked like until the weed was cleared. They both decided to try weeding out from the two extreme corners and meet up in the center of the land in time. Just as Aham began to try his hands at weeding out the land, a monkey sprung up and mocked at him. Surprisingly the monkey could talk! “You are stupid to even try weeding out this massive land. You can never finish weeding out for over a good decade from now!” the monkey exclaimed.
Aham who himself was doubtful about being able to weed out the thorny weeds, looked at their height in front of him and decided the monkey was right. DOUBTFUL Aham walked up to Atman who was sincerely eliminating the weeds out. He had cleared a good area already. Aham told Atman about the monkey and how they should just give up on trying to weed the land clean. Atman looked up at Aham smiled and continued his work.
The monkey now came up to Aham again and said, “Your brother is a fool. But you look more intelligent than him, listen to me there is a home of snakes a few steps from where you stand. There are about 100 poisonous snakes that will be set free when you weed out the plot. You could get bitten” Aham who was intently listening to the monkey began to shiver in FEAR and lunged towards his brother and began begging him to stop the task and implored that they both run far away from the land right now.
But Atman was determined; he had cleared almost a quarter of the plot of the weeds. The monkey now knew he had won the confidence of Aham and so, slowly moved to sit on to his shoulder and began whispering, “Look at your brother, he is clearing the easier part of the land and you are stuck with the tougher side. I feel PITY for you that you will called incapable.” Aham believing the monkey to be his aid was overcome with ANGER and began abusing his brother and calling him names. He began inviting Atman for a fight. But Atman seemed disinterested. He had now cleared half the land off the weeds whilst Aham did nothing but throw abuses and while away his time with the monkey. Atman just did not respond to any of his brother’s calls and kept steady at his task.
The monkey seeing that its plan was failing, in desperation now began attacking Aham with stones, sticks and then with its nails. Aham was startled at the sudden change in behavior of the monkey and began screaming unable to take the pain of the bruises and scratches on his skin. The monkey was too fast for him. Aham had allowed it to become stronger than him. Through the whole episode, he had fed his share of food to it. He had even offered his share of water. Now he was left with nothing to eat and drink and was weak to fight back. Even a monkey was stronger than him. Tired of fighting Aham fell down unconscious.
Atman completely unaware of what had happened to his brother relentlessly continued weeding out the land. When he had cleared the whole plot, he found his brother lying tired and weak at the edge of the fence. He ran up to him and offered a sip of water. As Aham opened his eyes he could not believe he was standing on a plot completely free of weeds. He asked Atman in astonishment, “What happened to the snakes and the monkey?” Atman smiled and replied, “Until I saw the snakes I did not believe they existed and I was right, there were no snakes. The monkey was afraid only for its survival. It knew it could survive only when it had the weeds and branches of the old tree on this plot of land. When the monkey saw the empty land, he knew it was hopeless and he would perish and so he ran away to find a new home for himself.”
Atman explained further to his brother Aham who was dumb struck, “The first door the monkey opened inside you was ‘DOUBT’, he knew unless the door of doubt is opened a person is fearless. Once the first door is opened it automatically opened the next-door of ‘FEAR’ in you. Without fear one never feels insecure and once you are insecure it was very easy for him to open the next-door inside you ‘SELF PITY’. When one dwells in self-pity one is vulnerable and feels the intense desire to protect oneself and goes into self-defense mode. And then you allowed him access to the forth and most dangerous door of all, ‘ANGER’. In anger one looses one’s balance and energy. When you lost your balance, it was easy for the monkey to overpower you. If you remember not to allow the first door of doubt to open up in you, the rest of the doors will remain shut forever and you will always encounter the strength within you and you will be formidable.”
As realization struck Aham hard, he hugged his brother and thanked him for sharing his wisdom. The incident had changed Aham for good. As they walked back to their father they both knew this time they would ensure he would see a harvest that would bring a sparkle into his eyes.
The characters and elements in the story represent the following,
Aham, is our ego that constantly is in the grip of aggression and greed. It is what opens the doors of doubt and leads us to our weakest selves.
Atman, is our soul that never strays and sticks to its purpose in life, constantly guiding our ego when it strays.
Monkey, represents the thoughts that constantly sway our ego out of the purpose our soul wants us to stick to.
The land, is our mind. To be able to have a fruitful life; one must keep weeding out one’s mind off the distractive thoughts and keep it mind fertile for the seeds of spiritual mentoring.
Weeds, are the denseness of thoughts created by our ego. The height and density is created by the intensity of negativity in our thoughts. The more positive our mind the less the weeds.
Parents, represent life. Life presents us with opportunities, pampers our demands, but also teaches us lessons for reform.
One can be assured of a successful life if one keeps one’s mind free of all negative thoughts and focuses on doing one’s best whilst ignoring the doubts that creep in from time to time.
Keep weeding your land my dear friend,
Empty it for new seeds of light.
What you plant here,
Is what you will harvest in the here after.
Why walk on the path of thorns,
When HE has promised us brooks of milk and honey?