Children, victory and defeat are part and parcel of life. It is not possible to have a life with successes alone or a life with failures alone. Life is a mix of both. Therefore, we must not get overly euphoric when we succeed, or sink like a capsizing ship when we fail. We must be able to accept both success and defeat as prasad.
When we receive prasad from the temple, we might find an ant or a stone in it. If we do, we just remove it and eat the prasad with reverence. In the same way, we must be able to accept all situations with prasada-buddhi, the attitude of receiving everything as a gift from God.
There was a laundryman living with his wife and son. The laundryman would carry on his head the clothes that needed to be washed and the washed clothes to be delivered to the houses.
As days passed, he grew older and became too weak to carry the clothes on his head. He decided to buy a donkey to carry the clothes. When he checked his total savings, he found that he had just enough money to buy a donkey.
One morning, the laundry man and his son set off to buy the donkey. At the same time, the wife went to the neighbouring village to see her relatives. In order to reach the place where the donkey was being sold, the laundryman and his son had to cross two or three villages. By the time they bought the donkey, it was past noon. After buying a glass-covered picture of the Lord for his prayer room, the man and his son set off for home. As it was late and as he had not eaten anything, the son became very tired. The laundryman tied the donkey to a wayside post. After spreading a towel in the shade of a nearby tree and asking his son to lie down on it, he left to find an inn close by from where he could buy some food for his son. Owing to fatigue, the son fell asleep at once.
When the laundryman returned after buying food, he saw only his sleeping son, not the donkey. Thieves had stolen it, for which he had spent all his savings. As the son was asleep, he had not noticed the theft. When he learnt about it, he felt greatly distressed. Father and son started searching the whole place. They asked everyone they met about the donkey. None had seen it. They searched many places until evening, but still failed to find their donkey. Night had fallen by this time. The father and son sat down there by the roadside, utterly exhausted.
The laundryman began lamenting. “O God! I used all my hard-earned life savings to buy that donkey. When I set out to buy it, I did not forget You. I left the house, thinking of You. I was also thinking of You when I bought the donkey. I even bought a nice picture of You to be enshrined in my prayer room. Despite all that, You forsook me. What is the point of praying to You anymore?” Thus soliloquizing, he hurled the picture he had bought to the ground.
Upset, disappointed and tired, that poor man felt utterly defeated. He was too fatigued to take even one more step. There was quite a bit of distance to travel before he could reach his village. To make matters worse, it started raining. Finally, he decided to spend the night with his son at the nearest inn.
The next day, the laundryman received news that shocked him. The rain that had fallen the night before had caused a landslide that killed many people in his village. If he hadn’t lost his donkey, he would have reached home by evening, and both he and his son would have been killed. As his wife had gone to the neighbouring village to see her relatives, she, too, had been spared.
Reflecting on this, he realized that though he had lost a donkey, God had saved his family. In sheer gratitude, he joined his hands together prayerfully. The night before, he had scolded and cursed God because he had lost his donkey. Today, he was rejoicing because his life and those of his family members had been spared. There is a good side to every situation we curse. It is enough if we acquire the vision to see this.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi