Be a bee

Those who do not eat fish cannot stand the smell of fish.  It will be difficult for them to hang around in the fish market for no reason.   They probably want to get out from there as soon as possible.  It is a different story for people who eat fish.

Sri Ramakrishna told a story:

A fisher woman went to a distant village to sell her fish.

A Fisher-woman

She carried a basket full of fish on her head.  By the time all her fish were sold it was dark.  She was afraid to go home at that time.  She remembered that her childhood florist friend lives in a near-by village.  She had not seen her for a while.  The fisher woman thought this is a good excuse to see her.

She went to her house and knocked the door.  The florist friend was extremely delighted to see her friend.   Both remembered their happy and sad times spent together in their childhood.  The florist friend prepared delicious dishes for her friend.  They both ate dinner.

Engrossed in talking they did not realize that it was almost midnight.  The florist friend made beds for both of them in a room which was decorated with beautiful flowers.


The room was filled with the fragrance of the flowers.  After some time the florist friend found that her friend was struggling to fall asleep.  She was trying to sleep in various positions, but no avail.  The florist friend asked her friend, “Dear! Are you alright?  Is something bothering you?”  The fisher woman said, “I don’t know friend why I can’t sleep.  I am not sick.” After few moments a thought flashed in fisher woman’s mind.   She asked the florist friend to bring her fish-basket and sprinkle some water in it.  The florist woman was surprised.  But she did what her friend told her to do.  From the fish-basket the smell of fish came and filled the room.  The fisher-woman put that basket near her bed and immediately she fell in deep sleep.

What did I learn from this story?

Each one feels comfortable in an environment one is used to.  If a person is placed in a different environment then he/she will be uncomfortable even though the environment is excellent like the room filled with flowers.  If we are not used to listening to inspiring talks or doing prayers, then after a while we get bored by such talks and prayers.

Sri Ramakrishna says that a fly sits on flowers and also sits on filth.

A fly

But, a bee sits only on flowers and sips honey.

A bee

We have to develop our mind to be like a bee which enjoys uplifting thoughts and prayers and derive inspirations from them.  Keeping our mind in positive environment will help us grow spiritually.  If we do not watch our mind then it will drag us down to gossip and trash talks and we develop a taste for them.

Note:  The deeper meaning of the story and the analogy is the following:

The ‘flower-environment’ and the ‘bee sipping honey’ mean to remain on the plane of the Spirit. It is living a life with awareness that my true identity is divine or “I am Atman (Soul) and not the body and mind.”

The ‘fish-smell’ and the ‘fly sitting on the filth’ mean mind dwelling on the petty pleasures of the body and mind forgetting one’s true identity as a Soul.

16 thoughts on “Be a bee

  1. Such a concise message with a substantial message! Even if we are comfortable with the surroundings we are in now, it is indeed equally important to experiment with similar or better surroundings to become wiser and more aware of the world. This post reminds me of a quote by Dr. Deepak Chopra, “You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable,” supporting that only when we surround ourselves with the most spiritually uplifting environment, then only our character will flourish.
    Thank you Uncle for this wonderful message which I will keep following.

  2. Very nice story! I remembered it at once.

    Just a different perspective: Isn’t it also good for us to be placed in uncomfortable environments and find our own way to adapt to them? This would help us build our character. (Am I on the right track of thinking or am I completely off-base?)

    Best Regards, Sachi Desai


    1. Dear Sachi: Sri Ramakrishna said that when a plant is small, then it has to be hedged around to protect from animals (especially in countries like India where animals freely walk around).
      When the plant’s trunk is enough thick, then nothing happens to the tree even an elephant is tied to it.

      You are right that if we learn how to continue doing our spiritual practice even in an uncomfortable environment, then we become strong. But, we should make sure that the environment is not affecting us negatively. In any circumstances favorable environment or holy company is always helpful. We should always try to seek company or environment which helps us to grow spiritually.
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. This is a great story with a great moral! If we do not surround ourselves with the right company, the right mindset, we will never be able to prosper spiritually. We are used to environment we are placed in. However, if it is a bad environment, it is our duty to work hard to get out of it and progress in life. This simple story allowed me to understand such a lesson easily!

  4. I enjoyed the simple yet strong message from this story. It is hard to focus on the right thoughts and practices with all the distractions surrounding us, but if we take the time and effort, these good thoughts and prayers will become our comfortable environment. And even if in the beginning prayer is difficult, I think it is important initially just to pray however we find comfortable. Like Swami Vivekananda said, “Go on! To pray for something is better than nothing.”

  5. This story contains a lot of morals within it. It’s message is simple yet powerful. Nowadays, it’s harder to stay focused with the distractions that surround us. It’s also important to keep the right company. I enjoyed this story very much!

    1. Thank you Dhara. Swami Vivekananda said that if he had to learn everything again, he will start with concentration. Once we learn how to focus our mind, then we can easily acquire knowledge.

  6. This story, although very simple, is such a powerful example of the idea that the human mind and the ability to be distracted easily. Although difficult, we need to make sure that we are sticking to our goals and maintain our concentration. It is also important to realize that prayer helps to surround us with an environment of relaxation and tranquility. Even though, like the bee, humans can adapt to any environment, it is imperative to choose the environment, like the flower, that helps to uplift us and make us people with character and spiritual upbringing. This rather simple story helped me to realize the power of a person to ultimately decide our fate.

  7. This story is a great example of how people feel most comfortable where they spend most of there time. Similarly, people feel most comfortable around the people that they spent most of their time with. Therefore, Sri Ramakrishna is indirectly telling us to watch who and what we surround ourselves with, as they can greatly influence what we fell is “right”, whether it be doing something, or in this case, being in something’s presence.

  8. I think as teenagers, we are inclined to act like the fly, indiscriminately finding pleasure in any environment we find. And, in turn, we change due to our environment and company. But, we must be like the bee, which chooses to stay in a positive environment and take in positive teachings/ values. Only then, can our lives be different from that of the fisherwoman, who finds such solace in the stench of her fish, that she requires it to sleep. A pure drop of water can be dirtied by passing through our gutter. Likewise, we are pure and must stay away from the gutters in the world to maintain our purity.

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