Laugh and Learn – 3

Oops!  I am in the wrong train again!

I heard the following story from Swami Adiswarananda, the Spiritual Head (1973 – 2007), Ramakrishna Vivekananda Center, New York.


A person in New York was frustrated with many problems in his life.  He had problems in his job as well as in his family.  He thought he could not handle them.  To run away from these problems and worries, he turned to drinking.

One Friday, he spent the whole night drinking in a bar.  The next day, he thought he would go to see his friend in Boston.  Since he was not sober enough to drive, he decided to take a train.  He was so used to drinking that while going to the train station he took a couple of shots of vodka.

He had a ticket to Boston.  But the drinks had gone to his head and he could not think straight.  He was embarrassed to ask anyone for the train track and platform.  He got into a train and found out that it was the wrong train.  He got off and sat in another train.  But that was also the wrong train.

After getting on and off the wrong train five times, finally, someone helped him to get in a train that was going to Boston.  He saw a well-dressed gentleman sitting on a berth.  The gentleman was annoyed by the smell and appearance of the drunkard.  The drunkard sat a little bit away from this gentleman.

By this time, the drunkard was becoming somewhat sober.  To make sure he was in the right train, the drunkard asked this gentleman, “Sir! Where this train is going?”

Wrong Train Illustration-Sneha

The gentleman felt pity for the drunkard.  He looked at the drunkard from head to toe and said, “Do you know with your drinking habit you are heading towards hell?”  The gentleman was a religious preacher.

The drunkard immediately got up and said, “Oops! I am in the wrong train again.” J

Note:  I am not promoting drinking.

Lesson Learned:  I learned never to judge a person by his/her behavior. Never write off a person.  Each person is inherently divine.  Negative and wrong thoughts make a person behave badly.   In anyone’s life, bitter and painful consequences help replace wrong ideas with the right ideas.  Swami Vivekananda said that the role of nature is to make realize each person his/her inner divinity.

We all make mistakes.  Swami Vivekananda said, “If a man with an ideal (of realizing one’s inner divinity) makes a thousand mistakes, I am sure that the man without an ideal makes fifty thousand.” When we realize our mistakes, we have to correct them and try not to repeat the same mistakes again.

How do we know if we have wrong ideas?  Swami Adiswarananda said that if everyone comes in your way, then you are heading in the wrong direction.  We blame other people for our wrong ideas and improper behavior.

Hell and heaven are here on this earth.  If we live a selfish life based only on the pleasures of body and mind, then we will be living in hell.  If we live life with the goal of realizing and manifesting our inner divinity, then we will be living in heaven.  Living a spiritual life or Soul-oriented, unselfish life brings bliss that is beyond heaven.

(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudi for editing and Sneha Shah for illustration .)

7 thoughts on “Laugh and Learn – 3

  1. What an interesting (and entertaining) story! When reading the story, I tried to think of what lesson I learned from it before reading your lesson learned, and one thought I had was: perhaps the intoxicated man represents all of us as we are on the path to find our final destination. We are blinded by worldly desires the same way his mind was distracted by alcohol, and this can lead us to the wrong train, over and over. But, as the intoxication with this world of “me and mine” wears off, we learn to ask the right questions, and find our way to the proper train that will take us to our goal. Another thought I had was that it is important to think of the role of that preacher in the story — his admonishment at such a critical time made the drunkard get off of the right train! In the same way, religious teachers must be careful how they tell their message — if they are too derogatory, perhaps they will push people who were genuine away from reaching their goal, rather than leading them towards it!

    1. Hi Sonali: Thanks for your comments and your thoughts about lesson learned from this story. They are very good lessons. It is amazing that people can look at a story from various points of view. Actually, that is the idea of a story. One can think and learned various lessons from the same story.

  2. Thanks for the lovely story Uncle. It felt so nice to hear from you the stories Swami Adishwaranandaji used to tell!

  3. Namaste Uncle,

    Thank you once again for your beautiful and inspiring article. This one reminds me of Swami Vivekananda, who once said “those only live who live for others and rest are more dead then alive”

    Mihir Shah

  4. Hi Uncle,
    This is an amazing story. It was funny and also helped to convey a very strong message. Thank you for the post!

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