New Way of Fishing
The following post is based on a story I had heard from Swami Adiswarananda, the Spiritual Leader of the Ramakrishna Vivekananda Center in New York from 1973 to 2007.
In cities like New York, all ideas fly. If anyone has some new idea to sell, there are customers to buy that idea.
On the bank of the Hudson River where fishing is allowed, a person put up a sign:
New Way of Fishing!
For $100 only, learn a faster way of fishing.
No need to spend money on rods and baits!
John was walking around the bank of the Hudson River. He saw a few people fishing. He thought that he should have brought his fishing rod. Then, he could have spent time fishing. He walked a little distance and saw this sign advertising a new way of fishing. He smiled and thought to himself, “Wow! My thought has power. I thought of fishing, I do not have any fishing rods, and here is a man telling me how to fish without a fishing rod. Let me learn something new and have a good time.”
John approached the man and asked him, “How can one fish without a fishing rod?” The man said, “In New York, everything has a cost. Give me $100 and I will show you how to fish without a fishing rod.” John was thinking whether he should spend $100 or not. He thought $100 is too much to learn this new way of fishing.
He walked away from the man. But, he was thinking, “Everything in New York is expensive. Compared to all other prices, $100 for a new idea is cheap. Maybe I will learn this new way and show off to my friends. Perhaps I can teach this trick to a few others and either get my money back or maybe earn more. It is good that I withdrew a couple of hundred dollars from the ATM a few hours ago.”
John came back to the guy. He gave him a $100 bill and asked him to teach him the new way of fishing.
The guy said, “See, you have to buy a powerful mirror like this.” He showed him the mirror. Then, he continued, “Reflect the rays of the sun from the mirror to the group of fish or an individual fish. The fish will be blinded by the rays of the sun and will stop moving. At that time, you can go and catch the fish. See, it is so easy. You do not need a rod or bait.”
John was puzzled. He was not sure whether he was learning a new way of fishing or if he was being tricked. He gathered courage and asked him, “How many fish have you caught so far with this new method?”
The guy said, “You are the fifth one!” 🙂 🙂 🙂
Beware of the people who are trying to teach us short cuts or new ways to avoid the necessary work involved in achieving something important. There may be a few genuine cases in which short-cuts or new ways may help us. But, most of the time these are gimmicks.
Surely, we have to keep learning new ways. But, we should not get cheated by greedy or shrewd people who take advantage of the simple-minded. There is no substitute for hard work. I really like Thomas A. Edison’s famous quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” He also said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to success is always to try just one more time.”
There are no shortcuts in the spiritual path. We have to follow the paths which have been described by the Saints and Sages who have realized the highest Truth. Swami Adiswarananda said that no one mimics the dirt (meaning creates fake dirt), but many people create fake gold because gold is expensive. Thus, there are many people who have tried and are still trying to create shortcuts or new ways to realize the highest Truth since spirituality is the most important part of our lives. But, almost all of them try to drag spirituality either to sense pleasures or to social entertainment or to develop schemes to make money or to earn position and power. Genuine spiritual teachers will ask us to go through the unavoidable hardships (austerities) of spiritual practices and will never compromise the ultimate Truth.
Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita said, “Help thyself by thyself. You are your greatest friend and you are your enemy. One who has attained self-control is one’s own friend and one who lacks self-control is one’s own enemy.” (Bhagavad Gita 6.5 and 6.6)
Shri Krishna emphasizes on self-efforts and says, “With firm determination, lift up the mind systematically and steadily from the body-mind and its related world with the help of the intellect, and focus it on the Atman (one’s true identity). Then, do not think of anything else.” (Bhagavad Gita 6.25). He further said, “If the restless and unsteady mind runs towards the body-mind and the objects of the world, then bring it back from these objects and again focus it on to the Atman.” (Bhagavad Gita 6.26).
Thus, there is no short-cut in spiritual path. We can take help from outside, but ultimately we have to do the required spiritual practice to uplift our self from the lesser truth to the higher truth.
(Thanks to Pallavi Tatapudy for editing this post and Viraj Khetani for the illustration.)