Siva and Shakti, the Divine Couple in Hinduism, are in their heavenly abode watching over the earth. They are touched by the challenges of human life, the complexity of human reactions, and the ever-present place of suffering in the human experience. As they watch, Shakti spies a miserable poor old man walking down the road. His clothes are shabby and his sandals are tied together with rope. Her heart is wrung with compassion, touched by his goodness and his struggle. Shakti turns to her divine husband and begs him to give this man some gold. Siva looks at the man for long moment. ‘My dearest Wife,’ ‘I cannot do that.’
Shakti is astounded. ‘Why, what do you mean, Husband?’ You are Lord of the Universe. Why can’t you do this simple thing?
‘I cannot give this to him because he is not yet ready to receive it,’ Siva replies.
Shakti becomes angry. ‘Do you mean to say you cannot drop a bag of gold in his path?’
‘Surely I can,’ Siva replies, ‘but that is quite another thing.’
‘Please, Husband,’ says Shakti.
And so Siva drops a bag of gold in the man’s path.
The man meanwhile walks along talking to himself, ‘I wonder if I will find dinner tonight – or shall I go hungry again?’ Turning a bend in the road, he sees something on the path in his way. ‘Aha,’ he says. ‘Look there, a large rock. How fortunate that I have seen it. I might have torn these poor sandals of mine further.’ And carefully stepping over the bag of gold, he goes his way.
* * *
‘The Bag of Gold,’ like many wisdom tales, has layers of meanings, one being: within each stumbling block is also a treasure. Gold, of old, is associated with the inner sun.
The above version of the story is shared by Elisa Pearmain in ‘Doorways to the Soul.’ See the link in my blogroll at the right. One page on her site features publications.
To the above story she adds: … Before going to sleep each night, think about all the gold encountered during the day. You may feel quite rich …
The longing remains, expressed in this song by Neil Young: … I want to live, I want to give. I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold …
One of my New Year resolutions is to practice tunes on my G Blues Harp – a magical instrument that fits into my pocket – however bad things get, a little breath and a harmonica can cheer people.
The drawing is by a friend – Claire Finaz – on a Christmas Card many years back. It depicts the inner sun very well.