It Seemed Like Such a Good Idea at the Time

Have you ever wondered, How did my life become so complicated?

Or, Where did all this stuff come from?

Yeah, me too.

Although I love my life and wouldn’t trade the people in it for anything, I do sometimes fantasize about running away to a place by a holy river with only my husband and the barest of essentials. You?

Okay, so I won’t be renouncing the world any time soon, but I will be spending the next eight weeks letting go of some physical and mental clutter, and I’d love it if you’d join me.

But more on that in just a minute.

The following story was told by my great-grandfather guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura (1874-1937) to illustrate how stuff can easily have its way with us, and how something small can become something…large.

I hope you like it:

Once upon a time, a renounced spiritual master presented his disciple with a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, advising him to study the book every day. The disciple started his study of the Gita while sitting inside a cave on the Vindhya Hills.

Unfortunately, a small mouse in the cave started eating the pages of the book. Extremely perturbed by its mischief, the disciple bought a kitten from a nearby village to keep the mice away.

But milk was required for the maintenance of the kitten. Considering all the related problems of acquiring milk every day, the disciple felt a strong need to have a cow close by, so by divine grace, a kind-hearted person gave him a cow.

Now an anxiety for maintaining the cow loomed large in the heart of the disciple. So that the cow would be comfortable and safe, the renounced disciple built a barn with much labor and effort.

Thereafter came the anxiety for day-to-day care and maintenance of the cow, such as providing her with regular food and water. In addition, the renounced disciple was very anxious about spoiling his devotional performances while caring for the cow, so he decided to appoint a cowherd boy.

The cowherd boy took charge of maintaining the cow –but who was going to feed the boy and oversee his duties regularly? After much deliberation, the anxious sannyasi disciple finally got married and became an out-and-out family man and left aside his study of the Gita entirely.

After a long lapse of time, his spiritual master, trying to find out his disciple’s whereabouts, happened to come in front of the disciple’s palace. Looking at the material opulence and multitude of extended family members, he asked him, “What is all this?”

Then the disciple submitted everything with folded hands in front of his spiritual master, “O master, this is the family I had to build up for the sake of your Gita, remember?”


I like this story because it kind of reminds me of this.
What do you think? It does, doesn’t it?

So, as I was saying, I’ll be spending the next eight weeks letting go of some physical and mental clutter, and I’d love it if you’d join me.

Bindu Wiles has organized a community project through her website called The Shed Project. She’s paring down to only 100 belongings (!) and losing 10 pounds, but you needn’t go that far if you don’t want to (I’m not).

You can clean out a closet, lose a bad habit or just let go of a grudge.

I’ll probably do all three.

The idea is to simply look at some of the stuff you hold on to and lighten up a little or a lot. If you’re interested, go ahead and click the badge below to learn more.

Otherwise, you can follow along with me as I write about related topics from time to time (such as renunciation and thrift store lust!), and let you know how it’s going with my own personal Shedventure over the next few weeks.

We start tomorrow. Will ya lighten up already?

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4 Responses to It Seemed Like Such a Good Idea at the Time

  1. I definitely need to do this too! (That story sounded way too familiar to my own life!)

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I’ll follow along with interest. I love stories of clearing out clutter. Though that does make me wonder if I have mental clutter that I can work on for myself.

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