The importance of being thoughtful

One time, a simple elderly man came into a shop.
And the merchant was selling him some grains and the merchant asked the man, “Why is your head shaven? You come here every day. You never shave your head. Why are you wearing dark clothes today?”
And the old man, he was very serious. He said, “Oh! You have not heard? Sargal Singh is dead!”
The merchant, he didn’t want to reveal that he was ignorant – because the way he said “Sargal Singh is dead. You have not heard?” It was as if everyone knows Sargal Singh – so he said, “Oh no! Are you serious? I am really sorry to hear this!”
So the merchant shaved his head and wore dark clothes. And then the next day, a military man came to the merchant shop and he saw the merchant with his shaved head and dark clothes.
“What are you doing? Why are you shaved head?”
“Oh! You have not heard? Sargal Singh is dead.”
“Oh! This is very sad news.” So, the military man shaved his head and put on dark clothes.
And soon he started telling all of his people, all the soldiers. And one day when all the soldiers – hundreds and hundreds of soldiers – they were lined up to march, the commanding officer came before them. He said “What is this? You all have shaved heads? Why you are shaving your heads?”
Then, all of them together, hundred men in unison said, “You have not heard? Sargal Singh is dead!”
The commanding officer said, “Oh!” He didn’t want to show his ignorance. “Oh! Sargal Singh is dead!” So, he shaved his head. Then he reported to the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister said, “What is this? Shaving your head? Why?”
He said, “Oh! Mr. Prime Minister you must have heard. You must have heard that Sargal Singh is dead!”
He said, “Oh! Oh no! Oh! Thank you for telling me this.” So, the Prime Minister came to report to the King.
And the King said, “Why your head is shaved?”
“Oh! Your Majesty it breaks my heart, it breaks my heart to inform you of this terrible news!”
“What? What?”
“Sargal Singh is dead!”
The king was the first one to ask this very brilliant question. He said “Who is Sargal Singh?”
He said, “I don’t know!”
“Find out!”
So, he met the military commander. He said, “I don’t know.” Then, the next day when all the soldiers were gathering to march, he asked them all. – “Who is Sargal Singh?”
And they all said in unison, “You do not know?”
He said, “No!”
“You do not know who Sargal Singh is?”
“No! Who is he?”
“We don’t either!”
So they went to the shopkeeper. “You don’t know?”
“No! I don’t either!”
Then they finally went to the little old man. This is the material conception of ‘parampara’. They went to that little old man and asked, “Who is Sargal Singh?” He said, “You don’t know?”
“No, we don’t know!”
“I will tell you. He is my donkey. I am a washer man and for so many years he has done faithful loyal service to me by carrying the cloth on his back from customer to customer and he has died.” He started crying. He said, “I loved Sargal Singh, but now he is dead!”
This is an example, we are laughing, but the principle that we are speaking of is very much molding our lives every day with our conception of reality, our conception of what is really valuable in life and what we should really pursue in life.
“We are just told that looking nice, wearing a certain type of fashion, making some money, getting a nice house, getting some prestige in society will make you happy. But is this reality? Is this true? Or do we just believe that because so many other people believe it? We are very much influenced by this society around us.” – Radhanath Swami

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