The world loves ‘givers’ and hates ‘takers’.
Now this is not just some ‘nice to do’ thing. Think farming. What do you do if you want a great harvest? Plant lots of good seed. What happens if you eat up the seed? No harvest. Life is farming.
Imagine that you walked into the hut of a poor peasant farmer in India at the tail-end of summer, when the monsoon rains are expected. What will you see inside his home? You will see a few pots and pans, some grass mats, the floor neatly swept and smeared with a paste of cow dung which, when dry, gives it a firm surface. In one corner you will see a small stove; three stones with some pieces of firewood on which his wife cooks their single meal. Depending on the time of the day, you may also see a goat or two and perhaps a calf with his mother tethered to a peg outside the door of the hut. You will also see in a corner, kept safely on a low platform of a few bricks to protect it from dampness, half a bag of grain.
When you talk to the farmer he will tell you how they are at the end of their supplies and are awaiting the rains anxiously. He will tell you that he is himself working as a laborer on a construction site to put some food before his family. Hard under the hot sun, but what choice does he have? You ask him how long before he expects the rains to come. He will tell you that the rain will come in less than three weeks. You will be surprised how he knows with such certainty without access to any meteorological instruments, unless of course you remember that he has thousands of years of primordial knowledge handed down in memory from ancestors long forgotten.
Having opened the conversation, you can’t resist asking him, ‘Why don’t you eat the grain in that corner? Why are you working so hard when that grain is more than enough to feed your family until the rains come?’ The farmer will smile and say, ‘You city types can’t understand us.’ Even more strangely, when you return to his home soon after the rains come, you will see an even more peculiar thing. This farmer, instead of eating the grain is now throwing it in the newly ploughed field and burying it in the mud. You can’t but ask him, ‘Why are you throwing good grain into the mud?’ And he replies in his own mysterious way, ‘So that my family and I can eat for the whole year.’ Ah! If only we learn the lessons from life.
To harvest you have to plant. What you have in your hand is the harvest. What you plant in the earth is the seed. If you refuse to let go what you have in your hand, that is all that you will ever have. Instead, if you give what you have in your hand to the world, it will yield a harvest so plentiful that you can’t possibly hold it in your hand. Keep holding what you have and you starve after it is gone; plant it and you will eat and others will eat with you. Keep your fists clenched and you can hold nothing; open your hands if you want to hold anything. If you open your hands to give, they will be open to receive. If you want to hold what is coming to you, you have to let go what you are holding onto. This is called risk taking and it is based on faith – like the farmer has in the rain. He knows it will come. He prepares for it because he is certain it will come. It is not in his hands to bring rain, but it is in his hands to prepare his field to take full advantage when it does come.
That is why my principle in life is, I will not allow what is not in my control to prevent me from doing what is in my control. Life, as I said, is agriculture – in more ways than one. It is only when our actions rise up to the Heavens that our destiny descends. The nature of that destiny depends on the nature of the deeds that go up to invoke it. We don’t write our own destiny, but we choose which of our many destinies, all written already, we want to live. So choose wisely for you will have to live what you choose.