Cash and Trash
A close friend of mine, Professor Jap*1 Singh, a professor at a Ludhiana university, narrated this episode to me about two decades ago. I repeat below what my friend described to me:
Professor: "You know, I contribute regularly for gurdwara (Sikh temple) functions. One year, special Gurpurb celebrations were arranged by the campus residents of the Panjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana.
The organisers as usual visited me for my contribution. I usually gave 25 rupees every time they came for collection. They told me, “This will be a special function, we want a bigger contributions from you this time, Professor. Mr. ABC (a clerk) paid 20 rupees.”
I took this as a signal for me to double my contribution. However, keeping my recent promotion and position at the University in mind, I contributed one hundred rupees. The members were very pleased since they expected only 50 rupees.
I pat myself on the back!
On the day of the special Gurpurb, I deeply regret and am embarrassed to tell you (I know you won’t reveal my name to others) what went through my mind.
Drenched in my ego, I said to myself, “This person would have paid only five rupees; this teacher might have given ten rupees; this worker would not have paid anything, he has come here just for the langar (free food served at Sikh temples).
Look! I paid one hundred rupees! I am really a great devotee. I was feeling very proud and inflated”
At night, I have a dream
This thinking continued in my mind even after the function was over and I had returned to my house. At night I had a dream in which I telephoned God. The dialogue, which I had with His office, was like this:
God's office: "This is God’s office. What can we do for you?"
Professor: "Do you know that I gave one hundred rupees for the Gurpurb? Did you credit this big money to my account? "
Response: "Please wait - let me look". The operator goes through her screen and then say, "No. We received no money from you. "
The Professor is startled
I was startled; how can they not have received my large amount of cash, I thought.
Professor: "How could you miss this big sum of money? I might be the only devotee to give such a big amount for the Gurpurb."
Response: "Oh! Yes, now I remember. We did receive the cash but threw it in the trash; where it belonged and should have gone in the first place."
I was puzzled and for a moment thought may be they have a wrong connection, but the office staff continued..
I was really disappointed
I was really disappointed to hear that. I could not help crying like a child (in my dream). The office secretary at God's Office became concerned with my weeping. To console me she said, "Let me check with the other secretary, she maintains another kind of account. I am going to connect you with that desk, please continue to hold."
I could not believe my ears when the second secretary told me that I have a huge balance in my favour and that I should never feel any embarrassment or guilt for anything, anywhere. I was so very happy to hear this.
Although I was elated to hear about the huge balance in credit on my account but I was also a little apprehensive and puzzled. I asked her, "When did I deposited that money with you? I heard the secretary speaking to someone and then..
Old shoes were in good shape?
God's office: “A couple of months back in the month of November, you had an argument with your wife. She was proud of your promotion at becoming the head of the faculty, and therefore had purchased new shoes for your son. You didn’t approve of the purchase because you thought that the old shoes were in good shape. When you questioned her she replied that she didn’t want her son to get sick in the cold wearing old worn-out shoes. You were disgusted and upset and left the house for your office.”
God's office continued: “When you got out of the house, you saw some poor students going to their primary school. One of them was without shoes. Your heart was moved with sympathy for the boy going to school barefoot. You told the boy to wait there. You went inside, picked up those old shoes and gave them to the boy. The boy put on the shoes, smiled a little and without saying anything walked away to his school. The sympathy for the poor has turned the old shoes into an unlimited amount of cash and you will never be short of anything. Do you remember this?”
Before I could say "Thank you"...
She hung up even before I could say, “thank you.”
Dear friend, I know you practice a religious life and that is why I have shared my dream with you. It has given me a great lesson, “Ego turns our cash into trash. Sympathetic feeling for the poor turns trash into cash. This episode I have remembered many times and I felt pressured inside to share it with somebody. I chose you. You give lectures to the youth and talk to the Sangat in the gurdwaras. Maybe you can share this lesson with them, of course, without revealing my identity.”
- 1 Name has been changed to protect identity
Article by Dr. Gurbakhsh Singh at Sikhism.com - Books