Once there were three men sitting under a tree in the garden and they started talking about God. One man said, “I don’t believe that God is perfect. In fact, there are so many things which even an ordinary reasonable man would be able to plan better than God. For example, look over there.” The man drew his friends’ attention to the pumpkin patch where hundreds of pumpkins were growing large and round. “God has put these huge, heavy pumpkins on the end of tiny, thin vines which always collapse under the weight of their enormous fruit.”
One of the other men joined in, “Yes, you’re right,” he said. “Look there at the mango trees. Huge, strong, sturdy trees. And their fruit? A tiny four-ounce mango! What kind of backwards planning is this? Put the heavy fruit on the thin weak vine and put the light fruit on the tall strong tree? I agree that God definitely is far from perfect.”
However, the third man was not persuaded. “What you both are saying is certainly compelling. You are right that it might have made more sense to put the heavy fruit on the strong tree and the light fruit on the thin vine, but still I believe that there must be a bigger, better, Divine plan. I still believe that God knows exactly what he’s doing and that his planning is perfect even if we don’t understand it.”
The two friends chided the third for his simplicity and blind faith. “Can’t you see with your own eyes how stupid it is? Even an idiot would know better!”
Wounded by the other men’s criticism, yet secure in his faith, the third man stood up and went to rest under a nearby tree, separate from his two critical friends. All three drifted off into a deep afternoon slumber in the shade of the mango trees.
With the afternoon clouds, a strong wind rose up and whipped through the trees. Branches swayed in the heavy wind, causing ripe mangoes to fall to the ground. The sleeping skeptics awoke, startled by mangoes falling on them.
One of them exclaimed, “Our friend the believer was right! It is certainly a good thing that only mangoes hang from these branches. The weight of a falling mango was enough to startle me from sleep and bruise my cheek. Had it been heavy pumpkins falling onto us, we would have become pumpkin pie! It is very good those heavy pumpkins grow so close to the ground!”’
Frequently in life, we doubt God’s path. We wonder, “Is this really the way?” We become skeptical of the Divine plan. We lose heart and faith. God’s ways are frequently mysterious; we fail to see the full picture until it is unveiled for us. However, the enigmatic nature of his plan should not cause us to lose faith or to impose our own will.
These days in the West all the new cars have “GPS” navigation system where the computer in the car gives directions on how to reach your destination. As you sit in the car, you just enter the address where you are going, and throughout the journey a pleasant woman’s voice guides you, “Take a left turn in one mile.” However, after you’ve entered the destination address, before her guided instructions begin, you must press the “Accept” button on the screen. If the button is not pushed, the guided route will not begin and you will be left to your own device to reach the destination.
GPS stands for “Global Positioning System,” but I also think it stands for “God’s Perfect System.” He knows the way to the destination of our life, to the fulfillment of our unique, special and divine mission. He has designed the map. He has laid the roads. He has created the mountains, rivers, highways and train crossings. He knows every turn, every corner and every one-way street. He never loses his way.
If we don’t push “Accept” on the GPS system in the car, our journey will be filled with tension and worry. At each intersection we will have to gauge whether it is best to continue ahead or to turn left or right. We will have to stop and ask for directions from passers-by who may not be any more acquainted with the roads than we are. We may eventually reach the destination, if we are focused, efficient and lucky, but we will likely be late and the journey a tension-filled ride.
Alternatively, if we simply press “Accept,” we will be guided gently and correctly at every step. We will know where to turn, where to continue straight and where to stop. Our minds will be free to contemplate God, think pleasant and peaceful thoughts, converse with others in the car. The journey will be peaceful, smooth and enjoyable.
Similarly in our lives – if we accept God’s will, if we allow him to guide us along the path, our lives will be filled with inspiration rather than perspiration, and we will certainly reach the destination in the shortest amount of time.
We must continue to “Accept” the guidance given by God’s Perfect System whether we are familiar with the route or not. Let us always remember that he is the creator, he is the planner, he is the driver and he is the guide.
Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji is the president and spiritual head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh (Himalayas), India and founder/chairman of India Heritage Research Foundation. Swamiji left his home at the age of eight and spent his youth in seclusion and sadhana in the Himalayan forests. He is the recipient of numerous national and international awards.He travels the world addressing audiences, teaching them how to live in “peace not pieces.” parmarth.org