Once there were two neighbors who were friends and, at the same time, rivals. Both of them were very shrewd and miserly. At times they were absolutely, unthinkably undivine.
One day they decided to go on a pilgrimage. Their wives made up delicious baskets of food for them and they left very early in the morning.
After they had walked for two hours, it was breakfast time. One of them said, “Let us not stop for breakfast. We don’t need to eat right now.”
The other one said, “I agree. Let’s keep walking and stop later for lunch instead.”
So they continued walking. When lunchtime came, one of them said, “I’m not hungry. if you want to eat, go ahead, but I’m not hungry in the least.”
The other one said, “I’m not hungry either. Let’s walk until we are tired. Then we can stop and eat.”
Both of them were perfect rogues. Each one thought that his own wife had made the best food and didn’t want to share it with the other. Each one thought, “If we walk for some time, then my friend will become tired and fall asleep. Then I’ll be able to eat my food all by myself. I don’t want to share any of it with him.”
They walked until it was evening and they were both very tired. After they stopped, each one was waiting for
the other to fall asleep. They waited and waited. Finally, both of them fell asleep.
The following morning when they woke up, they saw that their food was crawling with ants. Instead of blaming themselves, they got mad at their wives! “We didn’t check the food when they gave it to us. Now we find ants all over it. When we go home, we’ll give them a piece of our mind,” they agreed.
But they were still tired and decided to rest a while longer. When they woke up a few hours later, they found rats eating what was left of their food. They were so disgusted that they immediately went home and insulted and scolded their wives.
Their wives said, “Why didn’t you eat the food we gave you during the day?”
Each one told his wife, “I didn’t want to share any of your excellent food with that rascal. It took him so long to fall asleep that I fell asleep too.”
Each wife told her husband, “Since both of you are so greedy and miserly, when you start on your pilgrimage again, I will give you simple food-a loaf of bread-which you can share with your friend. He will be pleased if you share it. Since you are traveling together, you can at least have this much friendship.”
one wife made bread that was very salty and the other made bread with no salt at all. Since their wives had told them that the food was very simple, both men were extremely generous. One of them said, “I am sure your wife is a good cook. Let’s exchange food.”
The other one said, “That is an excellent idea.”
So they exchanged their food and started eating. The one who got the salty bread said, “Your wife can’t cook!”
The other one responded with, “Your wife can’t cook! There’s no salt in this bread. it’s tasteless.”
The first man said, “My wife is an excellent cook.”
The other one said, “Your wife! Then how is it that she forgot to put salt in the bread?”
The first one said, “How is it that your wife put too much salt in her bread?”
They continued to fight until their pilgrimage came to an end, and again they went home and insulted their wives.
Each of them said to his wife, “You made horrible food. I was ashamed.”
Their wives said, “We thought that you were good friends. If you had shared your food with each other, there would have been no problem. One loaf of bread had too much salt and the other had no salt. If you had shared, it would have been delicious for both of you.”
The husbands learned an important lesson from their wives: When you share with your friends, you will lead a more fulfilling life.
from Garden of the Soul
by Sri Chinmoy
Published by Health Communications