Narada, the great Indian mystic, is going to see God. Playing on his Veena (a multi-stringed musical instrument), he passes a forest, and comes across a very old sage sitting under a tree.
The old sage says to Narada, “You are going to God — please ask one question from me. I have been making all kinds of efforts for three lives, now how much more is needed? How much longer do I have to wait? When is my liberation going to happen? You just ask him!”
Narada laughed and said, “Okay.”
As he progressed, just by the side, under another tree, a young man was dancing with his Ektara (a single stringed musical instrument), singing, dancing — very young. He may have been only 30. Jokingly, Narada asked the young man, “Would you also like any question to be asked of God — I am going to see God. The old man, your neighbor, has asked me to check for him with God.”
The young man did not reply. He continued his dance — as if he had not heard Narada at all, as if he was not there at all.
After a few days, Narada came back. He told the old man, “I asked God. He said three lives more.”
The old man was doing his japa (prayer) on his beads. He threw the beads. He was in a rage. He threw the scriptures that he was keeping with him, and he said, “This is absolutely unjust! Three lives more?!”
Narada moved to the young man who was again dancing, and he said, “Although you had not asked, by the way, I asked God about you too. But now I am afraid — whether to tell it to you or not? Seeing the rage of the old man, I am hesitating.”
The young man did not say anything; he continued to dance. Narada however told him what he had found out: “When I asked, God said, ‘Tell the young man that he will have to be born as many times as there are leaves on the tree under which he is dancing.’”
And the young man started dancing even more ecstatically, and he said, “So fast?! There are so many trees in the world and so many leaves… only this much? Only these leaves? Only this many lives? However, when you go to meet God next, thank him from me! Whatever is, let it be. I am grateful for what is.”