In Life’s most excruciatingly painful moments, keep the Faith – fundamentally in yourself. Know and believe that if you have been created (obviously, without your asking for it), you will be looked after, provided for and cared for.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836~1886) often used to tell the story of a milkmaid to awaken people to have faith in themselves. Let me share that story with you.
A farmer’s daughter’s duty was to carry fresh milk to customers in various villages. One of the customers was a priest. To reach his house, the milkmaid had to cross a stream by a sort of ferry raft, for a small fee.
One day the priest, who performed worship daily by offering fresh milk to God, finding that it arrived very late each day, scolded the milkmaid. “What can I do?” she lamented, “I started out early from my house, but I had to wait a long time for the boatman to come.”
The priest refused to accept her explanation. He barked at her: “What! People have even walked across the ocean, on the water, by repeating the name of God, and you can’t cross this small stream?” The milkmaid took his words very seriously. From then on she brought the priest’s order of milk punctually every morning. After a few weeks of the milkmaid’s improved, on-time delivery, he became curious about it and asked her how it was that she was never late anymore.
“I cross the river repeating the name of the Lord,” she replied, “just as you told me to do, without waiting for the ferry.” The priest was shocked. He didn’t believe her, and asked, “Can you show me this, how you cross the river on foot, how you walk on water?” So they went together to the stream and the milkmaid began to walk on water. Looking back, the young lady saw that the priest had started to follow her but he was floundering in the water. He was refusing to move forward beyond a point.
“Sir!” she cried, “You are uttering the name of God, yet all the while you are holding up your clothes from getting wet. That is not trusting in God!”
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to sum up the moral of his story thus: “If you lose Faith you lose everything. Faith in ourselves, Faith in the God within, this is the secret to greatness. If you have Faith in all the three hundred and thirty million gods… but still have no Faith in yourselves, there is no salvation for you!”
I relate totally to that perspective. Most of the time, most of us are like that priest – holding up our clothes from getting wet, while professing faith in all the religions around us and in an external God. And that’s precisely the reason why we often feel depressed, deprived and lost in the face of Life’s challenges. When we learn to walk in Faith, in ourselves, than by sight alone, we will have learned to cross the river of Life – peacefully and joyfully!