© 2004 by Jay Harden

adapted from a traditional Indian story told him by the mystic Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev


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    In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu near the village of Poondi lived a Master and his servant. The land was soft and full of promise and the Master, known as Suria, was a patient, happy, and spiritual man.

    His loyal servant was Radhe, a young girl, curious about many things. Each day, Radhe brought water from the well to her Master’s house. Each day she made six trips or more, as needed, cheerfully bringing the water in two pots suspended from a softly bent bamboo pole that rested on her shoulders.

    Both pots were made by the village potter, Kerala. Made of tawny red clay, they were identical in every way, except one. The pot that Radhe always carried on her left side was cracked ever so slightly. How it became cracked no one really knew. The pot on her right was perfect in every respect, never spilling a drop of water. The potter, like Suria, was wise in his own manner and had made these pots magical, including the ability to speak to each other. Only Radhe could overhear their conversations.

    The perfect pot was satisfied with his condition. He was a proud pot. As was his choice, he noticed the contrasting imperfections around him. Every day he reminded the cracked pot of his difference.

    “You are leaking water, again,” he would say. The cracked pot heard him, but did not reply.

    “By the time you reach the house, most of your water is lost!” the perfect pot truthfully pointed out. Still there was no reply.

    The cracked pot was focused on other things:

    the cool breeze from Radhe’s gentle swaying;

    the voices guiding them home with their life-giving water;

    the smell of the rhododendron blossoms that often floated his way;

    the velvety view of the green mountains when the mist lingered;

and, of course, the fresh taste of the water he carried.

    From time to time, the cracked pot would share his experiences with the perfect pot.

    “How can you talk of these things when you are failing the Master?” the perfect pot responded. With no answer forthcoming, the perfect pot tried instead to be helpful. “You must first fix your leak if you want to be a real pot so our Master will not discard you.”

    The cracked pot made no debate as Radhe listened intently. Who is right? she wondered.

    On an exceptionally beautiful day in the spring, Suria decided to accompany Radhe to the well. After only a short distance, the Master noticed something quite remarkable.

    On the left side of the path to the well grew a few patches of weeds, but on the right side was a splendid continuous line of wild flowers! All kinds and colors were in bloom, healthy and vibrant, fully alive.

    “Why is this so?” asked the Master. Then Radhe explained about the pots.

    “Ah, again life teaches me when I am aware,“ the Master mused aloud. Then he said, “Radhe, take this cracked pot to my garden and set it above my prize orchid to water it faithfully. Then take the perfect pot to the well for filling all the other pots that come for water.”

    “But Master,” Radhe replied, “how then shall I gather your water from the well?”

    Suria said to her, “What, child, would you decide if you were me?”

    Radhe’s eyes quickly sparkled with an idea. “I would ask the potter, Kerala, if he could make two more pots like the imperfect one!”

    And so it came to be that the Master’s house continued to have water, but the path to the well flowered on both sides.