From A Collection of Flowers by Shiva
His heart was no longer in the study… having devoted the past few years living in a spiritual community. He had studied long and hard and now he felt he was in a rut. He wanted to remove himself from the intensity of being a student. It was important to see if what he had learned as a spiritual aspirant had any use in the everyday world. The others in the community would not think this very “spiritual,” but he had to do something.
Drawing up his courage and resolve, he approached his teacher. The Spiritual Aspirant knew that if he spoke from his heart, his teacher would understand. Still, this was a major change he wanted to undertake. At the proper moment he conveyed how he felt and his decision that it was time to go off on his own for a while.
The Master nodded in agreement and told him to wait a minute. He went into his private quarters and shortly returned with a small teakwood box.
He looked at it and said, “Take this small gift. When you look at it, think of our time together. Let this small gift be representative of our bond of love and respect for the teaching.”
The disciple took the small box and gazed at it. It was perfect! He had never seen such detail and workmanship. He was most humbled and impressed.
So the man returned to his house to live a “normal” life. As he entered his home he started searching for the perfect place for this teakwood box. Finally he settled on the living room coffee table.
The next morning as he sat down to have his morning coffee, he looked at that beautiful teakwood box on the coffee table. The box was so perfect… The coffee table was so old and marred. This would not do. “I must buy a coffee table that matches that teakwood box,” he decided. So he did.
The next morning he once again sat down on his couch and admired his teakwood box and brand new coffee table… But that rug the coffee table sat on! It was a mess. It simply would not do to have a beautiful teakwood box and coffee table with such an old worn-out rug. So he went out and bought a new one.
A few days later he walked into his house and his eye rested on his new rug with the coffee table and teakwood box. That old couch… It had to go!
During the following months he managed to replace every single piece of furniture in his house to match that teakwood box. The furniture looked great! But the walls and ceiling hadn’t been repaired or painted in years! The new furniture seemed to make the house itself look old and grimy.
As he had repaired and painted the interior of the house, he came to his closets. He threw away most of his old clothes. He no longer wore most of them and he wanted new clothes that reflected who he was now. So, piece by piece he renewed his wardrobe.
It only followed that he also had to do the exterior of the house so that it would match the interior! And, of course, he simply had to landscape his yard.
Finally he felt he was finished. The inside and outside of the house along with every piece of furniture now matched that teakwood box. All he had to do was to move his junker of a car into his freshly painted garage… Whoops!
Later, as he drove his brand new car, he really felt great! Everything really felt wonderful.
He walked into his restored home and sat down on his new couch and gazed at that wonderful teakwood box.
Everything in his life now matched that beautiful teakwood box, which represented his teacher and study.
He smiled and took a sip of tea. A beautiful sense of peace settled over him and he knew in his heart that it was time to return to his teacher and continue his journey.
The Teakwood Box Commentary:
The pathway to Enlightenment is one of balance and completion. To devote oneself so completely to “Spiritual Life” and ignore the holiness in everyday activities and the experience of God in a couch or rug is to fall into the trap of “Spiritual Delusion”…This is where a person is so “holy” that he or she becomes trapped by it. The truly advanced Spiritual Aspirant seeks to realize that God is in everything and seeks to incorporate this into every facet of his or her life. After all, God is All.