The Servant and the Pole

A farmer's work is never done. The farmer's days start before sunrise and end when darkness makes more work impossible. Nontheless each evening it seems he's fallen a bit more behind, fields, fences, irragating, weeding, planting, culitvating, harvesting, so much to do and only so much time to do it.

One farmer lamented, as his sweat rolled down, "if only by some magic i had help then maybe i could feed my family and have some rest". He looked up and asked the gods to answer his pleas. A few minutes later an old man and his strapping young sidekick came walking down the dusty road beside the farmer's field.

They waved a mutual greeting, then stopped to speak. The farmer told the pair of his pedicament, a large family to feed, never enough time to finish all that needed doing, never enough money to make ends meet let alone hire help. The wise old man spoke softly to his young companion then turned and spoke to the farmer.

"We can offer a solution" the old man said, "but listen carefully and think clearly before you answer. My young friend will agree to live here and be your servant, he'll work very hard everyday to help you and your family but only on one condition. If you run out of work for my young friend to do he'll turn on you and kill you."

The farmer looked around and thought of all the cores, all the maintainnce, all the things he could do if he had such a young, strong servant and answered, "Yes, of course i accept." Immediately he young man went to work by the farmers side. Day by day, week by week, year by year the farmers land prospered and bloomed. His family prospered as wel and the farmer finally found some moments of rest.

As time went by and the farm grew more productive and it became slowly more difficult to find chores that kept his servant constantly busy. Soon the farmer began to worry about the deal he'd made beside the field long ago. Just as the farmer was sitting on his porch without any idea of what to do he looked toward the road and saw the same wise old man walking his way. He ran to the road and begged the old man to take back his servant. "No, said the wise man, "a deal is a deal. But perhaps i can offer you a solution."

The farmer, having run out of chores, lept at the chance to save himself from his servant and the deal he'd struck so long ago. "Have your servant build a pole" the wise man said, "then, whenever you run out of work for your servant, instruct him to climb up and down the pole until you need him again." The farmer lived, and his servant remained busy.

This parable is very old, it came into written form in the Vedas as part of The Mahabharata. It's meant to teach us about ourselves. The farmer is all of us and the servant is our mind. Everyone needs the wonderful tool evolution has given us to solve the many problems our complicated lives encounter, but like the farmer, our tool, if left idle, will turn on us and its endless calculations will rob us of any real peace. Our pole, the ancients taught, is a mantra, a sound to give the mind a chore to occupy it until we need it again.