Meditation and Prayer
by Mark Lloyd Taylor, Ph.D.
My brothers and sisters, may God be with you! The sacred scriptures of the Hindu and Buddhist religions all tell stories or pass along sayings about hospitality. I invite us to muse on those sacred writings this week. Swami Tyagananda tells a story from Hindu mythology which highlights the dual role of God as guest and teacher.
Disguised as a wandering mendicant, Krishna visits a wealthy family, who welcome him warmly and offer him hospitality that matches both their devotion and prosperity. When it is time to leave, he blesses his host profusely, promising him even more wealth and glory. Krishna’s next visit is to a poor widow, whose only possession is a cow. She too welcomes him with great devotion but all that she can offer him is a glass of milk. When it is time to leave, Krishna blesses her and tells her that her cow will die soon.
Arjuna, who has accompanied Krishna to both the places, is horrified. He asks Krishna, “Your wealthy hosts lacked nothing and yet you blessed them with even more wealth. Whereas your blessing to the poor devotee accompanied the ominous news that she will lose her cow. This is unfair and unacceptable.”
Krishna smiles and tells Arjuna, “My wealthy host is insanely attached to his wealth and his reputation; he has a long way to go before he becomes spiritually awakened. On the other hand, this poor devotee is already far advanced on the spiritual path. The only thing that is separating her from the highest freedom is her attachment to her cow. I removed the hurdle from her path.”
The insights that this story provides are obvious. God can enter our lives in any form and at any time, often in most unexpected circumstances. The blessing that the divine guest bestows upon us can be difficult to decipher at first glance.
Sisters and brothers, these words from our holy books encourage me and challenge me this week. Guided by the stories of the Eastern religions, let us pray:
Blessed are you, O God, ruler of the universe and our maker.
You bestow upon us from your bounty the gifts of food and fellowship.
Surprise us this week with the birth of new and unexpected beginnings.
Open our eyes this week to all that is holy, hidden right in front of us.
Call us back this week from our wasteful ways;
send us out in compassion to those brothers and sisters
whom we have deprived of food and conversation.
O Holy One of Blessing, teach us all, Hindus and Buddhists,
Jews, Christians, and Muslims,
that eating and talking together can create harmony among our peoples.
Grant this, most merciful God, for the sake of your righteous name.