Philosophy of Yoga

What we can learn about success from salt, a chicken and a crane

A short children story that teaches adults about success and happiness

Radhanath Swami has written this story in his book ‘The Journey Within’.  I have modified it to align with our daily lives.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…a young disciple asks the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi a question – a difficult one,

What qualities do I need to succeed in life?’

Obi-Wan thinks for a while, and answers,

Visit my Master Yoda. He will have a better answer for you.’

The young disciple travels to another planet to meet Master Yoda. After hearing his question, he simply replies,

I will answer you later.’

The young disciple waits for the answer for over six months. He does not get an answer, though, every day he learns a new Jedi skill observing Yoda.   

One day, a festival is held in the planet with thousands visiting the planet. The young disciple says,

I will take care of serving a feast to everyone.’

And he does so diligently. By afternoon, he is tired and hungry. He sits down to eat.  Yoda says,

No not now, more coming.’

The young disciple decides not to eat and continues serving others. Later in the evening, hungry and tired, he sits down again to eat. Yoda stops him again, ‘More coming.’

So, the disciple serves the third group- and the fourth and the fifth.

By mid-night, he sits down again to eat. Yoda appears and says,

I have an answer for your question. You need to be like salt, like a chicken, like a crane and like you to succeed in life.’ And he walks away with no further explanation.

Young disciple is left puzzled, and so he decides to return to his Master Obi-Wan.

So, what did Yoda say?’ Obi-Wan asks.

I should be like salt, like a chicken, like a crane and myself.’

Obi-Wan bursts out in laughter.  The young disciple is confused and disheartened seeing his Master laugh.  Seeing him dejected, Obi-Wan says,

Salt – no matter, how impressive the dish looks, it is not satisfying if the amount of salt is just not right. People praise a dish by appreciating the quality of other ingredients, but they never say ‘the salt in the dish was fabulous’ – yet- salt does its work without desiring for any praise because it knows its worth. It stands tall everywhere. Be like salt.’  

And what about chickens?

Oh yes, chickens,’ Obi-Wan says with a smile, ‘A chicken selects nourishing seeds from a pile of trash.  It teaches us to seek constructive opportunities in every situation. That comes with your ability to see good in others, or every situation, including your own failure.’

Pleased with these two answers, the young disciple asks, ‘What about the cranes?

Obi-Wan takes a deep gasp and says in a serious tone,

Patience – a crane bird stands patiently on one leg and looks into the water. It lets small fish pass while it waits for the big fish. When the big fish comes, it feasts. How can we succeed if we look for instant gratification and success? It takes patience and a willingness to let small stuff pass by if we want to reach our goals.’

The young disciple smiles and thinks for a while. He then asks his last question, ‘And what about his answer about me?

Obi-Wan says,

You kept your promise of serving all guests. You performed your assigned duty without complaining.  You were dedicated to your assigned task despite challenges and difficulties. That’s what he meant by being you.

Satisfied with his answers, the young disciple sits in silence looking at the clear sky.

Friends, this story from the book ‘The Journey Within’ made a lot of sense to me. We all have dreams and aspirations, and we all want to succeed. But success comes at a price- and that price is dedication (the young disciple himself), focus (a crane), seeking opportunities (a chicken) and more important, not swayed by our own failure or success (salt).

May the Force be with you.

Featured image credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh (Pexels)

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