HOLD HARD YOUR SPADE
AT one time there was a drought in a certain part of the country. The formers began to cut long channels to bring water to their fields. One fanner was stubbornly determined. He took a vow that he would not stop digging until the channel connected his field with the river. He set to work. The time came for his bath, and his wife sent their daughter to him with oil. “Father,” said the girl, “it is already late. Rub your body with oil and take your bath.” “Go away,” thundered the farmer. “I have too much to do now.” It was past midday and the farmer was still at work in his field. He didn’t even think of his bath. Then his wife came and said: “Why haven’t you taken your bath? The food is getting cold. You overdo everything. You can finish the rest tomorrow or even today after lunch.” The farmer scolded her furiously and ran at her, spade in hand, crying: “What! Have you no sense? There’s no rain. The crops are dying. What will the children eat? You’ll all starve to death. I have taken a vow not to think of bath and food today before I bring water to my field.” The wife saw his state of mind and ran away in fear.
Through a whole day’s backbreaking labour the farmer managed by evening to connect his field with the river. Then he sat down and watched the water flowing into his field with a murmuring sound. His mind was filled with peace and joy. He went home, called his wife and said to her, “Now give me some oil and prepare a smoke.” With serene mind he finished his bath and meal, and retired to bed, where he snored to his heart’s content. The determination he showed is an example of strong renunciation.
Now, there was another farmer who was also digging a channel to bring water to his field. His wife, too, came to the field and said to him, “It’s very late. Come home. It is not necessary to overdo things.” The farmer did not protest much, but put aside his spade and said to his wife, “Well I will go home since you ask me to.” That man could never succeed in irrigating his field. This is the case of mild renunciation. (112)