Once there were two villages of people that lived side-by-side in a beautiful valley in the mountains.
In the first village, people suffered from severe poverty, hunger, contaminated water, alcoholism and violence. In the second village, no one went without plentiful food, access to clean water or shelter. In the second village, social conflict was virtually non-existent because disparities of wealth between its inhabitants were naturally kept at an absolute minimum.
In the first village, their crops routinely failed and a general attitude of disgust towards daily work prevailed among their people. Meanwhile, in the second village, their crops prospered in the exact same soil that farmers in the first community desperately tried to cultivate. In this second village, the villagers worked hard and found great meaning in their hours of labour.
One morning, as the glorious sun rose high above the valley and the surrounding mountains, the leader of the first village summoned two of his closest and trusted assistants to travel to the neighbouring village to observe and determine the reasons for its comparative success.
That afternoon, the two assistants set out by horseback to the second village. After a day’s journey, they arrived just before dusk and were instantly greeted by the community’s council of elders. The assistants politely introduced themselves and explained how they had been sent by their leader to observe the second village and see where improvements could be made within their own.
The council of elders lovingly stared at the two strangers before them and granted them permission to stay. Arrangements were immediately made to accommodate the two weary travellers for a fortnight.
The spirit of joy and mindfulness
Over the course of their two-week stay, the two assistants participated in the daily life of the village. Quickly, the pair came to see why the village enjoyed so much success. Everything its inhabitants did was done with the spirit of joy and mindfulness. The people prayed and recited sacred mantras before each of their meals and chewed their food with pure awareness.
The inhabitants of the second village also worked the land with a deep and humble sense of reverence and gave freely of their few worldly possessions to all others in their community. What’s more, each morning and each night, the community came together for an hour of meditation to send thoughts of healing and loving-kindness to all beings everywhere.
Most memorable of all, on the final evening of their stay, the village invited the two visitors to participate in their lively summer solstice celebration. The pair watched in awe as the villagers painted themselves green, brown and blue (to symbolize the colors of the Earth) and then sang and danced around an ancient tree that they believed had long bestowed blessings on the entire village.
Permission to stay
When the fortnight came to an end, the two travellers were so moved by their experience that they went back before the same council of elders and requested permission to stay on longer in exchange for their labour on the community farm.
The elders granted them permission to stay, but with one condition: that the pair immediately write their own leader back home and relate what they had learned so far during their brief but spiritually transformative stay.
The two former assistants turned students of life began to draft their letter.
“Dear esteemed sir, we’re writing to inform you of our intentions to remain living in this village for a good while longer. We’re happy to report that we think we’ve discovered the secret to their success. Everything that these wonderful people do is done in the spirit of love and awareness.
“Whether they’re eating, farming, praying or giving away what few material possessions they have—these saintly people complete each task with deep presence and overflowing gratitude. Every minute of every day, they give thanks to the one with many names for the good fortune they enjoy and the good deeds they sow.
“If the people of our own village could just simply learn to complete our daily tasks with the same level of humility, presence and joy, we’d enjoy the same level of success. In our short time here, we’ve also been astonished to find out that no one takes more then they need from the Earth and each other.
Everyone gives freely of their food and possessions, and in return, they each receive that ultimate reward that can’t possibly be measured in cattle, gold or land. That reward is the gift of being of service to one’s community for no other reason than the spirit of love.
Oh, how gloriously refreshing it is to find a people without any ulterior and selfish motives! It’s as if these people are so in tune with the natural rhythms of life that they just seem to instinctually hear nature’s mystic calls within.
In short, we have both come to conclude that what might be called divine love is at the root of this inspiring village. For the health and well-being of our own village, please consider planting the soulful seeds of humility, gratitude and compassion within our own people so they may one day enjoy the fruits that come to harvest.
Hopefully, we will eventually return with much more wisdom to share from our humbling experience in conscious living. In the meantime, may great peace and fortune be visited upon you and our people.
— Your beloved assistants
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