Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I came across this fable the other day, supposedly a Chinese folk tale, though the picture I found on the net to go with it looked suspiciously Indian. So maybe it’s a tale common to many regions. At any rate it seemed to throw much light on the nature of transformation so I thought I would share it with you here. The story goes like this:
A water bearer had two large pots which he carried from the stream to the house each day. Each pot hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. But the other pot was cracked. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For two years the bearer ended up delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.
As with supposedly inanimate objects in all stories both pots were gifted with awareness and able to voice their thoughts. The pot which was perfect naturally felt proud of being able to fulfill the task for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of it’s own imperfection. And miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what seemed like a shameful failure, it said to the water bearer one day by the stream, “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize.” As the water bearer listened it carried on. “I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.”
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the side of the other pot? That’s because I have always known about your flaw. So I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”
We often put so much emphasis on what we think of as perfection and yet, isn’t it sometimes our imperfections which bring a sense of freshness and joy to our lives? In today’s world we tend to use a person’s failure like a stick, to beat him with. This goes as much for parents as it does for teachers or eventually the people for whom we end up working. The only thing which this results in is a deep reluctance to own up to our mistakes which makes it all the more difficult for us to try out anything new. Finally it is awareness that helps us to redeem our own mistakes and failures rather than a rejection of our flaws.


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