Sow and reap

A set of simple words can convey a great deal of wisdom. The biblical saying, ‘As you sow, so you shall reap,’ is a good example.

The picture it brings to mind is commonplace and familiar to all. One does not have to be a farmer to know that in order to get a harvest of paddy, the seeds must first be sown and the fields watered and weeded continually until the grain matures and ripens. It is quite evident that there can be no gain without pain, a powerful principle that stretches to include all that humankind sets out to do and hopes to achieve.
Work is often thought to be an imposition, the curse that comes with being born human. It is, on the other hand, the fountainhead of three blessings – profit, pleasure and progress. Without these, we cannot experience material, emotional or spiritual satisfaction. It may sound strange, but the impulse to work, to strive and achieve is innate.

The newborn sucks with all its strength to draw the milk that nourishes it. As it gains in strength, it begins to crawl, to sit and eventually to stand up on its own. All this does not take place without setbacks and pain, but the child persists until it succeeds. This learning process continues apace with the child understanding more and more of the world around it until it becomes an adult and is independent. It is quite evident that effort and work are central to human existence and survival.

At the physical level, work helps us to meet the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. But the benefits go far beyond these for work can provide us with emotional satisfaction and mental stimulation. Just a little thinking will reveal that what we have right at this moment is a result of what we have sown earlier. Good relationships, a loving family and loyal friends are an outcome of efforts made in the past. Also it is hard work that transforms challenges into opportunities. The mind is sharpened and new lines of thought appear. One may well succeed in making what is good even better.

There are spiritual advantages as well. In the words of Azim Premji, ‘A rupee earned is of far more value than five found. When people are asked to narrate their most memorable achievements, they usually recount those which needed maximum effort. It is almost as if the pain they faced is now an integral part of their pleasure. What is inherited or gifted follows the old rule of ‘easy come, easy go’. We only know the value of what we have if we have struggled to earn it.’

This apart, work teaches us lessons in team spirit, humility and empathy.
There is an interesting story that sums this all up. A woman dreamt that she had walked into a brand new shop and found God behind the counter.

‘What do you sell?’ she asked.

‘Everything your heart desires,’ answered God.

The woman decided to ask for the best things she could think of. ‘I want peace of mind, love, happiness, wisdom and freedom from fear.’

God smiled and said, ‘My dear, you have got me wrong. We don’t sell fruits here. Only seeds.’

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