The Farmer, the Ghost, and the Guru: A parable about the mind

as told by Hirdaya, a bhakti yoga practitioner. This parable was shared with her from her Guru, Swami Shyam of the Kulu Valley in India.

Many years ago a farmer with too many tasks to manage on his own, complained to his guru of the overwhelming nature of his work, and how he couldn’t seem to get it all done.  The guru said that he had a way to help, but it came with a catch.  The farmer eagerly requested the help, catch and all.  The guru said, “I will give you a ghost to assist you.  He is a very adept worker, and he will fulfill any task that you require of him.  However, if you do not keep him occupied, he will advance upon you and eat you”.

The farmer thought that this would not be an issue, accepted the “gift”, and headed home.  He assigned the ghost every conceivable task on the farm: planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, tending to the animals, repairs…and sure enough, in time, he ran out of tasks for the ghost.  To his horror, he found the ghost advancing upon him, hungry and ready to eat!

The farmer ran back to the guru, and pleaded for assistance.  “Babaji” he begged “please don’t let the ghost eat me!”  “Very well”, his master relented, and the guru instructed the farmer to erect a pole in the middle of the farm, and to command the ghost to run up and down the pole.  The ghost complied, and the farmer was saved.

In this story, the ghost represents the mind, and the task of running up and down the pole represents the tools of meditation that we might apply, in order to distract a busy mind and connect more deeply to our own innate sense of peace, stillness and ease.

This story was shared by SOYA teacher Emma Faulkner, ERYT 500, who lives in Prince George, BC. The story is shared with permission from Hirdaya Priya, who is a bhakti yoga practitioner and a long time supporter and teacher for SOYA. This parable was shared with Hirdaya from her Guru, Swami Shyam of the Kulu Valley in India. Image courtesy of Pixabay Royalty Free Images.