Uproot the Seedling of Bad Habits Before it Becomes a Tree
Once a father had three sons whom he feared were going astray. They were beginning to partake of alcohol, drugs and other activities of which their father did not approve.
Every time he approached them, they said, “No problem, Dad. We have total control. We can stop whenever we want to.”
The father, however, was quite wise. One day he gathered the three sons together and took them into the backyard. He pointed to a small sprout coming up out of the ground. He told one of his sons, “Uproot that sprout.” The son looked surprised at the order, but he reached down and pulled the seedling easily out of the ground. Then, the father pointed to a small bush growing by the side of the garden. “Pull up this bush,” the father told his second son. The bush was not huge, but still its roots were firm in the ground. The son had to reach his arms around the bush and pull hard to uproot it. Finally he succeeded and showed his father the empty hole in the earth where the bush had once grown.
Lastly, the father pointed to a large tree. He ordered his last son, the biggest and strongest of all: “Uproot this tree.” The son looked at his father in dismay. “But Father,” he said. “You know one can not just uproot a tree with one’s bare hands.” The father insisted. “Just try it. You are strong.” So the youth pulled and pulled with all his might. But the tree did not even budge. His brothers came to help him. Together they pulled and pulled and pulled until their faces were red and hot and their arms ached. But, still the tree did not move at all. Finally, they gave up.
“See,” said the father. “When something is new, barely a sapling, it is easy to uproot. But, let it grow into a tree with its roots firmly in the ground and you will never be able to pull it up again. It is the same with your drugs and alcohol and reckless ways. Abandon them now when they are saplings and small bushes. You will have to work only a little. But, do not be ignorant or over-confident and let them grow their roots into you, or you will never be able to rid yourself of them.
In our lives we frequently put off ending our bad habits until “tomorrow.” We will start a new diet “tomorrow.” We will begin to exercise “tomorrow.” We will stop eating meat and other non-veg products “tomorrow.” We will end the relationship which we know is not right for us “tomorrow.” However, unfortunately “tomorrow” rarely comes and if it does, it is frequently too late.
It is said beautifully:
Sow a thought, reap an action.
Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a trait.
Sow a trait, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
We must never allow ourselves to entertain a wrong thought for even a minute. Send it out of your mind like you swat a fly in the house! Nor must we allow ourselves to engage in actions which we know are wrong for even a moment. Before the moment is over, our actions will have become habits. We must guard our destiny and therefore our characters like a vigilant guard protects a castle, allowing no mischievous intruders to enter.
However, it is not only bad habits which we must uproot, it is also our ego.
In yagna one of the most beautiful meanings relates to our own egos. Our egos are also like the seed of a tree if we water it, nourish it and let it grow, it will dig its roots into us and be nearly impossible to uproot later. One of the key messages of a spiritual path is to annihilate the ego, to become humble, to surrender oneself to God. However, if the ego’s roots have a tenacious grip on us, it is very difficult to be free.
However, if one roasts a seed before planting it, then no matter how much it is nourished or watered, it will never grow. Therefore we offer the seed of our ego to God in the Yagna, so that He may burn our ego, so that no matter how much it is watered and nourished by the praise, glory and success we achieve in life, it will never be able to grow and grip our lives.