We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
– Joseph Campbell
One enlightened person was passing, and Valmiki, a murderer, a man who lived by theft, caught hold of this enlightened man. The enlightened man said, “What are you going to do?”
Valmiki said, “I am going to rob you of all that you have!”
The enlightened man said, “If you could do that I would be happy, because I have something very inner – steal it, you are welcome!”
Valmiki could not understand it, but he said, “I am concerned only with outward things.”
The enlightened man said, “But they won’t help much. And why are you doing this?”
Valmiki replied, “Because of my family, for my family – my mother, my wife, my children – they will starve if I don’t do this; and I know only this art.”
So the enlightened man said, “Bind me to a tree so I cannot escape, and go back and tell your mother and your wife and your children that you are committing sin for them. Ask them if they are ready to share the punishment. When you are before God, when the last judgment comes, will they ready to share the punishment.”
For the first time Valmiki started thinking. He said, “You may be right. I should go and ask.”
He went back, asked his wife, and she said, “Why should I share the punishment? I have not done anything. If you do anything it’s your responsibility.”
And his mother said, “Why should I share it? I am your mother; it is your duty to feed me. I don’t know how you bring the bread, that’s your responsibility.”
Nobody was ready to share the punishment – and Valmiki became converted. He came back, fell at the feet of the enlightened man and said, “Now give me the inner, I’m not interested in the outer. Now let me be the robber of the inner, because I have understood that I am alone and whatsoever I do, it is my responsibility, nobody is going to share it. So now I must look inwards and find who I am. Finished! I am finished with this whole business!” This man was converted in a second.
God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.