We deny ourselves of life’s greatest need when we close our hearts and fail to pay attention to the outstretched hands reaching to find a kind spirit; when we lock ourselves to those whose hearts and minds are lonely and longing to somehow share our joys and sorrows; or when we do not realize that life’s completeness and richness depends on the things we share with our loved ones and friends.

We sometimes lose perspective of the difference we can make when we care more of our giving and care less of what we take. One of the major problems in our world today is that, so many people only seem to care about themselves. It gets harder and more difficult to find people who actually care about others.

The story of the cow and pig written by Sri Chinmoy reminds us how wonderful life could be if we have the opportunity to share and enjoy helping other people.

As the story goes, there was once a man who was very, very rich and very, very miserly at the same time, so the villagers used to dislike him intensely. One day he said to them, “Either you are jealous of me or you don’t appreciate my lack of generosity — God alone knows. But you dislike me; that much I know. I tell you, when I die, I won’t take anything with me. I will leave it all for others. I will make a will, and I will give everything to charity. Then everybody will be happy.”

Even then people mocked and laughed at him. The rich man said to them, “What is the matter with you? Can’t you wait for a few years to see my money go to charity?”

Still the villagers didn’t believe him. He said, “You don’t believe me, but am I immortal? Of course I will die, and then my money will go to different charities.” The man could not understand why people were not appreciating him.

One day the rich man went out for a walk. All of a sudden it started raining heavily, so he took shelter under a tree. O God, under the same tree he saw a pig and a cow. The pig and the cow entered into conversation, and the man overheard what they were saying.

The pig said to the cow, “How is it that everybody appreciates you and nobody appreciates me? When I die, I provide people with bacon, ham and sausage. People can also use my bristles. I give three or four things, whereas you give only one thing: milk. Why do people appreciate you all the time and not me?”

The cow said to the pig, “Look, I give them milk when I am alive. They see that I am giving it and that I am very generous. But you don’t give them anything while you are alive. Only when you are killed do you give ham, bacon and so forth. People don’t believe in the future; they believe only in the present. If you give while you are alive, then only will people appreciate you. That is why I get appreciation.”

The rich man got the point. From then on, he started giving everything that he had to the poor. After that everybody adored him and worshipped him.

We have two hands. We take with one and with other we give. That’s the way life works out and that’s the way to live. What we get and what we give must balance up someday. It’s give a little, take a little all along the way.

By Tim Pedrosa