Once two partridges, a husband and wife, were going on a trip. Before they left, the wife laid some eggs near the ocean. Then the husband said to the sea, “We are going on a sea voyage. You must take care of these eggs for us. if we don’t find the eggs when we return, we’ll empty you.”
The sea agreed to take care of the eggs, and it kept them safe. A few days later the two partridges came back, but they couldn’t find the eggs. They screamed at the sea. The sea wanted to give them the eggs, but it couldn’t find them. The birds cursed the sea; they began taking out a drop of water at a time and throwing it on the land.
“We are going to empty you,” they said to the sea.
Some little birds saw all this and they asked, “What are you doing?”
The partridges replied, “We are punishing the sea because it didn’t keep its promise to look after our eggs.”
The little birds thought it was a noble task and they joined the partridges. After a while some big birds took up their cause. They also started taking out water drop by drop. This went on for weeks.
One day, Garuda (a divine bird who carries the great cosmic god Lord Vishnu) came and asked, “What are you doing?”
The birds said, “Can’t you see? We are emptying the sea. ”
Garuda said, “You fools, how long will this take? You will never be able to do it. The sea is vast, infinite.”
But the birds answered, “No, we have determination and perseverance.”
Garuda was very surprised and said, “Let me show them Compassion. I’ll ask Lord Vishnu to help them. if Vishnu helps, then certainly they will be able to find their eggs. if the eggs are still in good condition, Vishnu will be able to return them. But if they are destroyed, he can do nothing for them.”
He went to Vishnu. “Vishnu, I have never seen fools like these. If you really care for fools, then will you do them a favor?” Garuda then told him the whole story.
Vishnu said, “No, they are not fools. They are showing the spirit of patience and perseverance. This is how human beings must try to empty the ignorance-sea, drop by drop. it is what seekers must and should do. The ignorance-sea is vast. If sincere seekers want to empty it and replace it with knowledge-light, then they must do it the same way, drop by drop. I am very pleased with these birds. I will command the sea to return the eggs.”
Garuda said, “The sea wanted to give them the eggs but it misplaced them and believes they are destroyed.”
Vishnu said, “I will use my psychic power to show the sea where they are.”
He used his psychic power and the sea immediately found the eggs and returned them to the partridges. Then Vishnu said to the birds, “Perseverance, patience and self-giving all are of paramount importance to fulfill one’s divine task. ”
from Garden of the Soul
by Sri Chinmoy