Inspiration and Stories

Three Pilgrims


The story is told of a wise man who met three pilgrims on the road. The first was pale and withered and cringing with fear. The wise man asked him, 'Why are you in such a frightful state?' Haltingly the man answered: "All that I have ever done haunts me. I fear the consequences of all the evil I have done knowingly or unknowingly. I am afraid that I will suffer the eternal punishment of naraka, what men call hell." The wise man spoke to him saying: 'It is sad and distressing that you do not turn your heart and thoughts to God, who alone is the source of all wisdom. Instead you live in continual fear of hell. So your pilgrimage is not genuine. You are trying to offer your pilgrimage as a bribe to God, so that you will not be punished for your sins. You will never find peace along this path.'

The second pilgrim was consumed with worries and doubts. The wise man asked him, 'Why do you seem so sad and worried?' The pilgrim answered, "I desperately want to find the bliss and peace of the heavenly realm, but I fear that I will not find it." The wise man rebuked him sharply, saying: 'It is shameful that you fail to think of God's creative power and love. This alone can fill your heart with great awe and thankfulness. Instead, you are consumed by your own desires for peace and joy. You only prayer in order to gain fulfillment of your own selfish desires. Such prayer is worthless and will never lead you to peace.'

Afterward, the wise man turned to the third pilgrim who radiated joy and contentment. Friend, he asked, 'What is the secret of your joy and peace?' The pilgrim answered: "My heart is filled with joy and I am filled with thankfulness to God who has opened the way for me to know his presence and find unity with him. May he open my heart more and more so that I can love and serve him with heart and soul and strength and so that I can worship him for love alone."

Told by Sundar Singh, an Indian Hindu who accepted the tenets of the Christian way and eventually found truth for his journey in both teachings.