Once I visited a master who lived by a beautiful river, just where it emerged from the mountains and merged with the vast plains of India, it widened and became deeper and gentler. There was no bridge across this river so people took boats that ferried day and night the devotees from one side to the other. I was intrigued by this master since he never really preached anything, neither did he teach, all he did all day was laugh and smile and tell jokes. I liked him instantly as I too love to laugh and smile and tell jokes. I liked his abode as it was among the forests full of mischievous monkeys and colourful birds and I stayed with him for a week before I left for the high Himalaya. During my stay a wise man from far, full of knowledge and pride came to the master to proclaim his wisdom and veracity.
Master greeted the wise visitor and offered him something to eat and cracked jokes. The wise man ate his fill and then sat by the master who was surrounded by hundreds of local villagers and other visitors. He asked the master; you only tell jokes and stories, but do you have any real powers? Can you show us any miracle? To which the master replied: no my friend, I have no powers neither can I show any miracle. But I can tell you a joke and make you laugh, which is pretty much the same thing.
The wise man said: I meditated and practiced, abstaining my body from any human comforts for 30 years and now I can perform the miracle of walking on water.
The onlookers gasped in wonder and I too looked at this man with renewed interest. But the master looked on as always with a benign smile. ‘You don’t seem to be impressed,’ the man said, ‘do you want to see me cross the river?’
No my friend, I believe you that you can indeed walk on water but I am amused that to perform something so commonplace, which a poor ignorant boat man could have done for you for very little money, you wasted 30 years of your precious life in penance and abstinence. At the end of which you can only perform the miracle of walking on water just for your own self. Whereas the ignorant poor boatman not only can cross the river in his boat but he helps thousands cross the river too. I think you would be better off being a boatman.
The wise man stared at the master for long and then quietly got up and walked away. Now he is a boatman and helps thousands cross the river.