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Shri Nathji would often narrate the parable of the piece of wood and the carpenter, wherein he explained the real reason for the suffering that comes to man when he walks on the spiritual path.
A piece of wood saw beautifully carved statues of wood that lay in a carpenter’s shop. The piece of wood desired that it too have the same shape and it went to the carpenter and asked him to convert it to such a shape.
The carpenter was reluctant: Don’t ask me to do that. It is a very painful process. I will have to cut and slice with a knife and you will not be able to endure the pain. You will ask me to stop in the middle, and that would ruin my work.
The piece of wood said: I promise I will not ask you to stop! I will endure the suffering if you can make me as beautiful as these statues of wood.
And the carpenter agreed. He began work with his knife cutting into the piece of wood. The piece of wood screamed with the pain and begged the carpenter to stop. The carpenter, however, continued undeterred by the cries of the wood: Now, I am too far gone into my work to stop! If I leave you unfinished it will be a disgrace on my name.
The piece of wood said: I had wanted you to make me beautiful, but you have torn me to shreds!
Finally, the carpenter paused in his work and placed a mirror before the piece of wood. The piece of wood was astonished beyond belief. “Who is that?” it asked, “I had wanted to be like that!”
That is you, said the carpenter, “that is what you wanted to be!
Immediately the piece of wood forgot the intense agony that it had endured and fell in love, not only with its own image, but also with the carpenter, who had made it so beautiful. The harshness of the carpenter’s carving now assumed a beautiful shape.
O please continue and finish thy carving, I am willing to endure any pain now! said the piece of wood.
The carpenter finished carving and the piece of wood was turned into a beautiful statue that people beheld with awe.
The piece of wood is man, and God is the sculptor. Suffering is the knife with which He makes the soul beautiful.
But the flesh is weak and physical suffering hard to endure. Even Christ had said: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
And there are times when man cries out like Christ: O Father, if it be possible let this cup pass away from me!” But this is a temporary phase, after which man says to God, as Christ had said: Thy Will be done!