The cup of water


On the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh, a class on jñana-yoga was taking place.   The master was explaining that the essence of every one of us is divine. In other words, we are God.

One of the disciples asked,

— “How is it possible that every one of us is God? We are limited beings, while God is infinite. Our knowledge is limited, while God is omniscient. We can only be in one place, whereas God is omnipresent.”

The Guru asked him to take a cup and bring water from the river Ganges.

 The disciple did what his master had asked, approaching him with the cup filled with water…

The master then asked,

— “Is this water the Ganges?”

And the disciple responded,

— “Yes, master.” 

At which the Guru asked,

— “How is it possible? The Ganges is immense, and contains a great quantity of fish; in the Ganges there are many tortoises, boats are passing and many people enter to bathe. However, this cup of water is small and limited, without fish, without boats… How can it be the water of the Ganges? “

His disciple answered,

— “Of course it is the water of the Ganges, but in a small quantity it obviously cannot contain fishes, tortoises, boats or people who enter to bathe.”

— “I completely agree”,

Said the Guru,

— “Now return this water to the river.”

The disciple did what his teacher had asked, and when he returned, the Guru said to him,

— “You are like the water of the Ganges held in a cup. Despite being divine, it appears different, due to its limited form. In returning the water from the cup back to the river, it is returned to its immensity, to once again contain fishes, tortoises, boats and devotees. In each small drop lies the entire ocean.”