Once I was waiting at the Aligarh railway station to board a train for Punjab. The train was to leave at about 8:30 p.m. but it was delayed. I had a coolie for my luggage who was also waiting with me. I was carrying my packed food for dinner. As the train was late, I ate the food on the platform itself, sitting on a bench. After that, I bought two oranges, one for myself and the other for the coolie. While doing so, I was filled with compassion and with that subtle ego within, I offered an orange to the coolie. He was absorbed in his own world and, perhaps, this offer disturbed his contemplation.
As a result, he declined my offer saying that he was in no mood to eat at that time. For a moment, I felt hurt and also insulted. It took me some time to come to terms with this small incident. At that time, I was reading a book by Vivekananda, in which it is often mentioned that it is us, who need the world and not vice versa. Whenever someone offered his or her service to the society, the first advice he gave to others was to drop the ego while serving others. Since this advice of his was fresh in my mind, I immediately related this incident with it. It, then, became clear to me that it was my subtle ego of giving which hurt me and not his refusal.
These were the initial years of my service. Fortunately, certain incidents of this period turned me into a spiritual seeker. At that time, I was in the nascent stage of seeking and such incidents were certainly programmed by Nature as practical demonstrations of what I was reading in the books. The refusal by the coolie was one of them. Since then my perception about giving to others, in whatever form, changed completely and I started taking all such opportunities as grace of God In due course, I also realised that when we give with the right attitude to the right person, we receive much more from Nature. The return may not come from the same person or persons, but it comes from sources which are often unknown to us. Therefore, to live a life based on calculations or expectations proves counterproductive and mars the joy of giving. Our concern should only be our joy in giving and once it becomes our nature then our returns are taken care of by Nature itself. In that case, even the joy of receiving multiplies. The simple refusal of the orange by the coolie taught me this lesson for life.