“Young people should get rid of bad thoughts and habits. The spiritual quest cannot be put off to old age.” (BHAGWAN BABA)
In an orthodox Hindu family, a father noticed his son of fifteen, smoking. The boy would try and slip away from his father’s attention when he smoked. The boy was otherwise a conscientious boy who was responsible towards his academics and sports too. Father decided that since the boy was performing well on all other fronts, it would perhaps be unwise to pull him up on this one vice. Given time, the vice would probably die its own death.
With the passage of time the boy started having irregular sleep patterns and his appetite went away too. He would not be able to eat his meals at the right time and would sometimes feign a headache or an upset tummy to avoid a confrontation with his father at the dining table. Mood swings and irritable temperament became a part of his character. The boy was now grown and at the threshold of his career. Father noticed that the boy’s room smelt of cigarettes all the time and his health seemed to be deteriorating.
Finally, father asked him the question that he had been avoiding for a number of years now. “Son,” he asked, “How many cigarettes do you smoke in a day?” “Huh?” asked the son distractedly. Father repeated his question. The young fellow said, “What? I don’t smoke Dad. What makes you think I do?” But father saw the blood rushing to his son’s cheeks. He said, “Son, you are a grown up man now. Let’s talk like friends. Come on, out with the truth now.” The lad hesitated, then said plainly, “Forty odd …” Father’s jaw dropped. He didn’t expect this. He took a deep breath and continued, “For how long has this been going on?” The boy said, “Pretty long, I don’t really remember.” Father said, “You had all the right habits, what went wrong, why did you get into this? I can see that you are now not able to concentrate on your work. You do not eat or sleep well. Your mother and I are worried about you.” The boy shrugged his shoulders and said, “Everyone has vices nowadays. I have just one. I don’t steal, abuse, tell lies. I don’t do drugs. Come on Dad, I’m human. Let me enjoy this one fancy that I have. Just leave me alone.”
Father realized that there was no use counselling. The boy was not a kid any more. He was a man. A few days later, father was out gardening. The neighbour’s little son was trying to plug the holes in a rusted old watering can, so that he could water the flower pots at the rear end of the driveway. By the time he would reach the flower pots with his can, the water would drain away from the numerous holes. The boy succeeded in plugging all the holes with an adhesive, except one, because this one was too big. As the little fellow struggled with his job, the man’s son stood watching him, lazing on the other side of the fence. He said, “Hey! Little boy, unless you plug all the holes the water shall drain away. If the number of holes is less, the pace of the water loss shall be slower, but drain away it must.”
The father stood behind his son and said softly. ‘That’s what I said too, my boy, one hole is enough to empty the barrel. When are you going to plug it?”