My 7 year old son Vitthal Bhakta told me this story.
Once upon a time, there was a farmer. He used to earn his livelihood by selling rice he grew on his farm. One year, after the harvest, he was on his way to Pandharpur, which was four hours away. He was blissfully chanting Harinam Sankirtan (names of God) during the journey. On his way by bullock cart with sixty four sacks of rice, one of his sacks fell off the cart but he was so engrossed in his singing that he did not notice.
One of the villagers along the road cried out “You lost one of your sacks, it fell down back there”. When he heard that he came to external consciousness and opened his eyes. He tied up his bulls to a nearby tree and walked back. He saw that the bag had burst open and the grains of rice had spilled out on the ground, white grains shining in the sun.
When he came closer, he noticed there were some birds eating the rice. So the saintly farmer hid behind a tree to wait for the birds to finish their meal. A goat and a cow also joined the birds, and they all ate their fill. Then they went away.
When they were finished, before the farmer could come out from behind the tree, another man suddenly appeared and began to drag away the heavy bag of rice.
The farmer said “wait, that is my bag of rice, it fell from my cart, and I have come to take it back”. The farmer gave the person several handfuls of rice and took the bag back to his cart.
When he reached Pandharpur, he sold fifty of his sacks to get enough money to live till the next season, and offered the remaining fourteen sacks to Lord Vitthal of Pandharpur. He said to the Lord “I learned a lesson today, that the birds and the animals, they take whatever they need, and then they go away. But man is so greedy that he hoards more than he needs”. He concluded, “there is enough in this world for every creature’s needs, but there is not enough for a single man’s greed”.
All food and all necessities of life are provided by God. We may work in the fields, we may work in the factories, but all that we need and want is actually the property of God. Just because we transform it does not make it ours. The earth, the water, the sunlight, and the power of a seed to grow, we make none of these, we have no power over these. We may know how to utilize these, but that does not make them ours.
We cannot make a single thing by ourselves or live for a single day without the mercy of God.
To consider something “mine to do with as I want” is a crime. We should be responsible curators of the gifts that have been bestowed upon us.
अन्नाद्भवन्ति भूतानि पर्जन्यादन्नसम्भवः ।
यज्ञाद्भवति पर्जन्यो यज्ञः कर्मसमुद्भवः ॥ १४ ॥
annād bhavanti bhūtāni
yajñād bhavati parjanyo
All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajña [sacrifice], and yajña is born of prescribed duties.https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/3/14/
कर्म ब्रह्मोद्भवं विद्धि ब्रह्माक्षरसमुद्भवम् ।
तस्मात्सर्वगतं ब्रह्म नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितम् ॥ १५ ॥
karma brahmodbhavaṁ viddhi
tasmāt sarva-gataṁ brahma
nityaṁ yajñe pratiṣṭhitam
Regulated activities are prescribed in the Vedas, and the Vedas are directly manifested from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Consequently the all-pervading Transcendence is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice.https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/3/15/
What is sacrifice? Sacrifice means to please God with our thoughts, words, and deeds. Every thought, word, and deed should be to please God, who is giving us so much at every moment.
The Ishopanishad says this best:
īśāvāsyam idaḿ sarvaṁ
yat kiñca jagatyāṁ jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā
mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam
Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.https://vedabase.io/en/library/iso/1/