Half A Pomegranate

Brian Conroy

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Early one morning, the Buddha and his disciples set off on an alms round. He announced that on that day all of the offerings they received would be given to the poor. 

The community sat beneath the red blossoms of a sala tree and waited. Soon all of the most important dignitaries from the surrounding area came to make offerings. 

First to arrive was King Bimbisara. He offered lavish gifts of gold coins, gilded lanterns, and necklaces sparkling with precious gemstones. The Buddha accepted these offerings with one hand. 

Next to arrive was Prince Ajatashatru. He extended offerings of intricate carvings, mouthwatering foods, and sticks of fragrant ox-head sandalwood incense. Again, the Buddha accepted these offerings with one hand. 

These were followed by offerings from minor kings, brahmins, elders and laypeople. The Buddha accepted all of their offerings with a single hand. 

Late in the day, a disheveled old woman appeared before the Buddha. She bowed respectfully and said, "World Honored One, by the time I heard you were accepting offerings, I had already eaten half of this pomegranate. I am just a poor old woman. The only thing I have to offer is the other half of this pomegranate. I hope you will accept it." 

Those gathered looked on in embarrassment at the old woman's meager offering. But the Buddha extended both of his hands and gratefully accepted the half a pomegranate. 

When the old woman was gone, the Buddha's disciple Aniruddha asked, "Why did you accept the old woman's offering with both hands, but all of the others with only one hand?" 

The Buddha replied, "This woman gave all she had without expecting reward. I needed both hands to accept such an abundant offering." 

Brian Conroy is a story-teller. Excerpt above from his book, Stepping Stones.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the abundant offering of the old woman? Can you share a personal story of a time you either received such abundance or were able to tap into it yourself? What helps you tap into your deepest abundance?

Add Your Reflection:

11 Previous Reflections:

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    On Nov 20, 2020 Vandana wrote:
    I just wanted to add another perspective to this story. This is from Vedanta. It says, no one gives away anything for anyone. The person who gives, is giving because he/she/they feel happy after the giving.
    So, when the lady gave half of the pomegranate, she did it because she wanted to accumulate the good Karma, so she might have a better re-birth.
    So, no giving is selfless 🙏🏽

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    On Nov 19, 2020 Fatmah Namukasa wrote:
    What I learn from this is that...it is not what you offer others that matters...but the love accompanying the gift is the major issue...giving from your heart not from your head... is the essence...and that's what the disheveled lady did... offered her all from her heart...the rest offered lavish gifts but it wasn't their all...not even 1% of their all...I suppose.

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    On Nov 18, 2020 Vandana wrote:
    I think whatever we receivefrom the Mother Nature is always in abundance. For example, right now when I go for my nature walks, I feel so much gratitude while looking at the beauty around me! So many different colors of fall! Such clear and beautiful skies! I see birds and squirrels justfinding enough to eat so they could survive! As I heard from Mooji, "Life takes care of life"! I see it so clearly around me every single day!
    Nothing can be more rewarding then just admiring the beauty as life unfolds every single morning!

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    On Nov 18, 2020 Anilkumar Pandit wrote:
    The ultimate is to get over the feeling "I" am offering. Eventually it leads to dissolve the "I" in totality.

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    On Nov 18, 2020 Pandu Ranga Reddy Kallem wrote:
    I am reminded of a similar anecdote from one of the greatest epics of HINDUISM Religion titled RAMAYANA eons ago. A poor old woman Spiritual Seeker named SHABARI/SABARI, who was living in a forest of SOUTH INDIA and who was eagerly awaiting the arrival of none other than LORD/GOD RAMA himself to have His Darshan(seeking Divine Blessing to attain her Salvation/Liberation) for months together, used to collect a few Indian Berries from the forest every day, taste them for their sweetness, discard the sour ones and collect the sweet ones so as to offer them to the God Rama. God intoxicated Shabari was so innocent and ignorant in that one ought to not offer tasted gifts to others. Finally Lord Rama came to the place where Shabari was living in the forest and was welcomed with offerings by not only Shabari but also a few other Monks living in the nearby Ashrams practicing Spirituality. Of all the offerings made, Lord Rama chose to partake the Indian Berries offered with great Love by Shabari... [View Full Comment] I am reminded of a similar anecdote from one of the greatest epics of HINDUISM Religion titled RAMAYANA eons ago. A poor old woman Spiritual Seeker named SHABARI/SABARI, who was living in a forest of SOUTH INDIA and who was eagerly awaiting the arrival of none other than LORD/GOD RAMA himself to have His Darshan(seeking Divine Blessing to attain her Salvation/Liberation) for months together, used to collect a few Indian Berries from the forest every day, taste them for their sweetness, discard the sour ones and collect the sweet ones so as to offer them to the God Rama. God intoxicated Shabari was so innocent and ignorant in that one ought to not offer tasted gifts to others. Finally Lord Rama came to the place where Shabari was living in the forest and was welcomed with offerings by not only Shabari but also a few other Monks living in the nearby Ashrams practicing Spirituality. Of all the offerings made, Lord Rama chose to partake the Indian Berries offered with great Love by Shabari knowing fully well that they were not fresh but tasted already by Shabari and went on to describe them as being very Sweet brushing aside the objections made by His brother Lakshmana amongst other people there. Hence, the principle established is that God willingly accepts any offering made with genuine Love for Him irrespective of its value and the status of the person making the offering.[Hide Full Comment]

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    On Nov 17, 2020 Patricia wrote:
    The Buddha and Jesus tell the same story! Truth is ONE.

    1 reply: Patricia | Post Your Reply
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    On Nov 13, 2020 David Doane wrote:
    The abundant offering of the old woman was her giving all she had without expecting reward. I've never given all I have (actually the old woman gave very much but didn't give all she had). I see giving without expecting reward as the purest giving in that it is giving free and clear, not expecting anything in return, with no agenda, no manipulation, no expectation, no goal or purpose to be gained. When I have given without expecting any reward I feel most gratified. What helps me tap into my deepest abundance is reflection on what I have, awareness that I have a lot though really it's a gift and not mine, gratitude, openness of heart, and compassion.

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    On Nov 13, 2020 rahul wrote:
    Though royalty preceded her, only the old woman gave like a true queen. The irony is that it often takes the utter humility of poverty to internalize the truth that whatever we have is a gift of the universe. Those of us with more wealth are often drunk on the wine of our egos which bubble tales of our own talent, smarts, and grit. When you're hungry and cold, you soberly taste the divine with gratitude in every bite. May we give like kings and queens, so we never become beggars with riches.

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    On Nov 13, 2020 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    Such simple and easy to understand stories teacha profound spiritual lesson. When we offer a gift from our heart without expectingany rewardit becomes an abundant offering.When a poor old woman heard thatthe Buddha was accepting offerings she had already eaten half of the pomegranate.The only thing she had to offer was the other half of thatpomegranate. It was a meager offering but it had the deepest abundance. It is indeed a gift from the heart and that way it was priceless. Serving others with no axe to grind. This is the heart of the Karma Yoga narrated in the Bhagavad Gita. This is my understanding of spiritualty. It lifts us from a lower self to a higher self. I practice Karma Yoga in my life by sharing what I have with others mostly in the form of teaching without expecting any reward in return. This way of living feels my heart with deep joy, contentment, and fulfillment. Reading such storiesfrom different wisdom traditions, contemplating on them, and sharing them withothers h... [View Full Comment] Such simple and easy to understand stories teacha profound spiritual lesson. When we offer a gift from our heart without expectingany rewardit becomes an abundant offering.When a poor old woman heard thatthe Buddha was accepting offerings she had already eaten half of the pomegranate.The only thing she had to offer was the other half of thatpomegranate. It was a meager offering but it had the deepest abundance. It is indeed a gift from the heart and that way it was priceless.

    Serving others with no axe to grind. This is the heart of the Karma Yoga narrated in the Bhagavad Gita. This is my understanding of spiritualty. It lifts us from a lower self to a higher self. I practice Karma Yoga in my life by sharing what I have with others mostly in the form of teaching without expecting any reward in return. This way of living feels my heart with deep joy, contentment, and fulfillment.

    Reading such storiesfrom different wisdom traditions, contemplating on them, and sharing them withothers has been very helpful to me in my spiritual journey. Daily practice of mindfulness meditation and cultivating skills of compassionate living help me stay on my path. It's by giving we receive!
    Namaste!
    JagdishP Dave'
    [Hide Full Comment]

    1 reply: Venkhat | Post Your Reply

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