We talk a lot about practice in Yoga. One part of it is on the mat or the cushion but most of our lives are lived in the world. Today, as I was walking by the sea wondering at the wonder of life I thought of a very old folk tale called Stone Soup. A man went to a village that had been ravaged by war and famine. When he entered the village all doors shut and people hurried to hide what little they had. The man finally found an old man sitting outside and asked, “Kind sir, I wonder if you have a pot. I’m very hungry after my long journey and want to make stone soup.” “Stone soup?” the old man replied, “Never heard of it but yes, I can lend you a pot though I’ve nothing to put into it.” So, the man went to the stream to get water singing all the way of the delicious soup he was looking forward to eating. The people of the village had not heard singing or happiness for a very long time so they began to open their windows just to see . “What are you so happy about young man?” someone finally asked. “Oh, I’m making stone soup. It’s most delicious would you like to come and share some for supper?” As the water began to boil the young man ceremoniously unwrapped a smooth stone from a cloth and plunged it in, rubbing his hands together in delight. ‘Oh, if only I had a bit of salt to bring out the flavor of the stone,” he said. One of the villagers said, “I have a bit,” and ran home to get it. “And, wouldn’t an onion just add a bit.” Another villager said, well maybe in my garden I can find one left. Little by little other ingredients were suggested and it turned out that each person had a little something to contribute. They gathered round the pot as the stone soup was cooking and they too began to sing along, “Stone soup, stone soup what a lovely smell. Stone soup, stone soup a story’s here to tell. Stone soup the loveliest soup and we all give a whoop for -a pot, a stone, an onion, a carrot cause the best part is to share it. Stone soup, stone soup what a lovely smell. Stone soup, stone soup our hunger it will quell.” And so it did having found that when each of them gave something there was enough to feed them all.
The message is one of sharing yet sharing seems to be something we have lost sight of in the current state of fear which says protect and hoard, rather than share and care. In the Yoga scriptures Ahimsa , non violence is first and foremost. After that Satya, telling the truth and conscious communication and Asteya, honesty and not grasping for what others have. To honor relationships and not to abuse the energy of attraction, sexual energy is Brahmacharya which means also to create relationships that foster understanding and truth. The last of the Yama, the foundational principles for living is Aparigraha, to take only what you need and nothing more. It is easy to criticize while at the same time in some way feeling envy and a sense of impotence as it seems the rich get richer. I wonder if rather than throwing stones we could make some stone soup. Most of us are not ‘forest dwellers’ or ‘sanyasin’ but ‘householders’ in the Yoga Tradition.
What is yoga if is doesn’t increase our capacity to share and give us the sense of security that within each and every household there is something of benefit which can be shared. We have not renounced this world but are seeking to live in it : the more we share the more we have. It’s a simple recipe , Stone Soup.