Guru Mayi, the leader of the Siddha Yoga Foundation tells this simple story which is fitting for a time when we are practicing accepting the best and worst in ourselves.
The ruler of a prosperous kingdom sends for one of his messengers. When he arrives the King tells him to go out and find the worst thing in the entire world, and bring it back within a few days. The messenger departs, and returns days later, empty-handed. Puzzled, the King asks, 'What have you discovered? I don't see anything.' The messenger says, 'Right here, Your Majesty,' and sticks out his tongue. Bewildered, the King asks the young man to explain. The messenger says, 'My tongue is the worst thing in the world. My tongue can do many horrible things. My tongue speaks evil and tells lies. I can overindulge with my tongue which leaves me feeling tired and sick, and I can say things that hurt other people. My tongue is the worst thing in the world.' Pleased, the King then commands the messenger to go out and find him the best thing in the entire world.
"The messenger leaves hurriedly, and once again he comes back days later with nothing in his hands. 'Where is it?' the King shouts out. Again, the messenger sticks out his tongue. 'Show me,' the King says. 'How can it be?' The messenger replies, 'My tongue is the best thing in the world, my tongue is a messenger of love. Only with my tongue can I express the overwhelming beauty of poetry. My tongue teaches me refinement in tastes and guides me to choose foods that will nourish my body. My tongue is the best thing in the world because it allows me to chant the name of God.' The King is well satisfied, and he appoints the messenger to become foremost among his personal advisors."
This week may we be be intentional about the ways we use our tongue in ways that are helpful and harmful to ourselves and others.