Helping a Schoolmate

[Listen to Asha read this story]

As a child, Donald’s [Swamiji’s] health was precarious. “I was thin as a pencil and always coming down with something unusual,” he says. When he was nine, living with his parents in Rumania, Donald nearly died of colitis. The doctor recommended that he be sent to Switzerland where, he said, the mountain air would make him healthy. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well as had been hoped. Donald spent many weeks ill in bed.

Usually, now, what he had was a kidney infection, which was sometimes quite severe. Donald was more than once confined to his bed for three days at a time on a diet of zwiebach (dry bread) and vichy water. This lack of food, plus the infection, left him so weak he could barely stand.

A schoolmate coveted some object Donald owned. Seeing his weakened condition, this boy assumed the thing could be his for the taking. He went into Donald’s room, boldly snatched the coveted item, and ran away.

Much to his surprise, Donald jumped out of bed and ran after him, catching him on the landing. He snatched the article back then staggered back upstairs to bed.

“I don’t even remember what the item was,” Swamiji says now. “If the boy had asked for it, I would probably have given it to him. But I couldn’t accept his taking advantage of me when I was weak and vulnerable, because it wasn’t good for him to commit such an injustice, or to think he could mistreat others and get away with it.”

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