In keeping with the theme of being a tad messed up, but using the mess toward some holy end, here’s a lovely Buddhist story about the purpose of a cracked pot that reader Lisa shared on the message board of my “The Return of Enjoyment” post back in August, and reader BGG contributed to the “Charles Schulz: Melancholy and Humor” post earlier this month:
A water bearer had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, of delivering a full portion of water. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was only able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer and said, “I am ashamed of myself.” “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of his path. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”