There were two neighbouring families that were very, very friendly and very, very kind to each other. Both the husbands and wives were extremely close. Both families were very rich as well. How did they become rich? In one family the wife prayed to the goddess of wealth, “O goddess of wealth, come and make me rich; come and make my husband rich!” Finally the goddess appeared before her, and the lady begged her, “Always stay with me.” The goddess did what she asked, and that is how that particular couple became very, very rich.
The other wife prayed to the goddess of misery, “O goddess of misery, never come to me! I want to be always happy.” The goddess of misery appeared before her and said, “I am here to inform you that I will never again come to you.” So this couple also became rich, because the goddess of misery never came to them.
It happened that when a third couple moved to the same village, the wife saw that these two other couples were very, very happy. Secretly she asked each of the two wives how they had become so rich. When they told her, she decided also to start praying to both the goddess of wealth and the goddess of misery, hoping that at least one of the goddesses would do the needful. She prayed, “O goddess of wealth, please come to me! O goddess of misery, please never come to me!”
After the wife had been praying for a few days, all of a sudden both the goddesses appeared together. The lady was so happy and delighted. She said to them, “I am so grateful that both of you have come.” In her excitement the lady mistook the goddess of wealth for the goddess of misery and said to her, “Please never come here again. I don’t want you or need you.”
Then the lady said to the goddess of misery, thinking that she was the goddess of wealth, “Please stay here. I will be so grateful to you.”
The goddess of misery said, “You want me? Fine, I will stay with you.”
The goddess of wealth said, “You don’t want me? Then I will go away forever.”
So the lady was miserable for the rest of her life. The moral of the story is that you have to know what you are praying for when God finally comes and stands in front of you. Otherwise, if you are excited, you may ask for the wrong thing.
Again, truly advanced spiritual seekers will always ask God for the right things. Vivekananda was so poor that he could not make both ends meet. When he asked Ramakrishna for wealth, Ramakrishna said to him, “I can’t ask Mother Kali for wealth, but you go and ask her.”
As soon as Vivekananda entered into the temple to pray, he could not bring himself to ask Mother Kali for money. He prayed, “Give me aspiration. Give me the voice of conscience.”
When Vivekananda returned, Ramakrishna said, “What were you doing? Why did you not ask for material wealth?”
Vivekananda then went to the temple a second time, but again he could not pray for wealth. Finally he told Ramakrishna, “I can’t ask for these kinds of material things.” This is the difference between Vivekananda and the unfortunate lady.
Ramakrishna said, “I knew, I knew that you would never be able to ask Mother Kali for material wealth. But Mother Kali is so pleased with your aspiration that she will take care of your family from now on.”
After that, Vivekananda never suffered from financial difficulties. Previously he had suffered because his relatives all stood against him and would not help him. Then, because of Mother Kali, he was able to support his family. Vivekananda was a divine soul, so he asked for the right thing and he got the right thing: spiritual wealth. Mother Kali was so pleased that she fulfilled not only his spiritual needs, but also his family’s basic material needs.