Imaginary service

There was a rich man who was very miserly. He did many, many bad things. He committed many sins. Then, finally, he repented. He said to himself, “People say that if you take a dip in the Ganges, all your sins will go away. The Ganges is quite far from my place. I want to be purified, but at the same time, I do not want to spend the money to go to the Ganges.”

One day he heard that one of his neighbours was going to the Ganges. He had also committed many sins, but he was not rich. He was going to bathe in the Ganges so that he would be purified of all his sins. When the rich man heard that his neighbour was going to the Ganges, he gave the man some money and said, “I am not feeling well. You take this money. First you will bathe for your own purification. Then once more you will dive into the Ganges in my name. Remember me! I am giving you money so that you can dive into the Ganges in my name.”

The neighbour said, “Definitely I can do that.”

The man said, “You have to think of me. The first time you will bathe for yourself so that you will be purified of all your sins. The second time think of me, and then my sins will all go away. I will have no more sins! I will be purified while remaining here.”

The neighbour agreed completely. But a few weeks later the rich man saw that his neighbour had not yet gone to the Ganges. He asked, “Why are you not going? What have you done with my money?”

The neighbour said, “I spent it.”

“How could you spend it without going to the Ganges?” the rich man asked.

The neighbour said, “I imagined that my pond was the Ganges. I entered the water and had a very good swim. Then, the second time I went swimming, I thought of you. You gave me the money, and I spent it because I purified you of your sins. I imagined that the pond right in front of my house was the Ganges. You told me to imagine you, so I uttered your name and imagined you. And I imagined more: I imagined that my pond itself was the Ganges. The second time I swam in my pond, I thought of you. I did your work, so I spent your money.”