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  Opinion   Oped  29 May 2018  Mystic Mantra: Everything or nothing

Mystic Mantra: Everything or nothing

Published : May 29, 2018, 6:53 am IST
Updated : May 29, 2018, 6:53 am IST

The Bible has some characters who give up everything worldly in order to attain something spiritual or something of surpassing value.


I play for my country. For me, in the green and gold, it must be everything or nothing,” said Abraham Benjamin de Villiers when he announced his retirement from all forms of cricket last Wednesday. Abraham’s stress on “everything or nothing” struck me as significant. Rather than cultivate a calculative and conditional approach to life, most successful people have sacrificed everything in order to reap a rich harvest of genuine goodness and greatness. Tributes paid to AB — as he is fondly called — give proof of this.

Apart from his incredible cricketing exploits, AB’s other achievements are phenomenal. He has excelled in hockey, football, rugby, swimming, badminton and athletics at South Africa’s junior national levels, and has won a prestigious Nelson Mandela national prize for science.

Like his biblical namesake Abraham — Ibrahim in the Quran — “Abraham Benjamin” has firm faith in God. In his autobiography, he writes: “This book is not my story. It is the story of what God has planned and realised through me. I hope it can be read and understood as tales of his achievements, certainly not my personal achievements, and I would really like people to appreciate that whatever glory there may be needs to be clearly recognised as his glory, not mine.”

The Bible has some characters who give up everything worldly in order to attain something spiritual or something of surpassing value. For example, when God asks King Solomon in a dream: “Ask whatever you wish and it will be granted to you,” instead of asking for power, property or privileges, he prays: “Lord, grant me wisdom to govern your people.” Pleased, God grants him superhuman wisdom.

Two parables of Jesus — namely, the parable of the treasure in a field and the pearl of great price — tell of two men who discover a treasure hidden in a field and a priceless pearl, respectively. Overjoyed at their finds, they sell off everything they possess to buy the field and the pearl. To be heirs of the heavenly inheritance, one must sacrifice much — indeed, everything.

Two other gospel stories are worth noting. There’s this generous little lad who hands over his whole lunch of five loaves and two fishes to Jesus, who feeds a multitude by miraculously multiplying it. By contrast, when Jesus asks a youth to give up his riches to follow him, he refuses and goes away, crestfallen.

One cannot cross a chasm with a series of small jumps but can do so with a mighty leap. So it is with life. Putting our best foot forward always and everywhere will unfailingly lead to reaping rich dividends. Truly, an “everything or nothing” approach distinguishes the superstars like AB from anonymous XYZ mediocre mortals.

Tags: mystic mantra, jesus