Agathao was going on a journey with his disciples. As they traveled, they came upon a small bag of green peas on the road. One of the disciples asked Agathao, “Do you want me to pick it up?” Agathao asked the disciple if he had put the bag of peas on the ground. “No,” the disciple replied.
Then Agathao said, “Why do you want to pick up something you did not put down?” (DF. Book 4, Saying eight)
One of the ancient principles of the spiritual life is “mind your own business.” We foster confusion in ourselves and others—and we may even do harm—when we try to do someone else’s business. For one thing, we don’t really know what their business is. We can never perfectly judge another person’s actions, much less their motives. And besides that, another person’s business is not any of our business.
I have spent a lot of my life picking up small bags of peas that I did not lay down. Sometimes, the bags are quite large and heavy. In every case, the Spirit asks, “Did you put the bag down?” And when I say, “No,” the Spirit continues, “Then why do you feel the need to pick it up?” Good question.
The ancients refused to do someone else’s business—either by talking about it, judging it, or taking it over. We can only imagine how much less gossip, condemnation, competition and confusion there would be eliminated if we learned to mind our own business.