In the spiritual life, the most important, significant and fruitful thing is self-control. No self-control, no Self-realisation. In the dictionary we come across hundreds of thousands of words. Of all these words, self-control is the most difficult one to practise. How can we have self-control? If we want to have self-control, we have to surrender ourselves to the Source. This Source is Light; this Source is God.
A child wants to have many things, many useless, harmful things. But the mother knows that if she gives the child these things he will be ruined. And just because the mother and the child are one, the mother herself will also be ruined. So the mother does not fulfil the child’s countless unlit, destructive desires. Similarly, the body is a child. If we fulfil the wants and demands of the body, then in the long run our life will be ruined.
Now, why does the body not listen to us? The answer is very simple. We do not listen to our soul. If we listened to our soul, the body also would listen to us. We know that the body has a superior, which is the vital. The vital’s superior is the mind, the mind’s superior is the heart and the heart’s superior is the soul. The soul’s superior is God. The soul listens to the Inner Pilot, God, all the time. The heart very often listens to the dictates of the soul – very often, but not always. The mind practically never listens to the heart. The vital does not listen to the mind, and the body certainly does not listen to the vital. The actual problem starts with the mind, in the mind.
How can we inspire the body, the vital, the mind and the heart to enter into better and more fulfilling light? We have to know at this point that if we find fault with the body, vital, mind and heart, we can never change and transform them. But if we appreciate them, saying that they have the capacity to play a significant role in God’s cosmic Drama, that they are as important as the soul for the full manifestation of God on earth, then we can transform them. If we do not condemn the body, vital, mind and heart – on the contrary, if we tell them that they can be the chosen instruments of God, that God needs them for His divine lila (game) on earth – then eventually we can transform them. The unruly members of our family will before long feel the importance of their respective roles in the fulfilment of God’s manifestation on earth. They can and will be unified and united for the fulfilment of a single Goal.
Self-control. In self-control we need simplicity, sincerity and humility. Simplicity has to feed self-control. Sincerity has to feed self-control. Humility has to feed self-control. We can say that the breakfast of self-control is simplicity, the lunch of self-control is sincerity and the dinner of self-control is humility. Unfortunately, we are living in an age when self-control is not appreciated. It has become an object of ridicule. A man is trying hard for self-mastery. His friends, neighbors, relatives and acquaintances all mock at him. They find no reality in his sincere attempt to master his life. They think that the way they are living their lives is more worthwhile. The man who is trying to control his life is a fool, according to them. But who is the fool – he who wants to conquer himself or he who is constantly a victim of fear, doubt, worry and anxiety? Needless to say, he who wants to conquer himself is not only the wisest man but the greatest divine hero. The Commander in Chief of the cosmic gods, the divine warrior Kumar, son of Lord Shiva, fights against hostile forces, asuric forces and ignorance in the battlefield of life. He fights to establish here on earth, in the immediacy of today, the kingdom of heaven. Earlier I said that people mock when a man tries to control himself. At times we see that even spiritual Masters are ridiculed and mercilessly condemned by society. Even a spiritual figure whose heart is snow-white, whose heart is purity itself, whose life has no sting of impurity, whose very breath is the flood of purity – even he falls victim to the criticisms of the ignorant world.
This reminds me of a Zen story. There was a Zen Master who was very pure, very illumined. Near the place where he lived there happened to be a food store. The owner of the food store had a beautiful unmarried daughter. One day she was found with child. Her parents flew into a rage. They wanted to know the father, but she would not give them the name. After repeated scolding and harassment, she gave up and told them it was the Zen Master. The parents believed her. When the child was born they ran to the Zen Master, scolding him with foul tongue, and they left the infant with him. The Zen Master said, “Is that so.” This was his only comment.
He accepted the child. He started nourishing and taking care of the child. By this time his reputation had come to an end, and he was an object of mockery. Days ran into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. But there is something called conscience in our human life, and the young girl was tortured by her conscience. One day she finally disclosed to her parents the name of the child’s real father, a man who worked in a fish market. The parents again flew into a rage. At the same time, sorrow and humiliation tortured the household. They came running to the spiritual Master, begged his pardon, narrated the whole story and then took the child back. His only comment: “Is that so.”
Here I wish to say that in your spiritual life all of you are trying to conquer your lower vital. Either today or tomorrow, in the nearest future or in the most distant future, you are bound to conquer the lower vital. But in the process of your self-transformation, if people do not understand you or care for your pure life, please pay no heed to their criticism. If they do not appreciate your sincerity, your effort or your success in controlling your lower vital nature, no harm. But if you want them to appreciate and admire your attempt, then you are unnecessarily bringing into your life not only their criticism and disbelief, but doubt and temptation as well. Each human being unconsciously embodies criticism, disbelief, doubt and temptation. On the one hand, you are trying to transcend yourself on the strength of your aspiration; on the other hand, you are bringing other people’s temptation into your life, and with that temptation you are unconsciously trying to feed your lower nature.
So I want you to try to be sincere to yourself. Let the world find fault with you. Let the world bark at you. Your sincerity is your safeguard. Your spiritual discipline will lead you to your destined Goal. Who is the king? Not he who governs a country, but he who has conquered himself. Everybody has the capacity and opportunity to become a king if he wants to. God has given him ample opportunity and boundless capacity to be the king not only of the length and breadth of this world, but of the entire universe.
– Sri Chinmoy, Eastern Light For The Western Mind
A great spiritual Master once asked his close disciples to come and meditate with him. When they came and sat in front of him, he said, “Today I have a special request to make, and I hope each of you will fulfil my request. God has made a serious mistake, and I want all of you to help me in rectifying the mistake.”
Some of the disciples bowed down, puzzled, while others burst into laughter. Then the Master said, “I am serious. Please take me seriously, all those who are laughing. And others, I am telling you not to be so puzzled. You will see that this is something truly illumining.
“You know that in God’s creation there are tigers, lions, bears and other animals that eat only meat. Again, in God’s creation there are also cows, buffaloes, goats and animals that eat only grass and leaves. Now, why should it be that one party will eat only meat while another party will eat only grass? Let us have both parties eat both meat and grass. Or let us reverse it, so the tiger, lion and bear will eat grass and the cow, buffalo and goat will eat meat. In this way we shall fulfil them.” Again, some of the disciples laughed; others grew more puzzled.
The Master continued, “There is nothing to laugh at, and there is nothing to be puzzled over. Now, for God’s sake help me.”
“What kind of help would you like?” asked the disciples. “We don’t understand.”
“You don’t understand?” said the Master. “Is it such a difficult thing that I am speaking about? In a family one brother may be sick and another may be healthy and strong. So the mother will not give the same food to both. To the one who is really sick the mother will give one type of food and to the one who is strong and stout the mother will give another type.
“Again, usually we eat ordinary food at home, but when a relative or friend comes, we make a special meal. Now, rich people eat richer, more fattening food. Poor people, on the other hand, eat simple food. When rich people come, I try to give them rich food because they are in the habit of eating it. But since you people have accepted the spiritual life, an austere life, you do not need that kind of food. Still, some of you feel miserable that I don’t give you the same food that I give rich people. But God is not that kind of communist. He feels that what you need is best for you and what I need is best for me. Your needs are different from my needs. That does not mean that either your need or my need is superior or inferior. Only we are meant for two different things.
“So God wants to please each individual in his own way. If for everybody God has to do the same thing, then individuals will start doing everything wrong. Everybody has to perform his own role and fulfil God’s Will in God’s own Way. Some of you find fault with me because to some I give rich food, to others I give simple food. To some I give a smile, to others I don’t give a smile. Always you find fault, wondering why I am not doing the same thing for each person. But all human beings cannot be treated in the same way, if one really cares for humanity’s progress. Even in a family each member has to be treated differently so that he can make the best progress. It is absolutely necessary that a little child be treated one way and a grownup another. The child cannot be treated like an older person and an older person cannot be treated like a child.
“Each soul evolves, starting from the stone life. From the stone consciousness it goes to the animal world and then to the human world. Many of us once upon a time were tigers, lions and bears or cows, buffaloes and goats, and the food was different for each of us. Each one has to eat according to his own nature. Some people eat ignorance-food, some people eat knowledge-food. People who need aspiration are of one type, and those who need desire are of another type. So aspiration-lovers and desire-lovers cannot go together. They have to be kept separately, like the animals who need different food. That is how all parts of God’s creation fit together and that is why God’s creation is perfect. God wants to be pleased in many ways by many people, and each individual in His infinite creation is pleasing God in the special way that God wants to be pleased.”
At this point two of the Master’s disciples came forward and bowed down to the Master, saying, “You have read our mind. This morning we were criticising you because you gave rich people richer food than poor people. We felt that you were partial to some and cruel and indifferent to others. Now we see that you are neither partial nor indifferent; you favour neither the rich nor the poor. You are only dealing with each individual according to his necessity. Now we have understood. Please forgive us.”
The Master said, “I have already forgiven you. That’s why I took the time to illumine you. Had I not forgiven you, I would not have taken the time to illumine you. And I am saying this in front of the others so that they do not make the same deplorable mistake.
“Live in the sea of my love. Then only there will be no confusion, no misunderstanding and no problem. Nothing can separate you from my love, from my oneness and from my satisfaction in you, if you please me in my own way.”
An aging Master grew tired of his apprentice complaining and so, one morning, sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. “How does it taste?” the master asked. “Bitter,” spit the apprentice.
The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake.
As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?” “Fresh,” remarked the apprentice. “Do you taste the salt?” asked the master. “No,” said the young man.
At this the master sat beside this serious young man, who so reminded him of himself, and took his hands, offering:
“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Be a Lake!”
Once an elderly lady was illumining her grandchildren by telling them stories. The grandchildren wanted to hear stories from their grandmother, so she decided to tell them a beautiful story. She said, “We human beings use the term ‘mother’ to refer to the one from whom we came into existence. We also call a cow ‘mother’ because it is associated with the cosmic gods. Again, we speak about ‘Mother Earth.’ So there are three mothers. These three mothers help us at each step of life.
“When we are born, we take our mother’s milk for some time. Then we take cow’s milk, and then we eat vegetables that we get from Mother Earth. Mother Earth produces food and we eat her food. We appreciate, admire and adore these three mothers, but we have to see them in a different light and deal with each of them in a different way. They can’t be put together.
“The physical mother cannot eat the same food that nourishes Mother Earth. The earthly ground needs cow dung and manure for its food. Again, the cow cannot live on human milk or be kept in a house. And a human mother cannot live on grass or be put in a cow shed.
“Each of the three mothers has her own way of pleasing us. No one can please us at every moment in our own way. Even your own father cannot please you at every moment in your own way. He has many interests in life. He has to go to work, he has to mix with his friends and there are so many things that he has to do. So do not expect the same thing from each individual, and do not expect everyone to please you in your own way. Also, do not think that you will be able to change the respective roles of human beings. If people are doing different things, you cannot just change them. Each one has to do his and her duty in a different way. And it is you who have to receive from each individual according to the way that he wants to give, not according to the way that you want that person to give.
“Your mother is your friend, the cow is your friend and earth is your friend. But you cannot ask these three friends to always help you all at the same time or to change their respective roles. So, my grandchildren, when your mother gives you something, be happy at the time she gives and feel that this is the only way you can be satisfied. And when the cow gives you milk or when Mother Earth gives you something in the form of food and fruits, you have to be satisfied in the same way. Accept everything from each individual in the way the individual wants to give it, and never expect all earthly beings collectively to please you in your own way. Be happy with what you get, and make others happy in your cheerful acceptance.”
– Sri Chinmoy, http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com
One day a spiritual Master was meditating with some of his disciples and a few seekers. After about twenty minutes, he looked around and said, “Is there anyone who would like to ask me a spiritual question?” One disciple raised his hand and asked, “Master, could you please say something about your disciples’ spiritual development?”
“My child,” replied the Master, “I can only tell you that I love all my spiritual children dearly, no matter what their level of spiritual attainment may be.”
“Please tell us more,” begged the disciples. “Can you tell us more about the different levels of development?”
The Master paused. “Let me tell you a story,” he said. “Once there were three dolls. These dolls were conscious dolls. One was made of sugar, one was made of cloth and one was made of burnt stone. Now it happened that each of these dolls entered into the sea. When the one that was made of sugar entered into the sea, it totally dissolved. The second doll entered into the sea, and came out fully soaked. Then the third doll entered bravely into the sea. When it came out it just shook its body, and not a trace of water was left on it.
There also, my children, I have three types of disciples. One type, when he enters into the ignorance-sea, is totally lost, totally melted. When the second type enters into the ignorance sea, he is able to come out. But ignorance is all around his consciousness. He still carries ignorance with him. The third type enters into ignorance bravely and fights against ignorance. He not only comes out victorious, but he also takes up the challenge of transforming ignorance into wisdom-light.
“I do hope one day all of my disciples will fit into the third category: brave soldiers of the Supreme entering into the sea of ignorance like warriors, fighting against ignorance and coming out victorious, and finally changing ignorance-sea into wisdom-light.”
The disciples bowed down to their Master and said, “You have inspired and illumined us. We shall all strive from now on to become brave soldiers of your mission, soldiers of the Supreme, fighting against the forces of ignorance and ultimately transforming them.”
– Sri Chinmoy, http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com