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