If you are the master of a great factory, and all the
machines work by your will, are you happy, restful and peaceful
when you come home? You may be the master of a whole army
or of a whole nation, or of many nations – when you are
at home, are you peaceful and happy? The answer is 'no,'
and this shows us that another mastery is needed. A man
may be the master of a whole army, but if he has a stroke
or paralysis all of his mastership is gone and he can do
nothing. It shows us that this mastership is passing. Mastery
of the self is needed. It is not more difficult to gain
than the other mastership, but a man will never give as
much will power and spend as many years to master the
self as he does to master a factory, because the results
are much less tangible. A factory means: so many pounds tomorrow. The results
of the other mastery are much subtler, much less perceptible.
This mastery is taught by those who are born to be masters,
to those who are inclined this way. It is taught by repose
and by control of the activity, which keeps everything in
this universe in movement.
This mastery is difficult to gain in the world. At every
step it becomes more difficult, but you cannot run away
to the caves in the mountains; you must stay where you are.
If you ran away and lived in the caves in the mountains, the
attractions of the world would draw you back again. In running
away there is no safety; you would try to be content in
the mountains, but your eyes would long to see the world
again, your taste, which was used to different food, nice
food, would not be satisfied with leaves and fruits.
Life in the world, which brings a person into contact
with all sorts of undesirable people and affairs, makes
spirituality more difficult, but at the same time it affords
a test of the will and of spirituality. One may be more spiritual
in a cave in the mountains, in silence and in solitude,
but there one will never be able to test one's spirituality:
whether it is strong enough to bear the contact of a contrary
environment. To be ready for all responsibilities and all
activities, to have a family, friends and cares, to pay
attention to friends, to server friends and enemies, to say to the
worldly person, 'I can do all that you do, and more than
that,' and at the same time remain spiritual – that is the
To be without cares or occupations may make spirituality
easier, but when the mind is not occupied very undesirable
thoughts and desires come. It is mostly those who have no
work and no occupation who lead an undesirable life.
Those who have an occupation, or who have a master, whom they
must please, has less opportunity to following what is not
Reading the life of Shiva, the Lord of all the Yogis,
one will see that after a long, long time of Yoga he was
tempted. Likewise Vishvamitre Rishi, after a very long time of Yoga
in the wilderness, was tempted by the fair ones from Indra,
the decree of whose court has always been to hinder the
advancement in spirituality of the rare ones. Though Machandra
was a very great Yogi, he also was tempted and taken away
from the desert by Mahila, a Hindu queen. Brought to her
court he was married and made king, and among the flattering
surroundings and luxurious environments he lost all his
achieved in the heart of the wilderness. It is easier to
gain mastery in the wilderness, away from all temptations,
but the mastery you gain in the world is of much more value;
for the former is easily thrown down by a slight stroke,
while the latter, achieved in the crowd, will last forever.
The world will always call you away, because whatever
a person does he wants to take his friend with him. If he
drinks, he will say, 'Come and drink with me.' If he gambles,
he will say, 'Come, let us gamble together, and enjoy ourselves.'
If he goes to the theatre, he will say, 'Come with me, let
us go to the theatre, we shall enjoy it.' So the world,
busy with its selfish, unimportant occupations, will surely
drag you towards itself.
This can only be overcome by the will. A person must
have a will, and he must have confidence in his will. This
idea is pictured by Hindu poets as a swimmer swimming against
the tide. They picture the world as Bhavasagara,
the sea of life, and the swimmer in it is the mystic, who
attains perfection by swimming against the tide, who in
the end arrives on the shore of perfection.
In all our business and occupations we should keep our
thought fixed upon God. Then, in all our business, whatever
it is, we shall see only God. Our mistake is that we take
responsibility for the sake of responsibility, and recognize
cares and business as ours – losing the thought of God.
The Sufis, considering their life as a journey toward
the spiritual goal, recite in order to awaken their group
to this idea, 'Hosh bar dam, nazar bar qadam, khalwat
Which means: let the breath be God-conscious at each
swing; watch thy steps and realize who walks, keeping thine
eyes lowered that the tempting world may not attract them;
realize thyself amid this crowd of the world of variety.