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Volume VIII - The Art of Being

Health and Order of Body and Mind

Chapter XI

There are three things which we must master during our everyday life and three ways of achieving them.

Consider the power of half an hour of concentration compared with the weakness of giving in all day. We must use concentration during the whole day. Then we can control ourselves in all the requirements of the body and of our senses, and the mind must give permission to every demand on their part without being confused in the matter. There is the beginning of the act, there is the act itself, and there is the result of the act. These three stages in the life of self-mastery or self-control bring increasing happiness and satisfaction. There is satisfaction in the thought of granting some particular desire, there is satisfaction during the time it is being granted, and there is satisfaction after it has been granted. When there is no confusion, or depression, or despair, or remorse, or repentance, then the happiness increases. There is no other proper way of directing one's life.

The various practices recommended by the mystics all have the same purpose, whether it be fasting, or stretching out the hands, or clasping the fingers, whatever it be. The mystic holds a posture for a moment, perhaps for half a minute or for fifteen minutes. Nature wants to set in motion; so, when we stop that desire and sit straight and erect, the mind at once sets a grasp on the whole body, because the whole body is now under discipline. When the body obeys the mind – that is discipline. That is why all through life our mind should be in control of all things.

The next thing to consider is the character. We must take care never to do anything that we consider a mistake, or undesirable, or actually foolish when we see another person doing it. If it is something of which we do not approve, something we cannot tolerate if another person does it, we must resist the inclination to do such an undesirable thing ourselves. This resistance to impulses is the way to control ourselves.

A more perfect way of behaving is the religious way. We must realize that the essence of every religion is to regard the God whom all are worshipping as our goal. He whom we seek is nowhere else than in the human heart. Reflecting on this thought, we come to recognize that whatever kind of person we meet – be he foolish or wise, weak or strong, poor or rich, wicked or virtuous – we are in the presence of the Lord, before whom we all bow. For if he is anywhere, it is in the human heart, even in the heart of a wicked person.

Say to yourself, 'My ideal, my religion, my desire is to please my Lord before whom I bow my head. So when I am before anyone, I am before my Lord, my God. I must take care always to be considerate and thoughtful, lest I hurt my God.' That is the real religion. If you take care not to hurt a loved one, a friend, but do not mind hurting a servant, or wicked or foolish person, that will not be real religion. Love will recognize the ideal of love, the divine ideal, in every heart, and will refrain from using words which will make another unhappy; words expressing pride, thoughtless words, sarcastic words, any word which will disturb a person's peace of mind, or hurt his sensibilities.

Therefore, when developing fineness of character, we learn to consider another person's feelings. You may consider yourself very sensitive and so you do not wish that another person should hurt or insult you, or be rough with you. You think, 'That person talks too much, he annoys me,' or you think, 'How badly he dresses.' There is a person whom you know to be sensible and understanding, whereas of another person you think that he is not so. But you must forget what you yourself think, and bethink yourself of what another person thinks. It shows a great fineness of character not to give grounds for offense to another person, but it is very difficult to attain this state.

There is no benefit in making your own life so regular and orderly that it offends every other person. It is in the consideration of another's feeling that lies the real religion.


checked 14-nov-2015