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
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