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 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 and mountains; you must stay where you are. If you ran away and lived in the caves and 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 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 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 greatest spirituality.
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, or who have a master, whom they must please, has less opportunity to following what is not desirable.
Reading the life of Shiva, the Lord of all 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 form 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 great powers 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. (more…)