There is a beautiful little incident from the life of Aesop, the great storyteller. One day, Aesop is playing with little children, shouting and laughing with them. An Athenian [a resident of Athens] passes by: he expresses surprise that such a grown-up person should waste his time thus. In answer, Aesop picks up a bow and, unstringing it, lays it on the ground.
To the Athenian, he says, “O wise one! Tell me the meaning of this unstrung bow!” The man is perplexed. He finds no suitable answer. “I cannot solve your riddle,” he says, “tell me what it means.”
And Aesop says to him, “If you keep a bow always bent it will lose its elasticity. But if you let it go slack, it will be fitter for use when you want it.”
Are we not—many of us—like the bent bow, always highly strung? We need to unstring ourselves, to relax, from time to time, so that we may be “fitter for use” when we are called to action. And to relax we need to learn to let go.
True relaxation is resting, resting in God, until God’s shakti flows into us, fills our entire being. So it is necessary to enter into silence from time to time.
“The very first word in the Scripture of Life,” Sadhu Vaswani said, “is silence!” Sit quietly at the Lotus-feet of the Lord and gaze and gaze at His beauteous Face and, in that gaze, be lost to yourself. This it is to be still. In stillness will God’s strength flow into us, rejuvenating us, revitalising us and we shall feel as new men and women, sons and daughters of God.”
Strength of stillness
The true strength of life is the strength of stillness. The world worships the strength of action, and this is often cruel, aggressive, tainted with sordid selfishness. True strength belongs to him who has learnt to rest in God. Such a person becomes the very picture of peace. He radiates peace to a world wandering in noise and discord, hate and strife. Out of him flow healing vibrations of peace, as some calm river flowing through the desert of life. He blesses all who come to him and is himself blessed!
The hidden home
Such a man abides in the Lord, and the Lord abides in him: they dwell together in a hidden place known only to them. That hidden place is his true Home: to it he returns, again and again and in all the changing vicissitudes of life he feels safe and secure. Outside, storms may howl and thunders growl and lightnings flash: he is not afraid. Nothing upsets him. The shocks of the world are by him easily absorbed. He is ever calm, assured, at rest.
Inaction in action
But he is not idle. He is a man of activity, dedicated activity, creative activity. He works offering all his actions at the Lotus-feet of the Lord. He works as an instrument of the Will Divine. His work is worship. He achieves what the Gita calls “inaction in action.” In his life silence is blended with action: and he arrives at a stage at which, in the words of the great Chinese seer, Lao Tse, “he does nothing and everything is done!”
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