Bayazid, the Sufi Saint, once said to his disciples: “Everyday, you must meet God. The day on which you do not meet Him is a lost day, indeed!”
The disciples said: “We have not seen God: how can we meet Him?”
Bayazid answered: “Then, everyday, you must meet someone who has seen God!”
This is the value of Saints. Saints are not separate from God. To a vast majority of people who have not seen God, a Saint is His living, moving image. It has been rightly said, God looks at us through the eyes of Saints, and speaks to us through their lips, and blesses us through their hands.
People asked Sri Ramakrishna, “Where dwelleth God?” He answered, “God dwells everywhere. But the heart of a bhakta, a Saint, a Holy one is God’s drawing room!”
How do Saints become Saints? They become so by being cheerful when it is difficult to be cheerful, patient when it is difficult to be patient. They become saints because they push on when they want to stand still, keep silent when they want to talk, and be agreeable when they want to be disagreeable. That is all!
Tame the mind
Illumination takes birth in a pure heart. Purity is a child of tapasya, self-discipline. Tapasya is of two kinds: Yama, and Niyama. Yama is control of the mind. Niyama is control of the senses. Each of the senses must be controlled. “He who conquers a city is great: he who conquers himself is mighty,” goes an ancient Chinese proverb. For self-conquest, it’s important to keep the mind in harness and every one of the senses in check.
How can the mind be controlled? A Rishi has answered this question well: “Not by physical practices may you truly control the mind”.
Here are ways to control yourself:
- Have sanga or fellowship with the pure and holy.
- Restrain trishna or desire.
- Purify your breath.
- Study Sant-bani, the words, the teachings of the pure.
I recall the words of the Upanishad: “Difficult, indeed, is self-control! You may drink the ocean dry; the mountain you may uproot, you may swallow fire. But more difficult indeed, is self-control!”
Surrender to the Master
The difficult becomes easy when the grace [kripa] of God or Satpurushas descends upon us. I read a beautiful story somewhere about an auction at which several articles were sold. The auctioneer picked up an old and damaged violin, and asked if anyone would have it. Finding the instrument in a miserable condition, people smiled. Someone shouted, “One shilling”. The crowd roared and some cried, “Let him have it!” The auctioneer paused for a while and said, “Perhaps a violinist would like to try it.”
An old man took the old violin and, placing it under his chin, played such beautiful melodies that finally the violin went for one hundred pounds.
A seemingly worthless thing can become precious in the hands of a master. Many of us feel that we are useless, worth very little or nothing: we surrender ourselves to a great Master and he reveals our hidden value and, through us, does great things with God’s grace.
What is God’s grace? Rightly has it been said, “A grain of grace sufficeth!” Out of a grain of God’s grace, the entire universe is born. The man, who has surrendered himself to God and lives by His grace, lacks nothing. We are very much like a bird that eats grain at a sanctuary [like the Kabutar Khana at Dadar, Mumbai], which is always filled with grain. The bird is anxious lest it might, by daily consumption of grain, exhaust the supplies and starve to death. The Lord says, “Have no fear, little birdie, the stock of grain is inexhaustible!” One grain of grace sufficeth.
One beautiful evening, as I took my usual walk on the campus of the Railway Trainees’ Institute at Baroda, I found hundreds of birds singing to their hearts’ content. And I said, “Birds were created to sing, and they sing. Man was created to love God: when will he give up chasing shadow-shapes and start loving God?”