Question: What is the first thing that is needed to advance on the spiritual path?
Mother: When a flower is still a bud, we cannot experience its beauty or fragrance. The flower first has to blossom. It is useless to try to open it by force. We have to wait patiently for the bud to unfold on its own. Then we will experience its beauty and fragrance in all its glory. So it is patience that we need before anything else. In every stone there is a potential icon lying concealed. It is when the sculptor chisels away all the unwanted parts that the divine form emerges. The stone has to offer itself to the sculptor and patiently lie before him for a long time. It is as a result of this that the beautiful form finally appears.
A stone lying on the lower plane of Sabarimala (a holy mountain, on top of which there is a famous temple) was complaining to the icon of the Lord being worshipped in the temple: “You are a stone just like me and yet you are being worshipped by everybody, while I am being trampled. What injustice is this?” The icon replied, “Now you see only the people worshipping me. But before I came here, a sculptor chiselled away at me hundreds of thousands of times. During all that time, I patiently lay before him, without the slightest resistance. It is as a result of this that I am here now and am being worshipped by millions.” It was the patience of that stone that had transformed it into an image of worship.
Everyone knows the story of Kunti and Gandhari. It is a story that teaches us the benefit that comes from patience and the harm that ensues from impatience. When Kunti gave birth to a child, Gandhari, who was pregnant at the time, was upset. She had badly longed for a child and had wanted her child to be born first, hoping that he, then, would become king. In her extreme impatience she beat her own stomach so hard that it caused her to miscarry, and she aborted a piece of flesh. Following the instruction of the sage Vyas, the piece of flesh was cut into a hundred pieces and placed in hundred urns. In due course, a hundred sons were born out of the urns. This was the origin of the Kauravas, who were the cause of the destruction of millions of people. Ganhdhari didn’t have any patience, and the result of this was the cause of so much suffering and destruction. On the other hand, what is born out of patience becomes victorious.
In spiritual life, patience is a vitally important quality. We should learn to always have the attitude of being a beginner, like that of an innocent child. Only a beginner has the patience to really learn. And he alone will have the necessary shraddha. There is a child within all of us. At present it is slumbering. We have to awaken that child. The present sense of “I” is the creation of the ego. When the sleeping child within us is awakened, innocence will be our nature. We will have the desire to learn from everything. Then patience and shraddha will follow naturally. Thus, as the child within us unfolds, his qualities will fill our whole being. Then the old “I” of the ego will no longer have a place to reside. If we always have the attitude of a beginner, every situation will be an opportunity for us to learn. If we can maintain this attitude throughout our lives, until the very end, we will not lose anything — we will gain everything.
Today, everyone only knows only the smile displayed by the teeth. But a true smile is the smile of the heart. Only with an innocent heart can we experience real joy. For this we have to awaken the heart of the innocent child within us. When we say, “If you are zero, you can become a hero,” we are referring to the illumination of the egoless child within us.