Say a man plants a sapling. After five days, he uproots the sapling to see if its roots have grown. Then he plants it again. He then uproots it again after five days to check the roots and replants it. Finally, the plant dies. This is what happens when we run all over the place in search of God. Just when our roots begin to grow, we start thinking, “I’m not gaining anything here. If I go over there I may get more.” What we really need is patience.
A bird was sitting on the mast of a ship. It wanted to go to the same destination as the ship. The ship was moving slowly. After a little while he thought, “Why don’t I try flying north so I can reach the shore?” So the bird started flying south, but after a while its wings became thoroughly exhausted, so it returned to the ship and sat on the mast again. After a while, he again became impatient and started flying east. Again, he soon became fatigued and returned to the ship. Soon, the impatient bird flew west, but returned when he was exhausted. Within a few days, the ship reached land, and the bird happily flew off. The bird could have just rested on the ship instead of flying around and wasting his energy. Was there any need to fly? No. Similar is the state of those who run around from place to place looking for God. Patience and surrender are what we need to cultivate.
Some people have told Amma, “When I went to another place, they said that the mind is the cause of all sorrow. I really liked that.” In fact, Amma has already said so many times, “My children, the mind is the cause of sorrow.”
There was a man who would always tell his Guru that he experienced so much sorrow.
The master replied, “My son, all your sorrow is in your mind.”
The man was frustrated, “That is easy for you to say Master! I am the one who has to suffer!”
The next day, when the man came again to see the Master, he saw him clinging to a tree covered with thorns. He was yelling, “I am in so much pain, so much pain… so much pain!”
The man was confused. He asked, “Master, what are you doing? Aren’t you the one holding on to the tree?”
Again the Guru screamed, “I am in so much pain… so much pain!”
The disciple yelled back, “Master! You are the one holding the tree. Just let go of that tree and you’ll be fine! Let go and climb down!”
The Master immediately let go of the tree and climbed down. He then said, “You say that my actions are foolish. I have been telling you the same thing for so many years, but you never listen to me!”
“Children, the mind is the cause of your sorrow.” Amma has been saying this and similar stories. This same devotee had heard these stories and points a thousand times, yet when he heard the same thing somewhere else just one time, he said, “Wow! That is interesting.”
So, is he actually listening to what Amma is saying? That is essential. This is the way the mind works. If the person had paid attention to what Amma was saying while being next to Amma, he would have understood that. All Masters have said, “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am Brahman) and “Tat Twam Asi,” (You are that). Disciples then perform constant shravanam, mananam and nidhidyasanam (listening, reflection and internalization), and through this process, they reach the depths of these statements.
In those days, disciples had the patience required to do this. Amma knows that today we don’t have this patience. Yet, just as a hen breaks large pieces of grain into smaller bits for her chicks, just like one can use a small key to open a big box of gems, Amma has tried to explain these principles through very simple examples. This is the only way people will be able to understand and assimilate these principles. You have to break a boulder into little pieces in order to use it as gravel. Disciples today need principles to be made extremely simple in order for them to understand. This is what Amma does.
Even then, there are people who still run around. For a true disciple, even a single word is enough, provided they listen with attention and awareness. All they need to do is contemplate on that single word. But, disciples today are like premature infants. They are living in the middle of a supermarket. If we put sugar on a person’s tongue, it would be difficult for them not to salivate. It takes a lot of effort to convert sewage water into drinking water. Amma understands Her children’s state. But, no matter what Amma does, people still keep running around.
Once, a boy was in a rush to go to school. His new pair of pants was a few inches too long and needed to be hemmed. If he wore them as they were, they would drag on the floor. So, he went to his mother and said, “Mom, I really like these pants and I want to wear them today. Could you cut and stitch them for me?” She replied, “I really have to go to work. I have to leave right now. I don’t have time.” So the boy went to his father and asked, “Dad, could you please make my pants three inches shorter?” His father also said that he had to go to work. He then asked his sister, but she said that she had to go to college. Then the boy approached their maid and asked her, but she said, “I have feed the pets, clean the house and cook for everyone, so where’s the time to stitch?”
Finally, the boy gave up and went to school in another pair of pants. When the boy came back from school he saw that his pants now looked like underwear! What happened? When the father came back from work, he cut three inches off the pants. When the mother came home, she also cut three inches off the pant. When his sister came home, she trimmed the pants even further. A little while later, the maid finished her housekeeping and she also reduced the boy’s pants a few inches. Finally, the pants had been cut so much, they had become like a pair of underwear!
The boy wanted to make the pants more attractive, but instead, they became even uglier. Similarly, when we keep running around, we don’t become fixed anywhere. We keep on moving from one place to another. In order to assimilate anything, a disciple needs patience.