1. The simpler solution
[Amma: “Changing external things is extremely difficult; it is much easier to change our internal mindset to face the external circumstances.”]
Once a king went for a relaxed walk along with his minister barefooted. A sharp thorn pricked his foot and the king was hurt. Out of pain and instant anger the said, “Don’t you know that I take casual walk in this place? How can there be a thorn in the path I walk? The whole country is mine and I can opt to walk anywhere any time at my own convenience. I don’t want such a thing to happen again. By tomorrow, you shall have all the roads in this country to be carpeted; your head will roll if you don’t do this”.
The minister was furlorn to hear the command. He could not sleep over night. It was obvious to him that what the king ordered was not practical to implement and he was sure to get beheaded. He made up his mind to talk frankly to the king the next morning.
Early morning we went to meet the king and said, “Your majesty; I could not arrange to do carpeting of all the roads in the the entire country as per your order; consequently, you are free to behead me as per your dictum yesterday. Before I die, may I just make a suggestion? Instead of carpeting the whole city, will it not be prudent if you wear shoes before going for a walk?”
2. Unwanted curiosity
[Amma: “Bringing useless and purposeless thoughts into the mind and indulging in them for long has become the habit of people today.”]
Once a man, putting on specs was reading a newspaper in the morning. He kept the newspaper very close to the eyes, then pushed it away from his eyes, kept it sideways etc and trying to read it. It looked obvious that he was struggling to read the newspaper. He bent himself over the newspaper, lifted it up above and still he was not able to read it properly.
His neighbor, who was observing all these for a while, asked him, “What happened? Aren’t your glasses alright? Perhaps your eyesight has deteriorated over the years and may be it is time for a checkup and change the glasses”.
The man said, “My eyesight is quite alright; in fact, I don’t even need glasses to read the paper. The glasses I am wearing now are not mine. When I went for the morning walk today, these specs were lying on the road; I picked up and brought with me; I am now wearing them and testing how they are!”
[Amma: “Most of us are like this man who is undergoing suffering by wearing the glasses that are in no way useful to him.”]
(Tamil Matruvani Nov 2015)
3. The Patient listener – 2
Once a famous sadhu was invited by people to deliver a series of lectures on dharma, right conduct and living. The first day, some 200 people had gathered to listen to the talk. One the second day, most of them turned up again, but he repeated the same subjects that he talked about the previous day. On the third day, the audience had dropped down considerably but again he delivered his lecture exactly in the same way he did in the previous days. One the fourth day, there was just one person only in the hall to listen to the talk.
On that day, he changed the subject and talked about more things.
At the end of the session, the sole listener went to the sadhu and said, “Sir, why didn’t you change the subject on the second day itself? If you had done that, people would have continued to come to your lecture and got benefited by it. Why did you change the subject only today when I was the only listener?”
The sadhu said, “I not only give lectures but also watch people’s reactions; I know people did not follow the things that I taught them in their lives. So, I felt compelled to repeat what I said again. However I was watching you and I understood that you are at least listening to my words and acting upon them. I saw you helping an extremely poor man with food and money yesterday. Today I saw you leaving your footwear at a wrong place as you entered the hall and the watchman scolded you for it; without arguing with him, you immediately removed your footwear and put it in a different place. It is precisely such behavioural changes that I was expecting from people when they listened to my lectures. I felt very glad that my teachings are working at least on one person like you. That’s why I changed the topic today!”
4. Good intentions alone won’t help
[Amma: “One’s next birth depends on one’s thoughts arising in mind at the moment of death. But whatever thoughts that come out at the death bed depends on one’s innate nature developed and formed as mental impressions of one’s past life”.]
Once there lived an intelligent and rich businessman. He believed in the Hindu culture that uttering God’s name would lead one to good life. He named all his children with names of God. His plan was that at the time of death (like the infamous Ajamila** mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam) he could call out any of his sons by name and thus attain moksha.
When he was in deathbed and felt his death was nearing, he called out his sons “Rama, Govinda, Narayana!” All his sons were taking care of the family business (a shop) and they came rushing in. When he saw all the three of them together. He became angry. He shouted angrily at them: “If all of you come like this together, who will look after our shop?” With such a worldly thought in mind and words, he breathed his last!
** [Ajamila was a normal worldly person, who had named his son ‘Narayana’. When he was at deathbed, he wanted to tell something to his son and called out Narayana. At that very moment, he breathed his last. The messengers of God of death (Yama) came to drag his soul; at the same time, hearing his call, Lord Narayana too sent his messengers to fetch the soul of Ajamila. Since Narayana was the supreme God, messengers of Yama could not take Ajamila’s soul to their destination where he would be judged based his sins and good deeds. Lord Narayana’s messengers took him to Narayana and thus Ajamila was lucky to get the blessings of Lord Narayana, even though his calling out the lord’s name was totally inadvertent!]
(Source: ‘Sambhashanangal’-Malayalam- Part 2)
5. Whither the market?
[Amma: “Even in nature, you will find plants and animals strive to live with optimism a life in full against all odds. It is human beings who lack faith and confidence. That’s why they get into sorrow. Amma will tell you a story she has heard”]
Long ago, a footwear manufacturing company sent two salesmen to a distant island where tribal people were living. The company wanted to explore sales opportunities in that island for their footwear products.
The two salesmen went by boat to reach the island and went around in two directions to make their independent assessments. They returned to the mainland by evening and sent telegrams to their company giving their individual feedback.The first salesman messaged: “No one in this island know what a footwear is; they had never worn any nor have any need for it as they were living like this for centuries. There is no scope to pitch a sales to them and convince them. Hence I am returning to head quarters“.
The second salesman messaged: “People have never worn footwears here in this island nor know its use. Hence there is a great potential to sell footwear here. Please send a large lot of footwear by sea freight immediately and I shall start selling them right away“.
(Source: Arul Mozhigal-9 Tamil)
6. The true colors
[Amma: “Habits and vasanas being carried by us across several births are very strong indeed. It is not easy to get rid of them. They are very powerful. When an appropriate moment comes, they raise up their heads strongly however much we try and keep them under check”.]
Once there were two young and charming children — a brother and sister, who used to go to their neighbor’s house for playing. The neighbors were very fond of these children and enjoyed spending their time playing with them. One day, these children dressed themselves like a king and queen. They had cardboard crowns decorated with silvery and golden shaded papers to adore their heads.
They went to the neighbor’s house and knocked at the door. “The lady in the house asked: “Who is it?”
The children said, “We are the king and queen of the country; we have come to visit your house”.
The amused lady decided to play with them in the same tune; She opened the door, bowed before the children and said, “Oh, welcome your majesty! How fortunate I am to have you as a guest in my house! Had I known earlier that you are coming, I would have arranged a red-carpet welcome for you!”
The children said, “It is okay; It is enough if you take us inside and offer us refreshments”.
The lady respectfully took the children inside, arranged two chairs for them and said, “Respected king and queen may please be seated in this golden throne please!” The ‘king’ and ‘queen’ took their seats.
The lade went inside and brought a plate containing biscuits and two cups of milk. She placed them on a stool in front of the children and said, “I humbly request the king and queen to take my offering please!”
The biscuits in the plate were made in the shapes of various animals — lions, tigers, deers, cows, goats, crocodiles, oxen, dogs, fish, ducks and so on. The king and queen vied with each other two pick up the various biscuits; if the ‘king’ picked one lion, the ‘queen’ too would pick one. If the queen piked one dog, the king too would search frantically to locate a dog and pick it. Finally there was one elephant shaped biscuit only lying in the plate and there was no duplicate piece available. Both the king and queen wanted to possess that piece and they jumped over the plate to grab that piece! But the queen was smart enough to grab it first!
The king could not tolerate the defeat! He got angry. He tried to forcefully remove the elephant from the queen’s hand and could not succeed. Seething in anger, he picked up the glass of milk and poured it on the queen; the queen too retaliated. The king started attacking the queen by throwing the ‘wild animals’ on her! Soon both of them were rolling on the floor fiercely engaging in wrestling. In the melee, their cardboard crowns fell away. Their royal dresses were getting torn!
Thus the ‘royal couple’ who were dignity personified at the time of entering the house became normal children in fighting for the biscuit pieces!
(Source: Arul Mozhigal-9 Tamil)
7. The right solution
[Amma: “If you clearly perceive your own mistakes, then you will take steps to remove them. Only when you become aware of them, you realize how bad they are. Recently Amma came to know of this real life story….”]
The manager of a hospital was facing a problem of keeping their elevator clean. Many visitors to the hospital had the habit of chewing tobacco/gutka. They get the urge to spit their saliva and many people shamelessly spat inside the elevator too at the corners. Thus cleaning the elevators frequently became a problem for the administration.
In a meeting of the hospital administrators, this issue was discussed, in order to find a workable solution to prevent people from spitting inside elevator.
Finally, a novel idea was implemented. 4 mirrors were placed on the 4 corners of the elevator. People who get the urge to spit inside the elevator will have to necessarily see their faces in the mirror and they could realize that it looks distasteful to do it! Hence people stopped spitting inside the elevator and the cleaning issue was solved once for all!
(Source: Arul Mozhigal-8 Tamil)
8. Like Whom?
Once a traveller was walking along a street in a small town. He saw an extremely beautiful mansion in the street. Attracted by its grandeur, he stood in front of it and gazed it with admiration for a while.
A person from the house came out and asked the on-looker: “What are you looking at?”
The traveller said, “It is a very beautiful mansion! I am just marvelling at it!”
The man said, “Well, I am the lucky owner of the house”.
“Is that so? Very glad to know”.
“You know how I got it? I have an elder brother who presented this mansion for me”.
“Now Sir, please be frank. Are you not thinking right now ‘How wonderful it would be if only I have an elder brother like him’ ?” asked the owner of the house.
The traveller smiled and said, “No. I was thinking: ‘How wonderful it would be if I were like the elder brother’!”
[Amma: “True joy comes by giving; not in receiving”]
9. Reforming the world?
[Amma (Addressing a pseudo-sanyasin): “My son, Before correcting yourself, if you try to correct others or the world, nothing would come out of it. The saffron cloth you are wearing is not meant to give you good looks nor to fetch you respect from others. It is meant to remind you constantly of your true goal in life; it should not contribute to boost your ego. Rather it should destroy your ego.”]
Once there lived an old man who loved to talk of his past to his friends.
He said, “In my youth, I was proud that I knew many things; I was confident that I could accomplish whatever I wanted. I was trying my best to correct others and their ignorance. I prayed, “Oh God, give me the power to correct the world”. As days and years passed, I realized that I had reached my middle age and thus lost half of my life. I could clearly see that I had not achieved anything personally in my life, nor could I correct anyone in my life.
“Then I prayed to God, “My lord, please give me the power to correct at least those who are close and dear to me”. I sincerely felt that it was my duty to correct the wrongs in others who are around me. Years have passed and now I have become old. Nowadays, my prayer is only this: “My lord, please give me enough powers at least to correct my own faults!”
(From Arul Mozhigal-6 – Tamil)
10. Outsmarting the opponent
[Amma: “In politics and business, the competition existing to outsmart the opposition is very strong and also problematic indeed. In order to gain upper hand, it becomes inevitable for them to overpower, control and manipulate the opponent. People even resort to unrighteous means, ignoring basic human values. “]
A rich man was once caught in a litigation. As the case was progressing, he felt that his side was weak and he may lose the case. He did not want it to happen; he wanted to win the case by hook or crook, even if it were to be by way of corrupting the judge and turning the judgement to his favor.
The rich man inquired about the judge’s habits and he came to know that the judge was very fond of playing golf. He suggested to his advocate to buy a very costly set of golf game accessories and present to the judge. Shocked, the advocate said, “No! Never think of such ways. The judge is a very honest person; he takes pride in his honesty and would never accept any bribe. In fact, if you ever try to bribe him, the case could very well turn to be totally unfavorable to you”. Hearing this, the rich man became pensive.
After a few days, the judgement was announced. It was in favour of the rich man. He arranged a party to thank his advocate. The rich man said, ” I should really thank you for the timely warning you gave about the danger of bribing the judge. Actually, I did present the golf set to the judge, but I sent it across mentioning that it was a gift being sent by our opposite party!”
(From Arul Mozhigal-7 Tamil)
11. No way!
[Amma: “In the present day husband and wife relationship, there is no give and take. Both lack patience. Hence there is no progress in relationship; only repulsion is there! Only positive and negative poles in magnets can attract each other. If both poles are either positive or negative, they end up only in repulsing each other”.]
Once two cars came opposite to each other in a very narrow lane, where there was not enough width for two cars to pass side by side. Unless one car took reverse to the end of the lane so as to give way to the other car, there was no way they could move forward.
Both the drivers of the cars started arguing. Each one wanted the other driver to take reverse. Neither of them were willing to yield.
The first driver got out of the car, walked to a nearby teas stall and started sipping a cup of tea. Seeing this, the other driver too got out, bought a cigarette and started smoking. After finishing his tea, the first driver noticed that the second driver had not done anything; he bought a newspaper and started reading it.
After noticing that the first driver was not taking any action, the second driver finished his smoke, came to the tea stall, ordered some snacks and started eating them leisurely!
Hours went by as both did not want to budge to the demand of the other. It was a matter of prestige for them. Thus they could not move forward in their path.
(Beach satsang Mon 16/1/2017)
12. Ineffective treatment!
[Amma: “Life is a blessing. But instead of using our discrimination to choose the right, we choose the wrong and suffer”.]
Once a man was suffering from an eye disease as well as stomach pain.He went to consult a doctor. The doctor, after examining him, prescribed some eye drops and also a bottle of another medicine for his stomach pin. He instructed him to apply a few drops of the medicine for the eye and take a spoonful of the medicine for the stomach.
After coming home and the time came for taking the medicines, the patient got confused. Which bottle for which ailment? He took an spoonful of eye drops and drank it. He dropped a few drops of the stomach medicine into his eyes! On account of this, both his ailments got accentuated and he had to suffer much more!
[Amma: “We are like the patient in this story, confused always about our choices in life. The topmost priority to be given to our life is to realize our Atman — our real nature, through intense practice. We should give only a secondary importance to our boy and its needs. But we behave like changing the medicine! The effort needed to realize the atman is given to take care of the body!”]
13. Impermanence is mithya
[Amma: “Mithya does not mean non-existent, but impermanent. Everything in life is constantly changing. Only Atman is real and unchanging. According to Vedanta, our life is dreamlike”.]
Once an extremely poor young man was suffering without food, shelter and clothing. He was sitting by the side of the road, feeling extremely depressed about his condition in life.
Suddenly there was a big commotion. An elephant was coming in the road with a garland in his trunk and lots of people including soldiers were following it.
The elephant came near the poor man and put the garland over his neck. There was a huge jubilation with this happened. He was told that the king of the country had died without a heir and it was decided, as per traditions followed in that country, to appoint whomsoever the king’s elephant garlands would be made the king.
The young man was carried with lot of fanfare to the palace. He was bathed, draped in the finest of royal clothes, adored with golden and diamond ornaments and crowned as the king of the country in a grand celebration.
Thus, overnight, the poor man’s life took an unpredictable and unimaginable turn! From utter poverty, he started rolling in royal luxury and he was enjoying every moment of it! Soon proposals came to get him married to a princess of another country too.
This is indeed what is known as mithya. The ways by which maya plays its delusive game is very unpredictable.
(Monday beach Satsang 23/1/2017)
14. Selfish prayers
[Amma: “Amid theists, there are many people whose faith in God is just shallow. Their dealings with God are just for getting his grace for enjoying worldly pleasures. They will always have their doubts and also be unhappy and dissatisfied! Their prayers will be with selfish motive only — to get fleeting things or to complain about petty issues. True love and devotion would be missing; only selfishness, greed and hatred (against their adversaries) would dominate their prayers”.]
Once a man invited a Sadhu to his house. His wife had died recently and wanted the Sashu to conduct specific prayers for getting peace for the departed soul. The sadhu conducted worship to God and made his prayers saying, “Let everyone in this world live happily; let there not be suffering anywhere; let peace prevail everywhere; let prosperity swell everywhere; let every soul attain liberation”.
Hearing this, the householder intervened: “Swami, I was expecting you to pray for my wife’s soul to attain peace. But you did not utter even her name; can’t you pray for my wife exclusively?”
The sadhu said, “I cannot pray just for your wife alone. My guru has taught me that whatever and whenever I pray, it should be for the good of the entire universe. The scriptures of of the religious school that I belong to also teaches us the same way. In fact, when we pray for the wellbeing of all, naturally your wife’s soul will also benefited for sure. Sorry, I can’t pray just for an individual”.
The sadhu did not yield to the repeated appeals of the householder. Finally, with no other go, the householder said, “Okay Swami, Please go ahead in your own way. But just make sure that my neighbor is excluded from the benefits of your prayers!”
(Source: Arul Mozhigal-6 Tamil)
15. How human beings got 100 years as lifespan!
After one pralaya (dissolution of the universe), Lord Brahma started another round of creation. He created different types of creatures — plants, insects, Animals and so on and he was about to finalize the lifespan of each creature.
He called man first and told him that he had decided to give him a lifespan of 30 years. Hearing this, the man looked very unhappy. He prayed to Lord Brahma to increase his lifespan. Brahma said, “I cannot show any special privilege to human beings alone. The lifespan for every creature has already been very meticulously planned and fixed”. But man kept on persisting. He was begging Lord Brahma for a longer lifespan, again and again.
Brahma then said, “Okay. You stand here by my side; I will call other creatures and inform them their lifespan. If any of them feel that their lifespan is too long and they don’t want that much, then I will add to human’s account whatever lifespan they want to reduce”. The man stood by the side of Brahma with anticipation.
Brahma called the bullock and said, “Your life span is 40 years”. The bullock said, “My lord, I can’t bear such a long lifespan. I pray to you to reduce it by half”.
Brahma agreed and added those 20 years to man. Man looked happy, but he was still standing there, hoping to get more.
Next Brahma called the donkey and granted 50 years to it. The donkey pleaded woefully, “My lord, why are you punishing me like this? I would rather be happy had you not created me at all; I have no wish for a long lifespan; Even half of it is long enough; Please don’t give me more than 25 years”.
25 more years were thus added to man, thus increasing it to 75. Though happy, the man was still willing to have more; he was eagerly waiting for the other animals.
Next Brahma called the dog and granted it 30 years. Even before he finished saying it, the dog started barking, vehemently protesting it. “My lord, I have no wish to live beyond 15 years” said the dog.
Man happily received another 15 years. Brahma looked at man’s face and he noticed that he was still not satisfied despite getting 90 years of age.
Brahma called the worm next and gave 10 years to it. The worm almost swooned on hearing it. “My lord, I shudder in fear to learn such a long life span for me. Please, please… I don’t want it at all. Please give just a few days as my lifespan; nothing more”.
Brahma transferred those 10 years of worms life too to man’s account. Now the man looked happy to receive 100 years as his lifespan. He started jumping and dancing in joy.
Amma: “Dear Children, Up to 30 years, man spends his life in education and employment with no major worries or responsibilities. He leads a carefree life. By this time he gets married. Now like a bullock, he has to pull the ‘cart of his family life’ with all the responsibilities. His energy and health deteriorates. Thus he reaches middle age. He leads the remaining twenty five ‘donkey years of life’ carrying the burden of a thankless worldly life on his back. By 75, he becomes dead tired, totally losing energy.
He spends the remaining 15 years like a dog, sitting at home to guard the house and the grandchildren, just for the sake of his food and shelter. By the time he reaches 90, everyone including his grandchildren discard him, He keeps living in the memories of the past.
The last 10 years that he got from the worm, he leads a pitiable life. Unable to walk, he moves like a worm. Advanced age and sickness make him unfit for anything. He spends his life lying in bed and squirming like worm. He dies like a worm, immersed in total disappointment, despair, sorrow and pain.”