Children, just as the body needs food, the mind needs good thoughts for nourishment. We ought to know what kinds of food are beneficial and harmful for our health. Accordingly, we should regulate our diet. Instead, if we habituate ourselves to eating just confectionery, our bodies will become weak and fall prey to incurable diseases. In the same way, if negative thoughts increase, the mind will become weak. This will pave the way for physical and mental illnesses, which will lead to our ruin.
The mind is a flow of thoughts. If there are no thoughts, there is no mind. If we wish to control our mind, we should become aware of our thoughts. We should always be alert about which thoughts to accept and which to reject. A prime minister should be able to size up his ministers. He should know their intellectual abilities as well as the extent to which he should accept their opinions and suggestions. If he heeds whatever they say and acts without due deliberation, he might even lose his position. Similar is the case with the thoughts in our mind. It is necessary that we understand them well and handle them accordingly. If not, they will become the cause of our ultimate ruin.
Often, we are not aware of the rise of thoughts. Weeds flourish where paddy grows. They should be rooted out at once. If not, they will absorb all the fertiliser and destroy the crops. Weeds proliferate very quickly even when we don’t pay attention to them. But we should give the crops sufficient water and fertiliser at the right time. We should spray insecticides to ensure that worms don’t destroy the crops. It is thus necessary to tend them with utmost care and attention. In the same way, negative thoughts will flourish on their own; we don’t need to try. However, in order to cultivate good thoughts, we need to make deliberate efforts.
One day, a grandfather took his grandson to the zoo. There, they saw two lions in two cages next to each other. One of the lions would remain standing peaceably no matter who went near the cage. Even if someone tried to touch the animal, it would not become angry. It was obvious that the lion had become habituated to the presence of human beings. The other lion would start to roar as soon as anyone went near. It would try to strike with its paws. Because of this, people would keep away from it. The grandfather asked, “Son! If these two lions were to fight each other, who would win?” No matter how hard he thought, the grandson couldn’t come up with an answer. Then, the grandfather said, “The lion that’s fed more food will win.”
Similar is the case with the thoughts in our mind. If we allow negative thoughts to proliferate, they will become strong. Negative qualities such as pride and anger will fill the mind. They will bring about inner and outer failure. This indulgence in negative thoughts is the main cause of the violence, injustice and other problems that we see around us today. However, if we encourage positive thoughts more, they will sink their roots in the mind, and qualities such as love, compassion and patience will fill our hearts. Peace and contentment will flourish in society.
Love, compassion and patience should become our very nature. Before this can happen, we should root out the weeds of egoism, selfishness, and likes and dislikes from our mind. We should evaluate each thought mindfully, reject the negative ones, and cultivate the positive ones. Consider how hurt we feel if someone gets angry with us. For this reason, we should never become the cause of hurt to even one person. Just as we feel so much happiness when someone behaves lovingly to us, we should be able to give others such happiness, too. If we have this attitude, we will be able to respond appropriately in any situation. Love, patience and discrimination form the foundation of life. We need these more than learning or earning. If we have them, we will be able to gain everything else.
Not understanding this truth, human beings are creating hell on this earth, which is equal to heaven. It is
the mind that makes earth heaven or hell. It is the mind (we ourselves) that illumines or darkens the path of life.
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader