Out of the trunk of a teak tree a skilful carpenter can produce beautiful toys, useful tables, boxes, doors, ladles and many other articles. An unimaginative man may use it for fuel or just leave it to become dried up and wasted. When Pizarro, his Catholic priests and assassins went to Peru, murdering and pillaging, their greed was prompted by the desire to obtain the gold which the Incas had in such abundance that they made their stoves and bath tubs out of it.

Our life is a raw material, and it is for us either to evolve order, harmony and peace out of it or to let it return to savagery. If life is not cultivated daily and devoted to the realisation of a particular goal, it will revert to wildness, as if a wood is left uncultivated, snakes etc will usurp it, corresponding in life to greed, excessive sex preoccupation, lethargy, vanity and predatory propensities. Then life will become like a constant thorn in the flesh or a grain of sand in the eye. We will be lonely in the midst of worldly friends and will suffer from boredom, melancholy and a vague restlessness.

Our life must be creative. We must create peace, affection and love of beauty and truth. We must strive to be detached and have a deep love for man despite his colossal ingratitude and aggression. In the end we must understand the nature of our spirit of `I’ by devotion and meditation.

We must live consciously all the time and avoid all waste. Our greatest enemies are physical pleasures, shallow joys, vanity and conceit. Sometimes one moment of heedlessness mars the whole life. How true are the words of Shankara: “All objects have poison concealed in them.”

Begin with control of speech in daily life. Speak as few words as necessary, and let your words be based on truth, sweetness and benevolence. Avoid all those so-called friends who prompt you to waste words. Do not seriously criticise your neighbours, and do not rush to help them indiscreetly. The other day I advised a certain person as to which books to study and offered to present him, free of charge, with a few good books. The reaction was a snarl and abuse. Beware of such instances.

Beware of letting the mind have its own way. Heed it and cultivate virtue, faith and devotion. Be on the alert all the time and see that your mind does not rush into the fields of pleasures. One moral fall leads to another and yet another. I met a young Geisha in Kyoto who was given to excessive drinking. She was a wonderful musician. Geishas do not drink as a rule and are self-restrained. She told me that she took her first cup of saki to oblige a young friend, and it eventually led to her ruin. Do not oblige anybody by breaking the moral law.

If you are on the path, love God. Dye your mind deep in the colour of devotion. See the one amidst the many.

Remember, the world is an inn.

Your goal is the Blessed Lord, your own Self.

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