There was once a man, whose father left him a palace furnished with every luxury and comfort, and everything the heart could desire. He was informed in the will that there were certain conditions attached to the possessions of these things: that he must first acquit himself by studying philosophy, practising benevolence, and keeping himself in mental and physical health.
The boy was only nine years of age when his father died, but the executors made the specific conditions clear to him. However, he was lazy and preferred to amuse himself with his kite or pigeons rather than learn any lessons or practice any accomplishments. As he grew older, he fell into the company of boys as idle as himself, and wasted his days in games and sometimes in ill-treating animals. When he was fifteen, he began to drink alcohol, and frequented the local taverns ; soon he started philandering with questionable characters, and eventually married the frivolous daughter of a professional thief.
He now fell into serious trouble, lost both his health and means, and became socially and morally an outcast. His father’s friends visited him and reminded him of the patrimony and the conditions attached to it, but he only replied indignantly : “I am free to do as I like and can make my own decisions. The patrimony is a matter of indifference to me.”
Such is the ordinary man, who holds the seed of divinity in his being. The Lord is seated in the hearts of all, and it is for man to conjure up the jewel of Wisdom, hidden in his personality, and manifest it in the outward expression of peace and happiness for the benefit of others. It is for man to choose whether he will be a Sage, a fully illumined being, or an individual, morally and spiritually starved and miserable. If he drinks the wine of pleasure, pride and imprudence, and flies the kites of vanity, he will not be qualified to receive the patrimony of supreme wisdom and peace. If he makes love to sensation and becomes a slave to his passions, he will degrade himself, and suffering is inevitable.
His Father, God, is compassionate and sends spiritual Teachers to instruct and exhort him and show him how a life of discipline, righteousness and devotion to the highest, will grant him opportunities to achieve the true good. Should he, however, be intoxicated by materialism and sensualism, proud of his ignorant state, then he must suffer in order to learn the significance of wise choice. No man is lost forever, and if he loses his opportunities in this life, he will have further chances in a future life. Humanity is still in the cradle and has not yet learnt to appreciate spiritual values such as self-control, equanimity and devotion to the Lord.
It is no use condemning anyone, for, in the dark wood of ignorance, in the moonless night of self-interest, it is for us to offer the wanderers such light that will lead them from the darkness to light. They may abuse us for it, but those who have knowledge will give blessings in return for such action. Affection alone wins hearts. Try and teach them the value of a tranquil and compassionate mind, and help the prodigal son to claim his patrimony. You will gain nothing personally by so doing but the satisfaction of having served God.