Using jewels to stone the crows
Our teacher used to quote verse 40 of Chapter II of the Gita. “Even a little of this Dharma relieves from anxiety”. Here the word dharma refers to the practice of karma yoga and the word translated here as anxiety is bhaya, fear. But he said that little bits of yoga must not be practised merely for some worldly gain. One example he gave was of a man who used to use the rosary while lying in bed. He seemed a pious person but when he was asked ‘why do it in such an unusual position, why not sitting up like everyone else does?’ he answered, ‘I have found it helps me to get to sleep.’ This is misusing a yoga technique for a purely personal benefit.
There is a Chinese proverb. When the crows come down to pick up the seed you throw stones at them, and this is called ‘stoning the crows’, and the proverb is ‘don’t use the family jewels to stone the crows’. In other words don’t use the priceless methods of spiritual training in order to gain some petty worldly advantage.