Two friends who belonged to a group practising interior training were given the practise of self-examination. “At the end of the day, sit down for a few minutes and try to see where you have gone wrong: make attempts to correct the faults.” One of them, a desperately conscientious man, raised the point when they next had a meeting with the teacher.
“I find myself overwhelmed when I do self-examination,” he said. “I feel absolutely crushed. It seems to have been all blunders and meanness and weakness. I can’t get rid of the thought of them afterwards, either. Sometimes I can’t sleep.”
The teacher said, “There is another way for people like you. You need not do formal self-examination. Whenever you think of your mistakes, turn your mind on to the Lord. Create vividly in your mind the scenes from the life of His incarnations. This will free you. Make friends with the lion, and you will not be bothered by jackals.” Then he turned to the other, and asked him how he found the practise.
“Oh, I don’t have trouble at all,” he replied. “I’ve come to realize that humility is the secret of self-examination. If the thought comes up that I have failed in virtue, I just think, the Lord did not give me the strength. If the idea comes that I have not prayed, I think, He did not give me a devotional nature. If it occurs to me that I have not studied the holy scriptures, to find out how to approach Him, then I say, after all, He did not give me the head for that. When I realize that I have not been very helpful to my fellow men, I think, He did not bless me with loving kindness.
“All I am and all I do and all I think—it is all from Him. What have I to repent of, what have I to correct? It is all His, nothing of mine at all.”
“There might be just one thing of your own in all this,” said the teacher.
“And what is that?”
“Perhaps … a tiny bit of pride in your own cleverness?