Life is a piece of art which can be made beautiful and polished, chiselled and shaped, by your own careful self-effort – Chinmaya
Reforming oneself is like chiselling a stone to perfection.
i. An unreformed person is just like an unpolished stone – unattractive and unproductive, and hence wanted by none, ignored by all.
ii. Within an uncut stone, there is an unseen beauty waiting to manifest itself. So too, even in the most uncultured person lies the ever perfect Supreme Self waiting for manifestation.
iii. Without a master sculptor, the hidden beauty of the stone remains ever hidden. Without a Guru, a person roams about, life after life, unaware of his infinite nature.
iv. Only when the stone makes itself available (i.e. yielding to the chisel, remaining steady without moving, without cracking) the sculptor can transform the stone. So too, only with surrender and obedience to the Guru, one is transformed.
v. Chiselling is a painful process. So also is the process of self-reformation.
vi. Chiselling is a time-consuming process. Self-reformation is in no way different.
vii. Chiselling only removes, never adds. So too, in the process of self-reformation, there is only the removal of all wrong notions.
viii. Once the process is completed, the erstwhile unworthy piece of stone becomes a priceless treasure. So too, the erstwhile sinner becomes a liberated sage, revered by all.
While the former charms the world with its outer beauty, the latter blesses the world with his inner divinity.
Shah Ibrahim Adam, the King of Bokhara, was overcome with a desire for God-realisation. However, he lived in such luxury that he always slept on a deep mattress of fragrant flowers. One night, when he was going to bed, he heard a noise above him and, on investigation, saw two men roaming about on the palace roof.
“What are you doing here?” he asked them sharply.
“Sir, we are camel drivers and are searching for our lost camels.” They replied. Amazed at their stupidity, the King said scornfully, “How could you ever expect to find camels on the top of a palace?”
“In the same way as you are trying to realise God in your bed of flowers,” was the reply.
The King was shocked. Their reply made him deeply introspective. He abandoned his throne and went in search of saints in his own kingdom, but without satisfaction.
Thereafter he went to India, the land steeped in spirituality and an abode of spiritual giants. He finally reached Kashi, and there he heard of Kabir, the weaver saint. Accordingly, he asked Kabir to accept him as his disciple.
“There is nothing in common between a King and a poor weaver like myself,” Kabir replied, “and two such different persons could hardly get together.”
But the King pleaded with him. “I did not come to your door as a King but as a beggar,” he said. “Again I beg of you to accept me.”
Seeing the earnestness and sincerity of the King, the kind-hearted Mai Loi, the wife of Kabir, also requested her husband to accept him, and the saint gave in to her request.
In a weaver’s house, what could the King do other than preparing the woof and the warp? Six years passed by, and the King did this work without a murmur.
One day Mai Loi entreated Kabir saying, “This King has been with us for six long years, has been eating what we offer him, and has been doing what we order him to do, without uttering a word of complaint. Because of all this, he appears to be highly deserving. So please give him the initiation.”
“As far as I can see, the King’s mind is not yet crystal clear,” Kabir told his wife.
Mai Loi again entreated, and reminded Kabir that what the King had done was a tremendous service to them; and that she could not even for a moment believe that he did not deserve initiation.
“The best way to prove it to yourself is to do what I ask you to do,” Kabir replied, “and thereafter come and tell me what you hear from his mouth. Please go onto the roof of the house, and as the King comes into the street, throw the entire sweepings of the house unto his head.”
Mai Loi did as she was asked, and threw the sweepings on the head of the King.
“If this were Bokhara,” the King said indignantly, “no one would have dared to do this to me.”
Mai Loi returned to Kabir and repeated what the King had said.
“Did not I tell you that the King is not yet ready?” Kabir said.
So another six years passed by, during which the King worked as hard as he had during the first six years.
One day, Kabir said to his wife, “The vessel is now ready.”
“I do not find any difference between the condition of the King six years ago and now,” Mai Loi replied. “He had been ever dutiful and willing, and has never uttered a word of complaint, even on days when we have had a large number of sadhus in the house and there was nothing left for us to eat.”
“If you want to see the difference,” Kabir told her, “you may once again throw the refuse and the rotten rubbish of the house upon the King’s head.”
The next day, when the King was passing the house, she did exactly as she was asked.
The King, now bathed in dust and garbage, stood there undisturbed. With joined palms, he peacefully looked up and said, “May you, the doer of this, live long. May God bless you. Arrogant and egoistic that I am, what else can I deserve other than this?”
Again Mai Loi related the King’s words to her husband. This time Kabir replied, “As I told you, nothing is lacking in him now.”
Kabir initiated the King into the spiritual knowledge, and within a short time, through thorough reflection and meditation, he realised his true Self. Kabir then told the King, “Your devotion is complete. You may go anywhere you like.”
After having received the blessings of his master, Ibrahim Adham returned to Bokhara, but no longer as a King. One day, as he was sitting on the banks of river Tigris, and mending his old torn garment with a small needle and thread, he was seen by his minister, who had gone out hunting. The minister was returning from the hunt, and although he had not seen the King for twelve years and the King was in tattered clothes, he recognised him and asked if he was not Ibrahim Adham. The king replied in the affirmative.
“Your Majesty, I am your minister,” the hunter then told him. “During your long absence, I have trained your children well in the art of warfare, and now my only wish is that you should return to your throne.” The minister then vowed to continue to serve him devotedly.
On hearing this, the King threw his sewing needle into the fast-flowing river and asked the minister, “Can you get the needle back for me?”
“It is not possible for me to do that, Sir,” the minister replied, “but in barely half an hour I can bring a hundred thousand such needles from the city.”
“No. I am interested in my own needle, and no other.”
The minister expressed his complete helplessness, saying, “The water is very deep, the current is rapid, and it is absolutely impossible for me to recover the needle.”
“Is there any other means of recovering the needle?” the King asked. “Or is there any other man who could get it for me?”
“No Sir, I don’t think so. That needle is lost forever.” The minister replied.
The King then closed his eyes, and lo and behold! A small fish came out of the water, holding the needle in its mouth and placed it at the feet of the King.
“What will I do with your kingdom,” the King said to the minister,” when I have become the servant of that Lord who rules over all the worlds, and under whose command is everything that lives in them? He has made me unlimited, like Himself, and you are suggesting I go back to my former kingdom?”
“I am no longer the person I was before. Like the drop merged in the ocean cannot be retrieved, so too this little self has merged in the ocean of Satchidananda. I have experienced the worlds beyond all imagination. And just as you could not get back that needle for me, so you cannot get back that King you lost. Please go, therefore. Let my sons and your good self do as you like. Keep your kingdom with you and leave me alone. This is the greatest service you can do to me. May God bless you…”
‘Bhaja Govindam’ says:
रथ्या-चर्पट-विरचित-कन्थ: पुण्यापुण्य-विवर्जित-पन्थ: ।
योगी योग नियोजित चित्त: रमते बालोन्मत्तवदेव ॥
A Yogi who has perfected himself revels in bliss like a child, or like an intoxicated one. Outwardly, in abject poverty, but inwardly, he rules like a King, having mastered his mind and the senses. How can such a reveller in the infinite bliss of the Self ever be tempted back into the worldly ways?
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