Today we’re going to start off with a well-known story. It’s about a landowner who asked a worker to build a well in his yard. On seeing a wealthy man, the worker thought it would be a nice idea to get into his good graces. At a well-chosen moment, he addressed the landowner. He began to glorify his mansion:
“Your mansion-house is better than Indra’s palace in the heavenly planets! Where else can one find such luxurious chambers?”
The rich man was obviously pleased to hear that, and he called out:
“Hey, wife, give him a jar of milk after his job!”
Overjoyed at success, the worker decided not to stop.
“Your kids are marvelous! I can’t help but dote on them: their lotus-like eyes and long, beautiful arms! No doubt, they are marked for greatness!”
“Hey, wife, allot him a bag of rice after work!” called out the pleased landlord.
“Your wife is also wonderful. I’ve never seen such a chaste and beautiful woman. At the same time she’s submissive, obedient and devoted to you!”
“Hey, wife, give him your golden necklace after his job.”
The worker began to relish it. The way things are going, soon it won’t be necessary for me to bust a hump and dig that damned well, he thought.
“You are also a man of distinction – generous, wise, and noble. It is no wonder that gods grant favors to you!”
“Come on, honey, give him a dozen gold coins when he finishes his job.”
The main thing is to quit while I’m ahead, thought the worker. Pleased with his own achievements, he continued his work. At the end of the day, he approached the rich man and gave him a questioning look.
“Nothing really. I just wanted to claim your promises: the bag of rice, the golden necklace, ten gold coins and finally, the jar of milk. Are you delivering your promises?”
“So, that’s what you’re up to! But these were just words. Didn’t you get it? You favored me with your pleasing words, and I just answered in kind.”
This story teaches us the main principle of karma: God reciprocates with us justly in proportion to our service attitude. We must understand it ourselves and impart this message to others. We are in a somewhat similar situation to the one described. When we lend assistance to other people, our help is mostly a verbal help. Very few of us can give material assistance to the needy. No grain stocks will suffice for that. But what we really have is any amount of wise words, especially if we listen to the holy scriptures such as the Bhagavat-Gita and Bhagavatam each day. They give us plenty of food for thought.
And yet, we want our healing words to be followed by deeds. We want the words of consolation to bring a real benefit, real change, real spiritual uplift to a suffering person. How to obtain such a result?
First of all, we must understand that consultation is not a pleasant cheerful talk. It’s a real acceptance of responsibility for everything that will happen with your client from now on. It’s like an “adoption” of a son or daughter, like a temporary “guardianship” over a person who seeks your help. Everything depends on the client’s desire: if he/she is ready that we guide him/her throughout life, we must be prepared for such turn of events – a life-long commitment. Certainly, most of our clients follow our advice for a week or two. But even a couple of weeks of responsibility is a serious consultant’s work. It demands thorough understanding of what is going on, “what I got tangled up in.” You can’t play with karma. It can’t stand dismissive attitude toward its laws.
Recently I’ve been told about the mental health center in the Hawaiian Islands. The chief physician of that institution uses a unique method for treating the hardest mental illnesses. He doesn’t even meet his patients – he simply studies their cases and gives a deep thought to them. He takes responsibility for those poor persons, begging God’s forgiveness for their suffering. He prays to God asking for forgiveness because he can’t duly help these people. They are suffering right beside him, but he’s unable to provide any substantial support. Curiously enough, western doctors were bound to acknowledge this prayer had a scientifically proven effect. Now this doctor is invited to the state mental health clinics. Incurably-ill patients with severe mental disorders really feel better and stop behaving inadequately after this unusual therapy.
The chief physician reveals the fundamental secret of his success. He is not just praying for his patients. A mere prayer doesn’t stipulate that we take responsibility for those we pray for. In a simple prayer we mostly enjoy ourselves, thinking how noble and compassionate we are, trying to pray for others instead of ourselves. But the physician I’m talking about takes real responsibility for the person, while praying for him/her. To be more precise, he takes responsibility for the illness of a particular person brought to him by fate. And this is real secret to success. Our help can be taken from the verbal level to the level of deeds only if we accept responsibility for the events in the life of a particular person. If we are simply talking to our client, this is nothing more than just words, a mere verbal communication. It’s a sort of entertainment both for us and the client. But as soon as we start thinking about the life of that individual, his/her deeds, life principles, habits, relationships — that’s when our consultation is taken to a different level, the level of practicality.
This is a very important transition. True knowledge can always be put to practical use. Knowledge that is not practically applicable cannot be called complete. Therefore, a consultant must always keep in mind his/her responsibility towards the client. The whole system of making changes must be explained, and the right starting point must be found. Entrance points to the system of changes are all situated in a straight line. From top to bottom these are: the mind’s eye (the mind), tongue (speech), stomach (nutrition) and genitals (control of lust). As you know, all these four factors are interrelated and must be improved as a whole. Only then can one make a real life change happen.
We must choose the accurate starting point to inspire a person to embrace changes. If it won’t be hard, and would even be pleasing, then, feeling the first positive changes, a person would be eager to proceed with them. It will only remain for you to impart knowledge of what to do next. Remember: first come doubts, then comes faith, and love comes later on. Where to start? Discover the easiest point to get through to a person, to remove their doubts and sow the first seed of faith. One must start having that faith — that the more pure lifestyle leads to a higher level of happiness. One should begin with purifying one of the following: one’s thoughts, speech, nourishment, or interactions with the opposite sex.
In yoga, these four basic factors are attached serious importance. The one who can’t control his/her habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation, can’t become a yogi. We have the same issue mentioned here. Regulation of work, recreation, eating and sleeping is the control of mind, speech, stomach and genitals, respectively. If you find the point, dwelling on which you can get this message across to a client, you manage the task. You succeed in holding a consultation and acceptance of responsibility.
To improve the mindset, one needs food for thought. Give your client the book of wisdom. If they leave without getting the wisdom book, all that you have said will soon be washed off with the aggressive mass media information flow. A modern man hears too much information during the day. Therefore, even the most useful words we say can be forgotten in half an hour after our discussion. So don’t hesitate to provide people with books of wisdom. Tell them this is what you meant to say but didn’t have time for. Also, don’t be shy to cover the four above-mentioned points. Remember: this is not just a client – this is your child, and you are now responsible for him/her.
It means that we must learn to love people, and especially those who seek our help. At the same time we must know how to show love properly. Philosophy of love also has a certain order. First we come to love God, and then come to love all people as children of God. Yes, we can and should love people, but for our love to become real, we must first reject the desire to enjoy it, as if these people belonged to me. They don’t belong to me – they are children of God. It’s not me who has found them – it was God who has led them to me. And it’s not we, but God who helps these people — we simply take care of them because the Lord asked us to take responsibility for everything we do in this world. If we assume responsibility for someone’s suffering, this person will in turn get inspired from the heart to take responsibility for his/her own life. Such is the secret of spiritual help, and anyone can learn to provide such help. But for that, one needs to become a true sage and a person of faith.
We must acquire a spiritual taste ourselves and share it with a suffering person. Taste comes as soon as we stop thinking about ourselves, and start thinking about the Absolute Truth. Taste comes when we stop talking about ourselves, and start talking about the Absolute Truth. Taste appears when we stop filling our bellies and begin to accept food as a gift from God. Finally, taste is there when we reject lust for the sake of love. What is true love? This is when I don’t need sexual relations. Is there love in this world? Yes, but we must learn to develop it.
Our love is developed when we learn to control that same relations. The more I’m capable of controlling myself, the closer I approach true love. The points I was talking about are not just four kinds of spiritual taste one needs to develop. These are the four tastes that break the chains of karma that gripped our soul. What can be better than such help? But scriptures hold a warning: fools won’t believe you when you’ll be talking about the spiritual taste. Only wise people can accept that. So don’t worry if you won’t manage to evoke the right response in each consultation. Our task is simply to perform our duty. The ultimate result is never in our hands.