The quiet power of self-control
The temptations and distractions are many and relentless in this world. We imagine that freedom to let go the senses would bring happiness.
But it’s like flying a kite. It may appear that if you cut loose the string, the kite is freed from your control and could fly high and wide. The reality however is: the more dexterously you keep it connected to your strings, you can fly it higher. Similarly, one may think that freedom from all rules and obligations is liberating, but when we balance our lives with the right kind of activities and restrictions, we could fly higher.
Traffic rules and restraints help us drive smoothly to our destination. Imagine there were no stop lights, what would happen? We may rush at high speed, but soon other vehicles would also vie for space. The result: a traffic jam and a likely delay for hours. Freedom, therefore, is not available in an unrestricted or indulgent lifestyle; instead, it lies in seed form, in our self-restraint. A quiet sense of self-control carries infinitely more power than loud, hedonistic pursuits.
Attitude is the key
It’s not determination and self-control that’s all important; instead, it’s our attitude and motivation for the same.
The Srimad Bhagavatam reveals the story of a poor boy that assisted his mother in her service to saintly people. These sages frequented their village where the boy quietly served them and also heard their discourses. Although his mother was an uneducated maidservant, she taught her son the virtue of self-discipline. They shared the common deep bond of mother-child affection.
Life for them went on as usual until one day when Mr. Time, in the form of a snake, struck the mother and she died instantly. Orphaned and alone, the boy was strong enough to face the tragedy; his spiritual practice not only gave him the strength to tolerate the pain of losing his mother, but he also developed the determination to pursue the spiritual path. He traveled extensively and finally got an audience with the Lord.
Eventually, the young boy evolved as one of the greatest saints in Indian tradition: Narada Muni. Narada is regarded as a transcendental spaceman who travels anywhere and everywhere- from the Lord’s abode to the lowest of planets and helps everyone revive their dormant attraction to God.
The flip side of strict discipline: it could make your heart hard and insensitive to others’ needs. Therefore little Narada’s practice is significant- while he practiced control, he also submissively served and heard from advanced practitioners.
To be continued…