A wise man built his house on firm foundation. He dug deep and laid the foundation on a rock. The house could then weather many a storm. The rains came. The waves broke on the rock. But the house was safe... because it was built on the rock.
A foolish man built his house on sand. The rains came. The wind blew. The floods rose. The walls of the house crumbled down and the loss was great. Even so:
He is a wise man who learns spiritual truths and lives up to them. His wisdom and his life are founded upon the firm rock of practice. His wisdom and his life are unshaken by whatever might happen. In weal or woe, in rain or shine, in honour or dishonour his wisdom is changeless and his life unperturbed.
But, he is a foolish man who listens to spiritual truths or studies them, but does not live up to them. His wisdom and his life rest upon the shifting sands of theoretical understanding. And misfortune in life, an ailment, a defeat, or an insult would make his wisdom crumble down, and his life a mess. They cannot stand.
Therefore, be like the wise man: learn and translate what you have learnt into daily life.
A traveller from Jerusalem to Jericho had been waylaid by robbers. They had stripped him. They caused him bodily injury. They had taken away all he had. He was in a dying condition.
A priest passed that way. He saw the groaning man. But he had his own work to do perhaps! He went his way.
Then came a Levite. He, too, went his way, disregarding the cry of the unfortunate traveller.
There came a Samaritan that way. The Samaritans were a mixed race; the orthodox people considered it a sin to have anything to do with them. But the Samaritan, without the trace of ill-will, knelt before the traveller, rendered him first aid, dressed his wounds, mounted him on his own horse, took him to an inn, and provided for his comfortable stay till he got well.
Of the three who is good? Surely, the Samaritan. He is the Good Samaritan. To the man of compassion everyone in need is neighbour. To render whatever help one can to everyone in need is what is meant by the golden words "love thy neighbour as thyself."
The evil spirit leaves the house. It wanders through waterless regions. It finds no rest anywhere. It return to the house again. In the meantime, the house had been swept clean! But, what does the evil spirit do? It goes out and brings seven other kindred spirits with it, to dwell in the house. Imagine the state of the house then! Is it not worse than it was before? Even so:
The evil nature of man temporarily leaves him some times. It is starved out; association with the wise, precepts of sages, etc., prevent the evil from manifesting itself. These forces of the divine sweep the house (the heart of man) clean of all dirt and impurity. This does not last long, however! The evil nature returns. And, how? Often, sevenfold.
O man, beware! Be eternally vigilant. Look out for the signs of the return of old evil nature. Nip it in the bud. You will then be safe.
There was a rich man whose land yielded a rich harvest during a certain year. But his barns were small. They could not accommodate all the grain. The rich man, however, wanted to store all the grain for his own use. He thought he could eat, drink and be merry... for he had plenty of material wealth. But God said to him: "O fool! Your soul is required tonight. Who will take the wealth you have thus hoarded?"
He passed away, without either enjoying the riches himself or having the satisfaction of giving them away to the needy. Such is the fate of all greedy people.
O rich fool! You are only the trustee of the wealth, the Lord has entrusted to you. Share what you have with the poor and the needy. When your soul departs from the body, it will find that the Lord is well pleased with it; for the wealth that the Lord bestowed upon you had been nicely shared by you with His other children. Hoard not wealth.
One who desires to build a tower should first sit down, calculate the cost and find out if he has enough to complete the work. Otherwise,if he foolishly embarks on the task without first drawing up the plan and acquiring the raw materialshe will not be able to complete the work and would make himself the laughing stock of the public.
Similarly, a king going to wage war with another king, would first take counsel with his ministers and calculate the strength of his own army, compared to the strength of the enemy's army. If he does not equip himself properly, then he would have to beg for the enemy's terms of peace! Even so:
When a seeker embarks on the life divine, he ought to think well and ponder the prerequisites of spiritual life. He ought to equip himself with dispassion, discrimination and a true spirit of renunciation. Or, he will be forced to stop short of his goal. He would be laughed at by the people.
Or, he might have to surrender himself to the undivine forces and suffer great spiritual downfall.
O Spiritual aspirants! Take heed. Acquire first the Four Means to Salvation. Then you will have no cause for grief.
Two men went up to a temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a Tax Collector.
The Pharisee noticed the Tax Collector praying at a distance. So, he prayed within himself: "God, I thank Thee; for I am not like the other men, extortioners, unjust adulterers, not even like this Tax Collector. I have fasted twice a week, and I give tithes of all that I get."
The Tax Collector did not even raise his head, but beat his breast and prayed: "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."
God was pleased with the Tax Collector. For, in his heart was humility. The Pharisee was proud of his piety. And, the pride overshadowed all other virtue. Religious pride is dangerous. It is worse than material pride, pride of wealth, etc. Religious pride is the greatest obstacle to spiritual progress.