Spring-Clean Your Mind

Crest Edition | TOI |  Week Dec.5 - Dec. 11, 2009 | Page 30

A milkman, deeply influenced by Gautam Buddha insisted that Buddha visit him and share his nuggets of wisdom. In lieu of this, the milkman offered to present milk to Buddha. He agreed. In the evening when Buddha set out to visit the milkman he took with him a container in which he intentionally put some mud. The milkman took the container but just as he was about to pour milk into it, the milkman realized that the container had some impurity. The milkman cleansed the container and removed all the impurities. He then poured the milk into it and gave it to Buddha. Upon getting the container, Buddha got up to leave. Surprised, the milkman asked Buddha why was he leaving before imparting any wisdom. Buddha replied that he just had. Unable to comprehend it, the milkman urged Buddha to explain the learning to him. Buddha told the milkman that our mind is similar to the container and the thoughts that preoccupy us are like the impurities in the container. In order to attain wisdom, we must purify our mind and make it free of all impure thoughts. Buddha asked the milkman to cleanse himself of his thoughts for only then will he be able to imbibe any further learning.

This illustration depicts the case of every individual. We cannot add more water to a glass full of water, it will only spill. The glass must be empty in order to imbibe wisdom. It is only a prepared mind that meets the right kind of situations that further harness his potential. Living in a narcissistic mindset is injurious to one’s development. Such a way of life leaves no room for receptivity as one thinks about none but its own self.

Trying to deride the discovery of a scientist, a man once said to him that all discoveries were nothing but chance occurrences. Calmly the scientist replied that you are right. But such chances took place only with the scientists. This was a befitting answer. It is only a prepared mind that is able to achieve the goal assigned. There is nothing mysterious about it. It is quite understandable that only a mind that has engrossed itself in trying to unravel a phenomenon, would eventually decipher it. However, a price must be paid to attain such a state where one can be referred to as a prepared mind. One must be sincere in one’s efforts, objective and unbiased in one’s approach and ready to admit a mistake and reassess his approach towards the target.

I recall here an anecdote about the famous Sufi saint – Bahaullah. He once visited another saint   Fariduddin for receiving guidance. Bahaullah gained the wisdom in a very short span of time. Seeing this some other of Fariduddin’s disciple accused him of favouritism. As Fariduddin heard of these charges, he told his disciple that Bahaullah was like dry wood while all of them are like wet wood. This was a classic example of receptivity. Dry wood is highly combustible and catches fire easily. High levels of receptivity enable us to imbibe spiritual guidance.

In order to be receptive to truth, one must make efforts to become a prepared mind. Man, by virtue of his societal existence becomes a conditioned entity. It is this conditioning that is a major obstacle in his way. To be able to overcome this hurdle, man must be ready to revisit his existing ideas. He must be willing to rise above all kinds of biases and prejudices and become receptive to truth that may come to him from anywhere.

The writer is associate professor at the department of Islamic Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia. www.cpsglobal.org.