Teachings by Shri Dada: How to See More

The holy man was walking in the garden. There was a rhythm in all he did and he was pacing unhurriedly as was his wont beside a bed of flowering plants freshly arranged by the gardener. The grass at the base of the bed was cut into the form of an ‘Om’, the flowers displayed a pattern of blended colour in the light of the sun, as they swayed to and fro in the wind. The gardener said: “I thought you would like it like this. You have a very good sense of colour.” Shri Dada admired the arrangement of the plants, saying: “Yellow is good for bordering. The golden colour suits the centre and those white flowers planted in the corners make up a beautiful design.”

At this moment he was interrupted by Rupa Singh accompanied by a youth who found nothing worthwhile in religion and called himself a votary of the materialistic Western civilisation. This young man wanted knives and forks introduced into every Indian home, and held that whisky or port should be drunk at meals as an aid to digestion and to the acquisition of courage. He looked at Shri Dada’s orthodox dress with contempt and at once said: “In this Victorian era, you live like one in the reign of Akbar.”

Shri Dada affectionately smiled at the youth and said: “Brother, I have heard of you, and I admire your love of progress, but progress has many aspects. Mental progress consists in assimilating knowledge which may be useful in curbing pleasure-desires and in promoting peaceful conditions without and tranquillity within. The real aim of social progress, my friend, is to make man independent of as many things as possible and to contribute to his wise living. Then there is spiritual progress which is the expansion of human sympathy, love and compassion and the ennobling of the spirit through love of truth and beauty. You advocate only material progress and perhaps you do not see anything other than matter. I do not blame you; but some day, when the grace of God descends upon you, you will realise the narrowness of your outlook. In the meantime, my son, be constructive and creative. It matters not whether a man eats with his fingers or with a knife and fork provided that he observes the laws of hygiene. Even physical health has of itself but little value. A healthy man who does not protect the weak, who is neglectful of his parents, is not devoted to the cultivation of virtue, is lacking in self-control, who has no interest in prayer and finds no consolation in divine contemplation—such a man’s health is no better than the showy tail of a peacock which attracts hunters and dogs and is consequently but a useless ornament.”

Here the young man heatedly interjected: “What? Prayer? Do you really believe in such nonsense? What has prayer given us except economic degradation? This is really too much to swallow; I had better go.”

Shri Dada affectionately took the youth’s hand in his and asked him to sit down saying: “My son, there is an element in man which is always prompting him to love and admire one higher than himself. You hold Western civilisation to be superior, and so you want to adopt it. You think Darwin cleverer than your Maulavis and so you try to follow him. The poor want to become rich; the mediocre go to listen to the wise. Is it not so, my son?” The youth nodded approvingly. The holy man continued: “My son, prayer is an attempt by the limited mind of man to come into contact with the omnipotent Mind which has decreed the laws of nature, which has set the limits to the orbit of the earth and the tides of the sea. My son, you imbibe the qualities of a person with whom you keep company and whom you respect and love. Prayer involves an attitude of reverence and affection towards the Universal Mind who controls the beat of our pulse, the cells of our eyes, the motion of our thought and everything else in the universe. Prayer is natural, my son. I see you are neatly dressed, your hair is well combed, your nails are perfectly cut; but then, what about your spirit? Should not the light of your mind be properly adjusted to your being? You take care of your body, but a devotee is anxious to enrich his soul by prayer. Mind governs matter. What do you say, my son?”

The youth looked puzzled, and said: “I can see that you are a clever man. Your talk seems reasonable enough but what is this universal mind of which you talk? I think nature is governed by fixed laws and nothing else.”

Shri Dada looked straight into his eyes and answered: “The Cosmic Mind is God, and the laws of nature are His fixed decrees. Tell me, which existed before the other; the laws of nature or nature? If nature, then the laws that govern it must proceed from some other source superior to it and anterior to it. Neither could the laws have existed before nature for this would be absurd! How can the motion of the earth exist before the earth? My son, the human mind in each stage of its development can only perceive so much and no more. Lift up your mind by prayer, faith, devotion, loving service of your fellow-men and study, and you will discover the truth that mind governs matter, and that Spirit governs the mind. Suppose an ant decides to do good to an elephant, what can it do? Let the ant evolve and become a man, and it will be in a position to do good to the elephant. So long as your mind sees only matter it can only render insignificant service to the material part of man or society. But in order to see the picture as a whole and not only a small blurred part of it, my son, expand your mind: relieve it of the burden of love of sense-objects. Throw away the burdensome load of conceit, egotism and love of power and fame, then your lightened mind will rise higher in the spiritual atmosphere and will be able to find real opportunities of service. Service of God is service of man. Reason cannot be divorced from its practical implications, my son. Pray to God; change your mind through an attitude of reverence to Him in inner silence, created by prayer; and I assure you, you will see more, much more.”

“It is wonderful, wonderful” said the youth. “You have explained to me what I never understood before.”

Shri Dada gave him a melon and expressed the hope that he would live like a true follower of his own religion.

Extract from Chapter:
Chapter Nine

by Hari Prasad Shastri