The current state of man is such that he hates himself as much as he hates others. Even small things leave him emotionally drained. The thought “I must always be No. 1” plagues people constantly, whatever be their position in society. Today, when faced with just small failures in life, many people go as far as to commit suicide. We often hear that is important to “love ourselves.” This is very true. It is important to love one ’s self, but this does not mean to love our ego. It means to love this life, love this human birth, seeing it as a blessing from God, or the supreme universal power. But at the same time, we should recognize our own strengths and weaknesses. We have to realize our own limitations. Because, only then can we transcend them.
We have all heard about professional athletes who break their own records. They have gone beyond their own limits. In Mahabharata, there is the story of Arjuna practising archery in the dark. His inspiration to master this skill was none other than his own brother, Bhima. Once, Arjuna caught Bhima eating in the dark. Arjuna thought to himself, “Even though it is dark, we are able to take the food and put it in our mouth. So, why not try to hit a target in the dark?” Arjuna didn’t try to beat anyone or even compete with anyone. He only challenged his own self. He challenged himself and, in doing so, transcended his own limitations.
To challenge ourselves and transcend our limitations, we should keep our mind pure. We should ensure and encourage only healthy thoughts and beneficial actions.
Modern society has the flawed outlook of seeing life only as a means to pursue physical comfort, pleasure and beauty. We spend hours every day trying to preserve and beautify this body. People go to beauty parlours and sit patiently for hours while the bodies are worked upon. People think nothing of spending a lot of money for such treatments. The duration of time people, including children, spend in front of the mirror every morning is not small. Amma is not saying that these things should not be done. However, if along with that, a little time is set aside for increasing the health and beauty of the mind, it will make our entire life beautiful.
In order to defend our body against disease and to maintain a healthy weight, we often adopt exercise routines and diet restrictions. Despite how healthy the body is or how good it looks, if mental health is lost, the body will become weak as well. Hence it is just as important to maintain mental health as it is to maintain physical health.
It has become man’s nature to invite unnecessary thoughts and nourish them with affection. Regarding this, Amma remembers a story:
A man put on reading glasses and began to read his morning newspaper. He first held the newspaper very close to his face. Then he held it at a distance. After that, he turned his head this way and that, and looked at the paper from one side and then from the other. Then he tried bending down low to look at it. Finally he lay down, flat on the ground, and tried to read it.
Seeing him go to so much trouble to read the newspaper, his neighbour asked him, “Are you having trouble with your glasses? Maybe it’s time to get a new pair!”
“Oh, no!” responded the man, “Actually, I don’t need glasses to read at all.” “Then why are you wearing those glasses?” asked the neighbour.
“I found these lying on the ground when I went for my morning walk,” replied the man. “I was just trying them on.”
Today, many of us are like this man who went to a great deal of trouble trying to wear glasses he did not really need. In fact, glasses harm the vision of healthy eyes. In the same way, if we let unnecessary thoughts settle in our mind, it will adversely affect our mental health. We will lose our mental peace.
To overcome our weaknesses, to love life in its entirety and to make it a blessing, we have to maintain control over our mind and keep it pure. Just as we safeguard our body, we have to safeguard our mind. Develop positive thoughts in the mind and make your own life and the lives of others blessed.
Amma - Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi