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Chapter 27:


Kindness and Compassion - The Mark of a True Human Being


Love all. Do not harbor enmity or hatred towards any being. The divinity in all its fullness resides in the heart of every being. This is the basic teaching of the Gita.


Embodiments of Love,


Whenever you hate someone, it is really God whom you are hating, for God is installed in every being. Whenever you criticize or admonish someone, it is the very Lord whom you worship that you are criticizing or reviling. That same Lord is the resident of all hearts. This awareness of the divine essence in every being is the basis of the teachings of universal brotherhood that have been given in the scriptures of India since ancient times.


The Unity of the Self, the One Atma Existing Everywhere


The Gita proclaims that the divinity is present everywhere and in everyone, as the all-pervading reality we call God. But the Gita declares an even higher stage than this. It teaches not only that God is everywhere, but that the inner truth behind the I that you refer to when speaking of yourself is your immortal self, your highest self, one and the same with God. And that highest self in you is also the highest self of everyone. It is the atma, one with the divinity. In essence, you and everyone and everything are God.


Therefore, in addition to teaching the unity of God, expressed through universal brotherhood, the Gita also teaches the unity of the atma, the one self existing everywhere. The Gita shows that the atma, which exists as the true self in you, exists as the same self in all other human beings, and in animals and birds and every other kind of being as well. Just as the Gita instructs you to regard happiness and misery as equal, so also it instructs you to recognize the one atma as existing equally in all beings, whether they are humans, animals or plants.


You must have the conviction that right from microscopic creatures and insects up to the creator, the same divinity exists uniformly everywhere. That is why a great poet, brimming with devotion, sang:


O Lord, You have been living in the ant as well as in the creator. You have come as Krishna and Rama. But truly, you live in every form. I see you everywhere, in every being I encounter.

Harmonization of Thought, Word and Deed


Today, human nature is such that when you see some ants and roaches you don't mind killing them. At the same time, when you go into a temple and see an image of one of the forms of God, you pay homage to it. You act differently in the two situations, even when you know and profess that the one God is present everywhere. Saying one thing and doing the opposite is a common disease of humanity today. That is why, instead of attaining the status of a mahatma, a divine being, people have not risen very far above their lower natures. The Gita teaches truth in action, which is the harmonization of thought, word, and deed. This is the real mark of a human being. It is in this way that you manifest your divine nature in everyday life.


Develop your faith and see the same divinity existing in every living being. Spread your love, which is the very essence of your divine nature and the divine nature of all living beings. Look upon every person with compassion and love. Unless you adopt this approach in your dealings with others, all your spiritual exercises will just be a waste. Worshipping God while harming your fellow human beings can never take you to your goal. The Gita teaches that man himself is God, and that God is man. This unity of God and man has repeatedly been emphasized in the Gita. "Only the one who treats all alike is a true human being," Krishna proclaimed.


Whatever education you might have acquired, if you do not have human kindness then all your schooling and accomplishments amount to nothing. Kindness to all living beings is one of the most important virtues of a human being. You have to use your discrimination and discover how to develop this kindness and apply it in your daily life. Kindness to living beings refers to looking after people and other living things which are in distress and going to their rescue. You have to make the necessary effort to reduce their pain, their sorrow and their troubles. It is no use to repeat 'love, love, love' an endless number of times. You have to act with love and kindness in everything you do. Kindness must be an integral part of your life. You have to believe that kindness is the same as divinity. You have to believe that the heart which houses kindness is the temple of God.


Kindness is the Hallmark of a True Human Being


There are a number of weaknesses that have invaded human beings. As a result, they lose their innate kindness and become cruel. They behave more like wild animals dwelling in the jungle. But clearly this is not the true nature of a human being. It is the very opposite of humanness. The very word human or humane is used to denote kindness. Of all the different flowers of devotion, God accepts the flower of human kindness with the greatest love. Offering ordinary flowers and worshipping God with the ordinary thoughts and intentions that accompany them, will not evoke the love of God. That will not please him, nor will he accept such offerings.


What offerings will God accept? What does he appreciate? He will accept the flowers of human kindness, the flowers of love, the flowers of compassion blooming in your heart. How should you express this feeling of kindness? It is not enough for you to just do some good. You must transform your heart. There must be a leap of faith. You must develop a deep-seated belief in God's omnipresence. You have to live the conviction that the same God exists in every heart. Then you will be able to recognize other's pain and sorrow as your own pain and sorrow. Here is a small story.


In a village there lived a couple who had a young daughter. It was just a small family of three. It was not a well-to-do family; in fact, it was a very poor family. But poor as they were, these parents decided to provide a proper education for their child. There was no school in the village in which they lived, so they had to send their child to a neighboring village. She had to traverse a forest every day to go to the village where the school was. City people might be afraid of walking through a forest, but villagers do not mind; it is part of their daily life. So this little girl spent her time going to the school in the neighboring village, learning her lessons there, and then coming back home in the evening.


A Child Suffused with the Nectar of Human Kindness


Along the way, in the forest, a small shelter had been erected to provide rest for wayfarers. One day, when passing by, this girl found an aged man in the shelter. He appeared to be undergoing some suffering. She realized that he would not be able to reach the next village where he could get medical help and protection. Because of want of food, his body had become weak, and as she passed by she could see that his condition was not good. Daily she had been carrying some food for herself, and from the next day onward she gave this food to the sick man, who continued to lie in that small shelter in the forest. Every day, in the morning on her way to school, she would leave the food, and then in the evening she would collect the empty food container on her way back home. After ten days of ministering to him in this way, he regained some strength.


One day, as she was coming by on her way home, he took the hands of this little girl and asked her, "Dear child, you have been giving me food every day. Please, tell me where this food is coming from. Do your parents know that you are bringing me food every day? Or are you taking it from somewhere without their knowing it? Is this, perhaps, the food that has been provided for your daily lunch, and you are giving it to me instead? Tell me what you are doing. Please answer my question." She replied, "Honorable sir, I have been brought up to take things only with permission, and I can assure you that my parents know of my bringing food to you. Ours is a very poor family and we have very little money, but still we have been able to manage to provide food for ourselves and those in need. So, I have been bringing food from my family especially for you."


He asked her, "But if you have so little money how are you able to buy this food?" She replied, "Beyond here in the forest, there is a fruit-bearing tree. On my way, I collect fruits from that tree and sell them before going into the school. With the little money I collect, I buy the food. The next morning I prepare it and bring it you." The old man was overjoyed at her sacrifice and her intelligence and straightforwardness. He questioned her further, "How did you get such a noble mind?" She said, "Whatever good I am able to do is because of the upbringing and teachings given to me by my parents. As long as I can remember, my parents have been telling me that we must share with others and serve others. Ours is a very poor family, yet we always try to help others. We feel very blessed when we have the chance to do so. It gives us so much satisfaction." In this way, she told the sick man a little bit about her family and then went home.


Gradually the man recovered his health and was able to walk to the village where this girl and her family lived. What was the result of all the kind actions directed towards the sick man by this sweet little girl? The man told the family how he had been praying to God, "O Lord, give health and prosperity to the parents of this girl. When I was sick and helpless, I could not be of any use to the world. Now I am much better and can be helpful to others. I pray to you out of a heart filled with gratitude to bless this family." In this way, he shared with them his prayer that God bless good families such as these who generously help those in need. Then he left.


God Showers His Grace on Those Who Have Kindness


Whatever this girl did in the way of kindness, she never expected any reward for her actions. Without expecting any result or any fruits, she had faithfully been serving the sick man every day. Now God showered his benevolent grace on her. One evening, the Lord came to that house with a chest full of gold and asked, "Is this the home of the child who has given so much food and water to one in distress?" The Lord continued, "It was I who assumed the form of the sick man who languished in that shelter, until your little girl came and took care of me. Now I am leaving this gift so that the child can grow up and become highly educated. I lived in that shelter for ten days to test this girl. This child's heart is very sacred and pure. It is full of kindness. Her heart is my dwelling place, my own temple." He handed over the chest to the parents telling them to use the money to secure her happiness and prosperity.


But the parents were not overjoyed at the prospect of getting such a large amount of wealth. They fell at the feet of this divine person who had blessed them with his visit. They said to him, "Revered sir, we do not have any need for so much wealth. Wealth beyond one's own capacity is harmful, it can take away one's peace of mind. It can increase one's ego and make one forget God. We do not want so much wealth," But, having blessed them, the divine visitor disappeared, leaving the entire treasure there. This person who came was not merely a great man. The family members recognized him as the Lord himself. Without keeping the money just for their own family, they used it for the welfare of the whole community in which they lived. They asked everyone to conduct themselves in the belief that present in every being is the full manifestation of God. They showed by their own lives how God could be obtained, by expressing love and compassion and kindness to all beings who were in need.


You should not narrow your belief in God by thinking that he exists only in a certain place. You have to experience God everywhere. How will you be able to develop this feeling? God exists both inside and outside. If God existed only inside, inner purity would be sufficient. As God exists externally as well, external purity is also required. Therefore, since God is both inside and out, you need to have both inner and outer purity only then will you be able to become fully aware of the omnipresence of God.


Inner and Outer Purity


What is the meaning of external purity? Of course, external purity means keeping the body pure and wearing clean clothes. But it means much more than that. The place where you live must be kept clean. The books which you read must also be clean and wholesome. Be it your body or your mind, you should not allow dirt and bad qualities to accumulate. The statement that you should take a daily bath means that every impurity in body and mind has to be cleansed. Where dirt accumulates, germs will gather and bring on disease. Therefore, do not allow impurities of any kind to remain on you.


Every day in the morning, you should brush your teeth and also clean your tongue. Let there be no impurity in the main entrance. Whenever there is some dirty water outside, mosquitoes, worms and undesirable bacteria will soon fester. In the same way, wherever there is some dirt in your body, all these germs and insects are likely to accumulate. Not merely that, in the surroundings of your house you have to keep everything clean. There is a saying, 'Look at the house and you will know its resident'; in other words, the cleanliness of the house is a reflection of the cleanliness of the indwellers of that house. This principle of cleanliness is meant for your own good. Whether it be the house or its surroundings, if everything is kept clean, you will be happy. You have to keep yourself and everything around you clean and orderly in order to enjoy good health. When you have good health you will remain happy.


You may have only two sets of clothes, but when you wear one, you should make sure that the other is clean. Then, afterwards, you can wear the second set, cleaning the first. Actually, there is no need even for having two sets of clothes; just the one may be worn every day as long as you keep it clean. Whatever you have must be kept clean; do not allow yourself to become dirty. But just cleaning the exterior and wearing clean clothes, while keeping the heart impure, is not of much use. You have to make every effort to achieve inner purity, as well. For this purpose you need to keep all your thoughts and feelings sacred. Let your thoughts be directed towards the service of others. Do not allow jealousy or hatred to enter into you. Always try to develop feelings which are full of joy.


There is no need to bother yourself unnecessarily about others' affairs. Just always think good of others. In this context the ancient teachings declare, 'Let the whole world be happy.' To promote universal joy and well-being is the basis of the spiritual teachings and the object of all spiritual practice. Therefore, the sacred name of God should be continuously contemplated upon, so that it purifies your heart. Only when you take proper care to maintain inner and outer purity will you be able to prevent the entry of impure thoughts and harmful qualities, such as jealousy and hatred.


Conquer your Inner Enemies


Prahlada, the great devotee of the Lord, declared that only when you conquer the inner enemies can you be considered truly great. He told his father, the demon king, "You are only a king now, but if you can overcome the inner enemies that have invaded you, then you can become a great emperor." These inner enemies, including such evils as hatred, greed, pride and jealousy, make up the delusion that besets human beings. You should never allow these inner enemies to enter your heart. If you keep them out, you will be free of all difficulties and problems. To achieve that, you must treat joy and sorrow, profit and loss, heat and cold as all the same. When you develop such equanimity, these inner enemies will not touch you.


But it will be difficult to treat joy and sorrow, misery and happiness as equal unless you are firmly established in the belief that God is dwelling in every heart. When you recognize that, then all the pairs of opposites will have been conquered and they can no longer disturb your equanimity. Then you will be immersed in divine grace, and no matter how unfavorable may have been your fate, the hand of destiny can no longer touch you.


When you have the firm belief that the same divinity exists in every heart, then every obstacle is overcome. When you have full faith in the indwelling divinity, then anything and everything becomes yours. That faith is the key. It is the very root of spiritual life. Catch hold of that. That is your goal. If you need to fell a tree, it's not necessary to first cut away all the branches and leaves. Cut the trunk and the whole tree comes down. Once you gain hold of the divinity, everything comes under your control. To do this, you must develop the practice of expressing your compassion for all beings, until this concern for the welfare of others suffuses every action of your life. And also, you must develop both inner and outer purity, keeping both body and mind sparkling clean. Only then will you be able to recognize the divinity that is everpresent everywhere.


You need to realize that when in your devotion you pray to God and offer him your obeisance, it is the same God who is dwelling in every heart. So you must be very careful not to criticize others. You must develop the strong conviction that any criticism you direct towards another being will go straight to God, residing in that heart.


The Two Banks of the River of Life


Life may be compared to a river. If you allow this river of life to proceed unchecked and unbounded, you are likely to destroy many villages. You have to take whatever measures are needed to see to it that this river remains within its bounds and reaches the ocean. It is only the ocean which can bear this river and absorb it. How to make this river of life reach the ocean? In the Gita it has been said, you must have two banks constructed. When the river has two banks, it can safely go on and reach the ocean.


What are these two banks for the river of life? They have been described as two powerful mantras. On one side you have a mantra which says,


He who has doubts will perish.


On the other side you have a mantra which says,


He who has faith will attain wisdom.


So the two banks for the river of life have to do with renunciation of doubt and the blossoming forth of faith. When you have these two banks channeling your life, then you will reach the goal and merge in the ocean. This teaching given by Krishna is the very essence of devotion. It enables you to reach the ocean of infinite grace.


The Three Principles That Take You to Your Divine Goal


Krishna said, "Child, that ocean of divine grace is the goal of mankind. It is the ultimate goal of all life. Don't forget that goal. Don't believe in the world and don't be afraid of death, but ever remember the divinity which is the very reason for your having taken birth. These are the three principles I give you:


Never forget God.

Never believe in the world.

Never be afraid of death.


Take these three and inscribe them in your heart. Always remember them, for they will sanctify your life and bring you to me."


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