Talks on the Gita -Vinoba 33

Chapter 5
17. Outward Action: A Mirror of the Mind

4. Outward performance of swadharma and the inward mental vikarma—both are necessary. Outward work is, of course, necessary. The mind cannot otherwise be tested. In the stillness of early morning, we feel that our minds have become calm. But the moment a child cries, we lose our calm and it becomes clear that the peace of mind is illusory. There is, therefore, no point in avoiding outward work. The true nature of our minds, the real quality of our minds is revealed through outward work. Water in a pond appears clear, but throw a stone in it and the dirt settled at the bottom will immediately rise up. That happens with our minds too. There are heaps of dirt at the bottom of the mind’s lake. They come to the surface when disturbed by an external agent. When a man gets angry, it is not that the anger comes from without; it was already there within him. Otherwise it could never have shown itself.

People say that coloured cloth does not get dirty; white cloth does. But coloured cloth too gets dirty, although it does not appear to be so. White cloth says, “I have become dirty; wash me please.” People do not like such ‘talking’ cloth. Our action too talks. It proclaims whether we are given to selfishness or to anger or something else. Action is the mirror that reflects our true form. We should, therefore, be grateful to it. If the mirror shows that our face is unclean, would we smash the mirror? No. We would rather thank it and wash our face. Likewise, should we avoid action because it reveals the dirt in our minds—our defects and weaknesses? Is the mind going to be pure simply by avoiding action? In fact, we should continue to act while trying continually for the purification of mind.

5. A man living alone in a mountain cave, cut off from all human contact, may imagine that he has attained perfect peace of mind. But let him leave the cave and go for meals to somebody’s house and let a child playfully rattle the bolt of the door there. The innocent child may be absorbed in the music of that sound, but the recluse will find it jarring and curse the child in his mind. His stay in the isolated cave has made his mind too weak and over-sensitive to stand even the slightest disturbance. His peace of the mind may get disturbed by just a little rattling noise. It is not good that one’s mind should be in such a weak state.


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