We read a passage from the Mother’s writing of Questions and Answers On the Dhammapada. (CWM Vol. 3, pp.183 – 187)
We read the following passage from the Mother’s writing:
If a man speaks or acts with an evil mind, suffering follows him as the wheel follows the hoof of the bullock that pulls the cart.
There are four movements which are usually consecutive, but which in the end may be simultaneous: to observe one’s thoughts is the first, to watch over one’s thoughts is the second, to control one’s thoughts is the third and to master one’s thoughts is the fourth. To observe, to watch over, to control, to master. All that to get rid of an evil mind, for we are told that the man who acts or speaks with an evil mind is followed by suffering as closely as the wheel follows the hoof of a bullock that ploughs or draws the cart.
This is our first meditation.
Mind predominates. Everything proceeds from mind. In all things the primordial element is mind. If a man speaks or acts with a purified mind, happiness accompanies him as closely as his inseparable shadow.
This is the counterpart of what we read last time. The Dhammapada contrasts a purified mind with an evil mind. We have already said that there are four successive stages for the purification of the mind. A purified mind is naturally a mind that does not admit any wrong thought, and we have seen that the complete mastery of thought which is required to gain this result is the last achievement in the four stages I have spoken of. The first is: to observe one’s mind.
Do not believe that it is such an easy thing, for to observe your thoughts, you must first of all separate yourself from them. In the ordinary state, the ordinary man does not distinguish himself from his thoughts. He does not even know that he thinks. He thinks by habit. And if he is asked all of a sudden, “What are you thinking of?”, he knows nothing about it. That is to say, ninety-five times out of a hundred he will answer, “I do not know.” There is a complete identification between the movement of thought and the consciousness of the being. I suggest that this evening in our meditation we take up this first exercise which consists in standing back from one’s thought and looking at it.
“He has insulted me, he has beaten me, he has humiliated me, he has robbed me.” Those who nourish thoughts such as these never appease their hatred.
The Dhammapada tells us first of all that bad thoughts bring about suffering and good thoughts bring about happiness. Now it gives examples of what bad thoughts are and tells us how to avoid suffering. Here is the first example, I repeat: “He has insulted me, he has beaten me, he has humiliated me, he has robbed me”; and it adds: “Those who nourish thoughts such as these never appease their hatred.”
As I have told you, the Dhammapada will give us examples, but examples are only examples. We must ourselves learn how to distinguish thoughts that are good from those that are not, and for that you must observe, as I have said, like an enlightened judge—that is to say, as impartially as possible; it is one of the most indispensable conditions.
“He has insulted me, he has beaten me, he has humiliated me, he has robbed me.” Those who do not nourish thoughts such as these foster no hatred.
This is the counterpart of what we read the other day. But note that this concerns only thoughts that generate resentment. It is because rancour, along with jealousy, is one of the most widespread causes of human misery.
But how to avoid having rancour? A large and generous heart is certainly the best means, but that is not within the reach of all. Controlling one’s thought may be of more general use.
Thought-control is the third step of our mental discipline. Once the enlightened judge of our consciousness has distinguished between useful and harmful thoughts, the inner guard will come and allow to pass only approved thoughts, strictly refusing admission to all undesirable elements.
With a commanding gesture the guard will refuse entry to every bad thought and push it back as far as possible. It is this movement of admission and refusal that we call thought-control and this will be the subject of our meditation tonight.
For, in truth, in this world hatred is not appeased by hatred; hatred is appeased by love alone. This is the eternal law.
Yet, there is one aspect of the problem which is less spoken of but which seems perhaps more urgent still if you want things to change in the world, something to which people give very little thought. I am going to surprise you. It is this: if love must be returned for hatred in order that the world may change, would it not be even more natural that love should be returned for Love?
If one considers the life and action and heart of men as they are, one would have every right to be surprised at all the hatred, contempt, or at best, the indifference which are returned for this immensity of Love which the divine Grace pours upon the world, for this immensity of Love which acts upon the world at every second to lead it towards the divine delight and which finds so poor a response in the human heart. But people have compassion only for the wicked, the deficient, the misshapen, for the unsuccessful ones and the failures—truly it is an encouragement to wickedness and failure.
If one thought a little more of this aspect of the problem, perhaps one would have less need to insist on the necessity of returning love for hatred, because if the human heart responded in all sincerity to the Love that is being poured into it with the spontaneous gratitude of a love which understands and appreciates, then things would change quickly in the world. (CWM 3: 183 – 187)