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The Story of the Officer and the Preceptor
There was once a government officer who did not believe in the great power of words to transform minds, particularly when it came to spiritual teachings. He happened to be the education secretary for a district, and included among the schools he had under his auspices were some religious institutions. One day he visited one of these schools where a preceptor was teaching the holy scriptures to a number of young students. This spiritual teacher was expounding on some very profound concepts. Sitting there listening to this, the officer developed a headache. Finally, he told the teacher, "My dear fellow. These are small children. There is no need to burden them unnecessarily with such lectures. This will be completely useless to them. Such scriptural truths and deep philosophical concepts cannot possibly be grasped and understood by such small children."
The teacher replied that only when children are at such a tender and impressionable age can they be led onto the proper path. Being taught these noble truths from the very beginning, he felt, would clear their hearts of doubts and put them on the right track in life. The officer said, "I do not believe in all these words. How can mere words transform the mind? I do not think this will ever be possible." The teacher tried to convince him through various explanations and arguments, but the officer would not listen and allow any of the teacher's wisdom to penetrate into him. It was a case of a closed mind. Too much authority often results in cynicism and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Cleverness follows and in a short time all the virtues disappear and the reason becomes impaired.
When the teacher realized that no matter how hard he tried it was impossible to explain his point of view to this officer, he decided to prove his point by a practical lesson that the officer was sure to understand. He asked the youngest of the students to get up and told this small boy, "Child, you go and physically throw this officer out of the room. Do it immediately!" The moment he heard these words, the officer got very angry. He started shouting at the teacher, "Who do you think you are? I am a government officer, I am the education secretary of this district, and you are asking a small child to send me out! How dare you do this?"
The teacher then told the officer, "Well sir, I did not beat you or hit you or even touch you. I did not do anything to you. Just by merely hearing some words you seem to be getting very upset. What could be the reason for your becoming so angry? It is because of these few words I used, isn't it?" This is how the teacher demonstrated to him that words can be very powerful. They have an enormous capability for doing great harm or great good, according to the way they are used. After this personal lesson the officer left, but now much wiser and humbled by his experience.