XVII - Page 169 Home | Index | Previous | Next

Being ever Vigilant in Controlling the Senses

There was a great saint in ancient India. He was an extremely virtuous person; a truly wise man. He had complete control over his senses. One day it became known that his end would come soon. All his disciples assembled there and gathered around his bed. He was suffering from intense pain in the throat. He made heroic efforts to transcend the pain. He seemed to want to say something, but he could not speak. The disciples were very eager to find out what message their master was trying to give them during his last moments on earth. The disciples tried to help him in every way and implored him, "Swami you want to tell us something. We are eager to hear your message."

Summoning his last bit of energy, the sage found his voice and said, "My dear children, I have been followed all this time by maya, the power of illusion. Illusion told me, 'Everyone else has become my slave, no one has succeeded in becoming free of me, except you. You have been able to completely control your sense organs and, thereby, you have been able to conquer me.' Then I replied, 'Maya, I may have conquered you up to now, but you know and I know that I have not fully conquered you yet. There is still a little life left, and a few breaths are still to come. Until my very last breath has been taken, I will not relax until I have conquered you totally.' My dear children, until now I have been able to control the senses and conquer maya, but I do not know whether I will continue to succeed until my last breath. During these last few moments, in order to free myself from maya, I have been thinking only of God and praying to him with all my heart." Then he fell silent, and thus he consummated his life.

As this story shows, you must be careful until the very last breath of your life not to yield to the sense organs. To realize the immortal self you must control the outgoing senses. Therefore, sense-control is an integral part of the path of wisdom, as taught by Krishna. Once you gain full control of the senses, you will easily be able to master the spiritual path.

In the beginning you may be subjected to a certain amount of difficulty. When you learn to drive, you first have to go to an open field and practice there. It is only after you have learned to control the car and have mastered the art of driving that you can take the car onto the main thoroughfares and the narrow streets of the city. If you try driving in city traffic before that, it will not only be difficult for you but also dangerous. Similarly, once you have mastered the senses and are unaffected by the allurements of the world, then you can face any situation without concern or problems.