He who would keep the rules must diligently guard his thought; the rules cannot be kept by him who guards not the fickle thought. Untamed elephants in their madness do not such harm here as the thought works in Avīchī and the rest of the hells, a. young elephant ranging free. But if the young elephant of thought be entirely bound by the rope of remembrance, all peril departs, and perfect happiness comes. Tigers, lions, elephants, bears, snakes, all foes, all the warders of the hells, witches and devils, all of them are bound, if only thought be bound; all are subdued if only thought be subdued. The Speaker of the Truth has said that from thought alone come all our countless terrors and griefs. Who has diligently forged the swords of hell, or its pavement of red-hot iron, and whence were born its sirens?
All this has sprung from the sinful thought, as the Saint’s song tells; thus in the threefold world there is no foe to fear save the thought. If the Perfect Charity frees the world from poverty, how could the Saviours of old have had it, since the world is still poor? The Perfect Charity is declared to be the thought of surrendering to all beings our whole possessions and likewise the merit thereof; thus it is but a thought. Where can fishes and other creatures be brought into safety, that I may not slay them? When the thought to do them no hurt is conceived, that is deemed the Perfect Conduct. How many can I slay of the wicked, who are measureless as space? But when the thought of wrath is slain, all my foes are slain. Whence can be found leather enough to cover the whole earth? But with a single leather shoe the whole ground is covered. In like manner the forces without me I cannot control; but I will control the thought within me, and what need have I for control of the rest? Though aided by voice and body, indolence can never win for its prize an estate such as that of Brahmā, which falls to the lot of the vigorous unaided thought. The prayers and mortifications of a heedless and feeble man, however long he labour, are all in vain, says the Omniscient. To overcome sorrow and win happiness men wander in vain, for they have not sanctified their thought, the mysterious essence of holiness. Then I must keep my thought well governed and well guarded; what need is there of any vows save the vow to guard the thought?
The thief Heedlessness, waiting to escape the eye of remembrance, robs men of the righteousness they have gathered, and they come to an evil lot. The Passions, a band of robbers, seek a lodging, and when they have found it they rob us and destroy our good estate of life. Then let remembrance never withdraw from the portal of the spirit; and if it depart, let it be brought back by remembering the anguish of hell. Remembrance grows easily in happy obedient souls from the reverence raised by their teachers’ lore and from dwelling with their masters. “The Enlightened and their Sons keep unfailing watch in every place. Everything is before them, I stand in their presence.” Pondering this thought, a man will be possessed by modesty, obedience, and reverence, and the remembrance of the Enlightened will thus be always with him. When remembrance stands on guard at the portal of the spirit, watchfulness conies, and nevermore departs. The thought thus must be kept ever under watch; I must always be as if without carnal sense, like a thing of wood. The eyes must never glance around without object; their gaze should always be downward, as if in meditation. But sometimes, to rest his gaze, one may look around him; he sees [strangers] as mere phantoms, but gill turn his eyes upon them to bid them welcome. On the road, and other such places, he will look from time to time to the four quarters of space, to take note of danger; he will rest and turn round to took about him. He will go forward or backward with hoed, and in all conditions do what he has to do with understanding. In every act that he undertakes he will consider the due posture of his body, and from time to time will look to see how it is. Ho will watch with great heed the wild elephant of his thought, so that it remain bound to the stout stake of holy meditation and become not loosed. He will watch to sec where his mind is moving, so that it may not even for an instant cast off the yoke of rapt devotion. . . .
When the body is dragged hither and thither by vultures lusting for meat, why is it powerless to save itself? Why dost thou watch over this frame, O my spirit, as if it were thine own? If it is a thing apart from thee, what canst thou lose thereby? Silly one, what thou claimest as thine is not as clean as a wooden doll; why dost thou cling to this rotten machine framed in foulness? Lift in thy imagination this envelope of skin, and with the scalpel of wisdom remove the flesh from the frame of bones. Open likewise the bones, and look upon the marrow within them. Then ask thyself what essential thing is therein. And now that thou hast made diligent search and found therein nothing essential, say wherefore thou stilt clingest to the body. Thou canst not eat its impurities and entrails, nor drink its blood; what wilt thou do with the body? This poor flesh, which thou guardest in order to feed vultures, jackals, and the like, is fitted only to be a tool for men’s works. Though thou guardest it thus, pitiless Death will tear away the body and give it to the vultures; and then what, wilt thou do? To a servant who will not remain, gifts of garments and the like are not given; when it has eaten, the body will depart, then why waste thy riches upon it? Pay to it its wage, then set thy thought upon thine own business; for we give not to the hireling all that ho may earn. Conceive of the body as a ship that travels to and fro, and make it go at thy bidding for creatures to fulfil their end. He who is thus master of himself will ever bear a smiling face; he will put away frowns and be first to greet others, a friend of the world. He will not noisily and hastily throw down benches or the like, nor beat upon a door, but always will delight in silence. The crane, the cat, and the thief walk silently and calmly and accomplish the end that they desire; thus the holy man will always act. He will accept with bowed head the words of those who are skilful in exhorting others and do kindness unsought; ho will ever be the disciple of all men. He will give applause to all kindly words; when he sees one who does righteous works, he will gladden him with praises.
The Perfections, Charity, and the rest, are of an ascending order of excellence; he will not forsake a more excellent for another, save in respect of the dyke of virtue. Thus minded, he will be always active for the welfare of others; even a forbidden deed is permitted to him in his kindliness, if he foresees a good result. He will give of his alms to the fallen, the masterless, and the religious, and eat himself but a moderate portion; he will surrender everything but his three robes. He will not for slight purpose afflict his body, which is in the service of the Good Law; for thus it will speedily fulfil the desires of living beings. And therefore he will not cast away his life for one whose spirit of mercy is impure, but only for one whose spirit is like his own; and thus naught is lost.