Rare Quotes from a Rare Master
by Swami Krishnananda


1. Practical Wisdom


That is wisdom which can reconcile itself with actual life. When the realities of practical life conflict with or stare at the knowledge we possess, it should be remembered that such knowledge is immature and is a mere theory. Moreover, it is not knowledge ‘of’ life that we need; we require knowledge which ‘is’ life, and is inseparable from its daily vexations. We have to view ourselves in a universal context and then live life, not look upon ourselves as individuals who have to be at war with the world in our everyday life.

‘God helps those who help themselves.’ But we have to help ourselves in terms of God’s law which requires that we sacrifice ourselves in every one of our acts in such a manner that our acts help in exceeding the lower personality by degrees and approximating God’s existence.


The distance between you and God is the same as the extent of your desire for the world.

A Sultan asked an astrologer to tell something about his future. The astrologer said: “Your highness will live long to see all your sons dead.” The Sultan was enraged and ordered the astrologer’s arrest and imprisonment. He consulted another astrologer on the same point. This second astrologer said: “Your highness will enjoy a long life and outlive all your family.” The Sultan was highly pleased and gave him rich presents. Both the astrologers knew the truth, but the latter knew the Sultan.

What you have enjoyed yourself and what you have given over to others in charity or as gift is really yours. Everything else is of doubtful nature and you are merely a protector thereof.

In sense-desire the mind craves for union with the reality outside, seen by it in the form of objects. It hugs them physically imagining that thereby the desired union is achieved. But the union can never be effected thus, for here the body of the subject as well as the body of the object stand as obstacles to the intended union. The union is never attained. But, then, the desire can also never die, for the union has not been gained. Thus one’s whole life is spent in desiring but achieving nothing.

In your dealings with another person try first to think through the feelings of that person and then try again to overcome the limitations of those feelings by rational methods of approach. This will avoid much of the unnecessary tangles in which social life is caught up every day.

Do not keep anything which you will be afraid of showing to others.
Do not do anything which you would not like others to know.
In spiritual life secrecy has no place except in regard to one’s Sadhana.

We cannot be really happy if we cannot enjoy a flower without plucking it from the plant.

“Even this will pass away”: This is a good maxim to remember that our joys and sorrows are not permanent, and that we should always be therefore unattached and hopeful of a better future.

We can judge ourselves as to the spiritual progress we make by the extent to which we are free from seeing defects in others. The wider we grow, the narrower does become the eye which sees defects in the world.

When we come in conflict with things we are likely to think that the things are against us. But this would be like imagining that a stone is against us because it is thrown at us by someone. The things and circumstances are only instruments in meting out our dues.

They say that procrastination is the thief of time, postponing a work which needs to be done immediately. There is no use committing the same mistake again and again and resolving every day to avoid it, but with no success. Something positive has to be done with strength of will.

Often, what matters most is not the words that are said but the way in which they are said. People either bore or irritate others with what they regard as wisdom, when it is wrongly uttered or expressed at the wrong moment or told to the wrong person, though the intention behind it may be good. Judgement of circumstances is necessary to bring about the requisite result. Else effort may become a waste or even harmful.

Where either the question of self-respect or sex is involved, the spirit of service goes to the winds.

Our joys and sorrows are just sensations or experiences and cannot be called either good or bad, even as we cannot say whether the heat of the sun or the coldness of water is good or bad. Goodness and badness of things are personal evaluations of situations which are themselves impersonal.

Thus did a wise man pray: ‘Give me the will to change what I can, the strength to bear what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ This is the secret of worldly wisdom, that which decides the nature of one’s success in life.

Often it so happens that our contemplation on a vice which we feel we have and which we wish to avoid leads us more deeply into it until it is too late to recover from the shock of this knowledge of the fact about us. It is better not to think of a vice, even if we have it, and concern ourselves only with positive virtue and spiritual conduct.

The ingratitude of man and the certainty of death are incentives enough to stir non-attachment in anyone. We can depend on human beings only to some extent, until we displease them or they are displeased with us. Human love is conditional. And it is futile to imagine that death comes only tomorrow.

The nearer you are to your desired object, the greater is the pleasure you derive within. The greatest pleasure is when the object is nearest to you, when you have the sense of its possession, nay, when its being is merged in your being in a self-identical experience.

“Love all, but trust a few” is a good policy in social dealings. To trust a few is, of course, not to be suspicious of everyone, but to be vigilant in every case even when things are entrusted to others for execution or when some situations are involved in other personalities. One should not trust even one’s own self when the senses are in the proximity of their desired objects.

Dirt is matter out of place. Weed is a plant out of place. Nuisance is action out of place. Even those things, acts or words which are normally good and useful become bad, useless and even harmful when they are out of place, time and circumstance. A knowledge of this fact is an essential part of wisdom.

The temptation from the evil one comes, first, in the form of unsettled thinking which makes one immediately forget the Presence of God. This is at once followed by the implementation of the evil move, whether in the shape of passion or anger. When the deed is done and the matter has ended, the remembrance of God might come in, but it rarely appears in the presence of things which we either love or hate.

When you have inadvertently done a wrong, switch on the situation, person or thing involved to the Absolute and concentrate on the former as an inseparable part of the latter. The wound shall then be healed and the determination to refrain from repeating the act shall make you stronger than before.

It is under the strain of mental pain that one loses one’s psychological balance and sees things erroneously. This pain may come in either due to frustrated passions and ambitions or by occurrences in the world which take us by surprise. It is best for a wise man to expect the worst and not be taken aback when things go dead wrong and the earth itself seems to give way under one’s feet. Nature is no respecter of persons who are ignorant of her laws.

The vision of God seems to be as far from us even now as it was many years back and there is no proper yardstick with which the progress made on the path can be measured. There is much difference of opinion as to this matter among wise men, and the wisdom of one does not seem to tally in all details with that of another. Perhaps self-confidence coupled with goodness and an immense capacity for adjustment, as well as continuous delight form a good touchstone.

It is necessary that we should make ourselves happy in spite of the usual vicissitudes, upheavals and oppositions of day-to-day life. For this, it is essential to have a permanent background of thought, to which one has resort whenever there is any cause of outward disturbance. If we cannot be happy, we are the losers and not someone else. The cause of happiness is always with us. It need not be imported or purchased from without.

The energies that are usually dissipated get reabsorbed into the system by proper meditative practices. One of the ways of rectifying past mistakes is to forget them altogether and not retain any memories. Also positive effort should be made for rejuvenating one’s thoughts by deeper meditation every day. As much time is taken in the act of fixing the attention of the mind, all the time spent in a posture, in one’s meditation room, cannot be regarded as utilised in meditation. Though the striking of the match is quickly done, the making of the match takes a long time.

God first; the world next; yourself last: follow this sequence in the development of the thought-process so that God’s Power and existence may be affirmed in everything.