There was once an Indian spiritual Master whose disciples were extremely fond of him. They were especially fond of his infinite wisdom.
One day the Master gave a talk on the acceptance of life. Everybody was deeply moved. Only one person did not fully appreciate it. She came up to the Master and said, “Master, you know that I have been worshipping you soulfully ever since I accepted your spiritual path — of course, according to my own capacity. But today I simply can’t accept your advice.
“You know I have been cursed by God with two sons. They make demands on me in season and out of season, and they don’t allow me to pray and meditate. I feel miserable. If I had not been married like my spiritual sisters, I would have made very fast progress. I am sure that renunciation is the easiest way to make the fastest progress. One should reject life right from the beginning.”
The Master said, “My child, don’t be a fool. With boundless compassion I am telling you something. There are many women on earth who were once upon a time married, but whose husbands and dear ones left them one by one. Now they have nothing on earth to bind them, but they are not meant for the spiritual life. What they do is this. They tame a cat or a dog or some pet animal. Some of them are very poor; with greatest difficulty they maintain their livelihood. Yet they buy milk for their cats. They manage to feed their dogs with utmost love and concern.
“And then, if the cat leaves their house and goes to eat elsewhere, they search and search for the cat. Then if they find the cat at a neighbour’s house, they accuse the neighbour of tempting the cat to come and eat there. They scold the neighbour mercilessly, and the neighbour insults them like anything: ‘Who needs your cat?’ Often there are fights between the owner and the accused neighbour. Nobody else needs the cat, but the owner feels that her cat was tempted and that this is the reason it goes elsewhere to eat. In this way their disputes never end, and village quarrels have no mother, no father, no beginning, no ending.
“Now isn’t a child of your own flesh and blood infinitely more important than a cat? You will give up your sons, but if you don’t conquer attachment, then you will feel compelled to replace them with cats, dogs and pets. It is better to have human beings, who are much more evolved than animals. To deal with an evolved being is infinitely more meaningful and fruitful.
“The best way is to see God inside your own children. If you could see God and your Master inside your children, then you would regard them in a different way. You would not feel miserable, but you would show them more affection, more love and more concern. In this way you would have more peace of mind.
“So try to see me inside them. Then all your problems will be over. Renunciation is not the way. For if today you renounce something, then tomorrow you are bound to get attached to something else. Just accept what you have, and illumine your sons with your inner light, if necessity demands. That is the correct way, the spiritual way.”
GIM 29. 9 January 1979↩