The Garden of the Mind: the value of sacrifice

The Garden of the Mind: the value of sacrificeIn modern speech, there is a topic called ”delayed gratification”, where a person puts off or forgoes satisfaction of wants and desires in order to reach a greater goal that they have set for themselves. When such a person reaches their goal, others look and wonder, or perhaps say, ‘he or she was lucky’. A tidy mind focussed on the big goals of life (that have been laid down) can easily set priorities and make many small sacrifices to meet the goal in mind.

Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not long remain so if you but perceive an Ideal and strive to reach it. You cannot travel within and stand still without. Here is a youth hard pressed by poverty and labour; confined long hours in an unhealthy workshop; unschooled, and lacking all the arts of refinement. But he dreams of better things. He thinks of intelligence, of refinement, of grace and beauty. He conceives of, mentally builds up, an ideal condition of life. The vision of the wider liberty and a larger scope takes possession of him; unrest urges him to action, and he utilises all his spare time and means, small though they are, to the development of his latent powers and resources.

Very soon so altered has his mind become that the workshop can no longer hold him. It has become so out of harmony with his mentality that it falls out of his life as a garment is cast aside, and with the growth of opportunities which fit the scope of his expanding powers, he passes out of it forever.

Years later we see this youth as a full-grown man. We find him a master of certain forces of the mind which he wields with world-wide influence and almost unequalled power. In his hands he holds the cords of gigantic responsibilities. He speaks, and lo! lives are changed. Men and women hang upon his words and remould their characters, and, sun-like, he becomes the fixed and luminous centre around which innumerable destinies revolve. He has realised the Vision of his youth. He has become one with his Ideal.

The Garden of the Mind: the value of sacrifice

The thoughtless, the ignorant, and the indolent, seeing only the apparent effects of things and not the things themselves, talk of luck, of fortune, and chance. See a man grow rich, they say, “How lucky he is!” Observing another become intellectual, they exclaim, “How highly favoured he is!” And noting the saintly character and wide influence of another, the remark, “How chance aids him at every turn!

They do not see the trials and failures and struggles which these men have voluntarily encountered in order to gain their experience. They have no knowledge of the sacrifices they have made, of the undaunted efforts they have put forth, of the faith they have exercised, that they might overcome the apparently insurmountable, and realise the Vision of their heart. They do not know the darkness and the heartaches; they only see the light and joy, and call it “luck”; do not see the long and arduous journey, but only behold the pleasant goal, and call it “good fortune”; do not understand the process, but only perceive the result, and call it “chance.”

In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result. Chance is not. “Gifts,” powers, material, intellectual, and spiritual possessions are the fruits of effort. They are thoughts completed, objects accomplished, visions realised.

The vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you enthrone in your heart – this you will build your life by, this you will become.


The Garden of the Mind: the value of sacrifice


Napoleon had some spiritual development. In order to conquer the remaining countries during the war, he had to first conquer his sleep and hunger. He trained himself to sleep and wake at any appointed time. Once when Napoleon was wounded with arrows in the war, and the doctors wished to operate, he refused saying that he would first meditate. He allowed the doctors to remove the arrows only during meditation in the evening without an anaesthetic. Napoleon had full control over his mind and thus was able to transcend it.

For the body, one’s mind is the master; for the mind, one’s intellect is the master; for the intellect, the Soul is the Master. So the Master of life is the Soul. If we merge the intellect in God, all the senses would be subjugated. Mahatma Gandhi prayed that all should have a good intellect- “Sab ko sanmati do Bhagavan.” A purified intellect reflecting the light of the Soul confers true wisdom. When the intellect is full of God, naturally one will follow the correct path and experience peace and bliss. If the mind follows the senses, one is ruined.

Follow the Master;
Fight to the end;
Face the Devil;
Finish the game.

Who is the Master? Your conscience is the Master, so follow the conscience. To face the devil means to avoid bad company, thoughts and actions. To fight to the end means to work to subdue the unruly senses. Say, “O bad senses, don’t go there, go only toward God; eyes, see only God; ears, listen only to God’s glories, etc.”

See no evil; see what is good.
Hear no evil; hear what is good.
Think no evil; think what is good.
Talk no evil; talk what is good.
Do no evil: do what is good.
This is the way to God.

The word “good” has two zeros. One zero stands for the world. If you remove this one zero (the world), only God will remain. So see good, do good, and be good to merge with God.

Direct all of your actions toward God. In Christianity it is said, “All are One, be alike to everyone.”


Gandhi, South Africa, circa 1909
Gandhi, South Africa, circa 1909

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