Do you seek power? Do you wish to conquer your world? Is the whole world your adversary? Do you seek the power of wealth and control over others? Does the world seem full of unsympathetic, unjust people, always criticizing you, attacking you? Are you anxieties and worries of the past or of the future?

Once upon a time an ancient king had a hall of mirrors built in his palace to entertain his guests. One morning after a long night of celebration, after the banquet was over and all the guests had left, the king’s pet dog wandered into this hall of mirrors. He saw himself surrounded by a thousand other dogs, baring their fangs, snarling, barking. With each of his barks was the echo of a thousand others. The valiant dog defended himself all alone from those thousand opponents. In the morning the king’s dog was found lying on the floor, totally exhausted and near death.

What would have been the best way for the king’s dog to make those thousand other dogs cease barking at him? Only to sit back and stop baring his own fangs, stop barking , stop attacking. For with each attack he made, a thousand of his own reflections lunged back at him, robbing him of life.

To find peace and true power in your life, sit back a moment and be still. Be quiet, be tranquil, and the world will cease to attack you.

Once a great woman saint was passing through a forest infested with robbers. With her was a noble woman bedecked with gold and jewels. When the robbers attacked, the saint took the jewellery of her companion, gave it to the leader of the robbers and said, “ Here my son.” When she said “my son”, there was such a depth of love in her voice that the bandit chieftain wept. “ From the time I was a child, no one has called me thus, son – and so lovingly. My mother died when I was so young” From that time on the leader of the robbers became her true son and followed her everywhere . Later he himself became a great saint. Such was the power she had over him.

There is a power which is not the power of wealth and riches nor ego. Neither is it a power exercised to control others. There is a power that is in loving eyes, the power in a gentle touch of the hand, soothing injuries, bringing light to eyes that were blind, healing the unhappy, making the lonely rejoice.

Once upon a time an emperor posed this question to his advisors: “Here, I have drawn a line on this board. Without touching this line in any way, please make it shorter.” After all his counselors had pondered over the problem and had given up, his wisest minister approached the writing tablet. He drew a line parallel to the emperor’s, but just a little longer, and said,” your Majesty, your line is now shorter.”

If you always seek to shorten the lines drawn by others, you will not win your battles. Draw your line from your own genius. Tap your own resources. Apply your concentration with an inner relaxed mind. Center your mind. Your creative energy is waiting to burst forth. There is within you an eternal genius waiting to express itself. Sit back and listen to him. Draw your line with full concentration, without comparing it to the lines of your competitors. Then you will have drawn the longest line of all.

When the famous Macedonian conqueror, Alexander the Great died in Babylonia, he said to his retinue, “When you bury me, cover me with a shroud. But place both my hands out of the shroud with the palms up and put a pinch of ashes in each, so that the world may see and know what the conqueror of the world is able to take with him.”

If you seek conquest, seek first the power of self conquest. Then seek that power which is service to others. Seek the power to benefit and comfort the many. For only such a power will be remembered. And even if you yourself do not gain from this power, many years hence generations of people will continue to benefit from it, and you will be blessed.

Once upon a time there were three young men, two of whom were not yet born and one who was not yet conceived. Suffering from the pain of miserable poverty, they decided to migrate from the city named Empty. On the way, feeling weary, they rested under the shade of three trees, two of which had never been planted and the third which has not yet grown. Having rested there and eaten of the fruits thereof, they came to three rivers, two of which had no water and the third which had run dry. They quenched their thirsts from these rivers and then crossed over in three boats, two of which had never been built and the other which had no bottom. After a long arduous journey, the three youths came to a city called Future and settled down in three houses, two of which had never been built and the third which had no walls. They lived in Future city ever after.

Your present anxieties and worries are as baseless as the unreal cities in the parable. Although your anxieties and fears and sorrows are here presently, the bad events which you base them on are forever gone or have not yet arrived. Clear your mind and in the light of your clear mind you will see that in this very moment there are solutions to the problems which have already gone or not yet arisen.

Which power do you truly wish? That which involves you with the false reflections of the snarling dogs of the world?  Or the power of peaceful tranquillity which draws people to you?  Which love do you really wish for? The phantom love of wealth and riches or ego and its control of others? Or the infinite power of the heart? Do you wish to succeed by competing against the lines drawn by others? Or do you wish to blaze forth in the creative expression of your own eternal genius?  Do you wish to conquer the world and gain only ashes?  Or the enduring powers of self-conquest and of one who has served? Do you wish to create and live in fear of the ghosts of past and future? Or to dwell in the city of divine clarity of the moment?

I wish for you the true powers of tranquillity, love, inner genius, service and divine clarity of each moment.

Editor’s Note

This is an excerpt from The Light of Ten Thousand Suns by Swami Veda Bharati.