The Feeling of Self-importance is Ruinous
On analyzing the causes of people's difficulties, one is driven to the conclusion that they spring basically from bodily pain or illness, and insufficiency of money. Help in these two respects would, apparently make most people happier, and so my mind started to ponder on the idea.
Considering first the item of money, I noted that being myself penniless, and devoid of a desire to earn or own money, I must first create such urge in myself, then acquire and conserve money, and thereafter spend it in the service of the needy. This, however, is not so easy as it appears; for who can guarantee that the basic desire to earn and conserve money will not dominate my heart and dissuade it from giving it away? That will amount to polluting the mind with greed from which, fortunately, it is free today, and the remedy will thus be worse than the disease. I shall, in that event, not only be unable to assist others, but also be losing the present purity of heart from base desires and tendencies.
The other item is pain of the body. One who has utterly rid himself of the 'body-am-I' feeling cannot adequately appreciate an other's body-pain. Consequently, I shall have to recreate in myself the 'body-am-I' feeling. Even if that is done, and the other's bodily ailment is cured, is there any guarantee that the trouble will never recur, or that another ailment will not arise? Today's colic may be stopped, but there are hundreds of disorders that may crop up at a later time. Thus, there is no permanent immunity from all types of human misery, and on the other hand, the curer himself may have to suffer spiritual degradation. I therefore think it best to pray to Rama to favour me by protecting me from both the desire and the power to bring about such things.
There are two principal causes that destroy the innocence of childhood: money, and worldly knowledge. Both these create a sense of self-importance, and this sense is harmful for the spiritual pursuit. The feeling "I belong to so-and-so" is greatly helpful, for then we tend to ascribe all doership and greatness and goodness to the Master, instead of taking credit ourselves and unknowingly pampering the feeling of self-importance.
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