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Clean Your mind of all Impurities

A milkman, deeply influenced by Gautama Buddha, requested Buddha to visit him and share with him nuggets of wisdom. In lieu of this, the milkman offered to present the seer with milk. Buddha agreed.

In the evening, when Buddha set out to visit the milkman, he took with him a container in which he intentionally put some mud. The milkman took the container but just as he was about to pour milk into it, realised that the container had some impurities in it.

The milkman washed the container clean. He then poured milk into it and gave it to Buddha. Picking up the container, Buddha got up to leave. Surprised, the milkman asked Buddha why he was leaving before imparting any wisdom. Buddha replied that he just had. Confused, the milkman urged Buddha to explain what he meant. Buddha told the milkman: "The mind is like the container. Thoughts that preoccupy us are like the impurities in the container. In order to gain wisdom, you must purify your mind by making it free of impure thoughts. Only when your mind is uncluttered, it will be able to receive wisdom."

In a nutshell, what Gautama Buddha was trying to teach the milkman was that the mind needs to be prepared first – by cleansing it of impurities – so that it is fully prepared to receive wisdom, enabling it to realise its full potential. Living a self-absorbed and self-centred life is harmful to one's development. Such a way of life leaves no room for receptivity; when you think of nothing but your own self, there is no room for learning or progress.

A sceptic was being critical of the work of scientists. He said to a scientist: "All discoveries are nothing but chance occurrences." Calmly, the scientist replied: "You are right. But curiously, such chances took place only with scientists!" It is apparent that only a prepared mind is receptive and only a receptive mind is open to new ideas. There is nothing mysterious about it. It is quite understandable that only a mind that has engrossed itself in trying to unravel a phenomenon, would eventually be able to decipher it. However, a price must be paid to attain such a state; it takes effort and time to reach a state where the mind is fully prepared to receive. For this, you need to be sincere in your efforts, objective and unbiased in your approach and be ready to accept your mistakes and reassess your approach towards the target.

I recall here an anecdote about the Sufi saint Bahaullah. He once visited another saint, Fariduddin, for receiving guidance. Bahaullah gained the wisdom imparted to him in a very short span of time. Seeing this, some other of Fariduddin's disciples accused him of favouritism. As Fariduddin heard of these charges, he told his disciple that Bahaullah was like dry wood - ready for ignition - while all the rest of them were like wet wood, slow to catch fire as wet wood is not receptive to getting ignited. Dry wood is highly combustible and catches fire easily. High levels of receptivity enable us to imbibe spiritual guidance.

In order to be receptive to truth, one must make the effort to wait with a prepared mind. As human beings and by virtue of our societal existence, we tend to become conditioned entities. It is this conditioning that is a major obstacle in the way to wisdom. To be able to overcome this hurdle, we must be prepared to revisit existing ideas. We need to be willing to rise above bias and prejudice and become receptive to truths that may come to us from anywhere.

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