So – direction, path and goal. When these three are in complete harmony you attain self-restraint and balance. Nanak says that is the oven, the furnace where gold is purified and all waste matter burns off. Choose your goal in full awareness, then your life becomes an arrow proceeding in a particular direction, rather than tumbling and fumbling from one corner to another like a blind man; neither are you being jostled about by the crowd, moving helplessly wherever it takes you, nor prodded and kicked from here to there by your own desires.
This is the basic difference between the man of restraint and the desire-ridden man. A man torn by desires runs in a thousand directions simultaneously. It gradually drives him insane trying to do a thousand things at the same time. When he is taking his meals his mind is involved in his shop; when he is in the shop his mind is busy with a hundred other things. Had he a thousand hands, a thousand legs, a thousand eyes, a thousand bodies, you would see the actual state of his mind: his thousand bodies would all go in different directions, with no likelihood of their meeting again.
However, this is your internal state: your mind travels in a thousand directions without any hands and feet, tearing you into fragments. Unless and until you become an integrated whole, you are not fit to be offered at the feet of God.
Many doctrines have been formed since ancient times with regard to the integrity of man. In Islam there is the concept that if a man has any part of his body maimed – whether a finger is cut off or he has undergone an operation – he is unfit to reach the feet of God. Therefore the Muslims are very fearful of operations; if they have to have one they feel guilty and fearful of becoming unfit for God.
In Pakhtoonistan if a limb has to be removed it is severed and preserved until the person dies, and is then buried along with him so that, when he approaches God, he is not incomplete. It is a very significant idea to be a fully integrated whole before approaching God, but here, as elsewhere, a wrong interpretation is being followed.
The Hindus also have this same concept. You must have heard the old stories: when a man had to be burned in a sacrificial fire care was taken that all his parts were intact. If even the slightest defect was present, say a bit of the small finger was chopped off, then he was disqualified.
The finger of a prince got crushed and broken in a door of the palace. Being a devotee who believed and trusted in God, he turned around and said to his attendant, “God be praised! I could have died.”
The attendant was surprised. “Your devotion is beyond my understanding. Your finger is broken and you are bleeding badly, yet you thank God. That is carrying devotion too far. You are only fooling yourself by thanking God for this.” The attendant was a man of reason.
The prince replied, “Wait awhile, for time will tell.” Faith cannot be explained by reason, because faith has no proof.