Once Nanak happened to camp by the side of a well outside a village inhabited by Sufi fakirs. Early the next morning when the head of the Sufis came to know of Nanak’s arrival, he sent Nanak a cup of milk filled to the brim. It was so full that not a drop could be added. Nanak broke a flower from a nearby shrub, put it in the cup and sent it back to the Sufi guru. The flower floated on the milk, because what weight has a flower? Nanak’s disciple, Mardana, was puzzled and asked Nanak what all this meant.
Nanak explained: “The Sufi’s message said there was no room, that the village is so full of sages that it can accommodate no more. My reply let him know that I shall ask for no extra space, because I am as light as the flower and shall float at the top!”
He who is unburdened is a sage. He who has weight is still ignorant and his weight can harm others until he is completely free of all burdens. Nonviolence occurs on its own. Love flowers on its own. No one can bring about love or implant compassion; if you become free of all burdens, it all happens on its own. As a shadow follows a man, so hatred, anger, malice and violence follow the man weighted down with anxiety. Love, compassion, pity, prayer follow in the wake of a weightless person. So the primary issue is to annihilate the ego within.
There is only one way to annihilate the ego. The Vedas have referred to it as Rit; Lao Tzu calls it Tao; Buddha has called it Dhamma; Mahavira’s word is Dharma; Nanak refers to it as Hukum – divine order. He who conducts himself according to his command without making a single movement on his own, with no desires or feelings of his own, or need to introduce his own self, is alone the religious man.
And he who puts himself under his command attains all; there is nothing left to be attained. To obey his command is the gateway to his heart. To believe in oneself is to turn your back on God; obey his will, and you face him again. You may lead your life with your back to the sun and you will never be able to shake off the darkness; no sooner do you turn your face towards the sun than the darkness of innumerable lives vanishes. The only way to stand before God is to leave your own will. To float is enough. There is no need to swim and carry a load unnecessarily. All defeats and all victories are diseases of your own ego.
Your condition is like that of the fly who sat on the hub of a huge chariot’s wheel which raised an immense cloud of dust as it moved. The fly looked around and saw nothing but dust. It said to itself, “I am raising so much dust that I must be very big myself!” Whether you are successful or suffer defeat, it is all because of this dust. You are nothing more than the fly on the chariot wheel, so don’t bring in your puny self by thinking it is you who is raising the dust. The dust is of his chariot, as is the journey.
You must have heard the story of the lizard. Once his friends invited him for a walk in the jungle. “I am sorry, I can’t go,” he answered, “because if I were to leave, who will support the ceiling of the king’s palace? If the ceiling falls, the responsibility will be mine.” The poor thing thinks so much depends on it! And if it is possible for a lizard to think so….