Guru only means a person who has found the door and can stop you from wandering. He will warn you from treading a path that may seem very attractive and very promising but is only a pseudo-path. You may attain wealth – untold wealth, but what will you gain in the end? Where will you reach? You will find yourself smack against a wall. What will you attain through position? Ultimately you will find the path is lost. Protect your reputation as you will, but what does it yield in the end? Those who respect you have nothing themselves, so what will they give you? What value is the opinion of worthless people? From whom do you seek honor and respect – from those without eyes to see? Even if they pay homage to you, what is it worth? It is like a bubble; no sooner do you get it, it bursts into thin air.
Self-restraint is the furnace;
He has used the word furnace after long deliberation. For restraint is not a bed of roses; it is fire. The mind would crave a bed of flowers, and find all logical excuses for non-restraint. The mind refers to non-restraint as enjoyment and it calls self-restraint suffering; whereas the reality is just the opposite.
Enjoyment is suffering because the more you enjoy the more you rot. Every sense-enjoyment leads you ultimately to gloom and dejection. After each enjoyment you find yourself a little more broken in body and in spirit, a little uglier and more deformed. You had hardly anything to call your own, but whatever little you possessed is lost, and you are left a beggar, wanting more. And still the mind urges you on for more and more pleasures telling you that time is running out. Who knows whether this opportunity will come your way again?
The mind never says: “Practice restraint! Who knows whether this moment will come again in this lifetime, or not?” It never urges you forward on the path for fear of time running out, because the mind always hankers after pleasure.
Try to recognize how the mind always yearns for happiness, but instead always gets unhappiness. It seems as if on the door to happiness is written: Sorrow and Suffering, and on every door of unhappiness is written: Happiness. Seeing the sign the mind enters, but it is deluged by suffering and sorrow.
Kahlil Gibran has written a very nice story. He says when God created the world He created a Goddess of Beauty and a Goddess of Ugliness. He sent them both to earth. Since the road from heaven to earth is very long, they were both tired before they reached halfway. They looked at their clothes so covered with dust that they could hardly make one another out. So they halted beside a lake and decided to take a bath and wash their clothes. There was no one around so they removed their clothes and stepped into the water without fear. The Goddess of Beauty loved the feeling of the cold, soothing waters. She swam far out. The Goddess of Ugliness grabbed the opportunity and quickly came ashore, put on her companion’s clothes and disappeared.
After some time the Goddess of Beauty, having had her fill and realizing it was getting late, decided to come ashore. To her surprise her companion was missing and so were her clothes. What was she to do? The people from the village were arriving. She was obliged to put on the ugly one’s clothes. Gibran says, “Ever since then ugliness masquerades on earth in the clothes of the Goddess of Beauty, while the latter moves about in her clothes.”