So many things we gain and lose. A musician ha to practise hours and hours every day, and for how long do you think he remains a musician? After some years he finds his body has become feeble, his voice has become feeble; he cannot sing any more, he cannot play any more. All these things happen, and yet how many years of his life have been devoted to this effort, how many hours of practice every day! And compared with that, even the little spiritual effort that you make from day to day in the beginning is infinitely fruitful. Actually, in the beginning you can’t practise hours and hours with impunity. Until your whole body has undergone a change and your mind has fallen in line, it is dangerous to concentrate and meditate too long; there will be too much of a revolt within you. But even a little effort will bring peace and knowledge and steadiness and strength and purity into your life, and you will never lose those things. For a time they may become submerged, if you make mistakes, but they will never die; it is just a question of time before they again come out.
When I think about it, as I often do, I am really amazed at the grace of the Lord or if you don’t believe in God, then at the nature of the Self: with such comparatively little effort we gain so much that is of eternal validity; we become all transformed! Not merely do we become transformed, other people coming in contact with us sense the existence of something they could never have dreamt of before. One person, if he is peaceful, can bring peace to thousands without saying a single word.
I remember when I was studying in Calcutta, I was standing one afternoon just outside the gate of the college, and across the street a middle-aged woman was walking along. What a face! Quite clearly she had been to the Ganges, which was about three miles distant at that point. It is the habit of many Hindus, to walk before dawn to the Ganges, bathe there, and meditate for hours and hours; and then at noon, or after noon, they return home. You can recognize them by their clothes. You see, the Ganges is often very muddy, and so after one or two immersions their clothes become muddy. Of course they wash them, but they still look muddy, and that is what they wear to and from the river. Well, there was this woman going home straight, serene, all the peace of the world in her face. How often I remember that face! She didn’t say anything to me. I just saw her as she was going along. There were many other people also, but what a person! If you could have the peace of God in your face, one sight of you will remain a bright memory in someone’s life. Life is, on all accounts, a sorry affair how many struggles, how many troubles come! What do you need to keep you strong under the pressure of circumstances? It is calmness and peace. If you have it yourself it is a great asset. If you do not have it, and you have seen another who has it, that memory will stand by you like a strong friend.
Just imagine this! You can gain that peace if you practise meditation methodically and regularly and if you do it rightly and without hurry. Yes, at the beginning there are many contrary things within us. Don’t become unnerved by that. Slowly work on and you will find that all the wrong things have been rooted out or burned out; your mind has become calm and serene and joyful. You will find that whatever duties you have to do, whether you are in the world or outside it, you are able to do rightly. Why should not a person whose mind is calm and quiet, who has been somewhat purified of selfish desires and wickedness why should he not do everything most wonderfully well?