Be Like The Pearl Oyster
There is a pretty Indian fable to the effect that if it rains when the star Svati is in the ascendant, and a drop of rain falls into an oyster, that drop becomes a pearl. The oysters know this; so they come to the surface when that star appears, and wait to catch the precious raindrops. When the drops fall into them, quickly the oysters close their shells and dive down to the bottom of the sea, there patiently to develop the raindrops into pearls. You should be like that. First hear, then understand, and then, leaving all distractions, shut your minds to outside influences and devote yourselves to developing the truth within you. There is a danger of frittering away your energies by taking up an idea only for its novelty and then giving it up for another that is newer. Take one thing up and follow it, and see the end of it, and before you have seen the end, do not give it up. He who can become mad with an idea, he alone sees the light. Those who only take a nibble here and a nibble there will never attain anything. They may titillate their nerves for a moment, but there it will end. They will be slaves in the hands of nature and will never go beyond the senses.
Those who really want to be yogis must give up, once for all, this nibbling at things. Take up one idea; make that one idea your life. Think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave all other ideas alone. This is the way to success and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced. Others are mere talking-machines. If we really want to be blessed and make others blessed, we must go deeper.
The first step is not to disturb the mind, not to associate with persons whose ideas are disturbing. All of you know that certain persons, certain places, certain foods, repel you. Avoid them; and those who want to realize the highest must avoid all company, good or bad. Practice hard; whether you live or die does not matter. You have to plunge in and work without thinking of the result. If you are brave enough, in six months you will be a perfect yogi. But those who take up just a bit of it and a little of everything else make no progress. It is of no use simply to take a course of lessons. To those who are full of tamas, ignorant and dull— those whose minds never get fixed on any idea, who only crave for something to amuse them— religion and philosophy are simply objects of entertainment. These are the unpersevering. They hear a talk, think if very nice, and then go home and forget all about it. To succeed you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. “I will drink the ocean,” says the persevering soul, “and at my will mountains will crumble.” Have that sort of energy, that sort of will, work hard, and you will reach the goal.
- Vivekananda, “Raja Yoga”