The great Rishis of India were invited to a conference at Rama’s court in Ayodhya for the occassion of blessing the pregnancy of Sita. This is the dialogue that took place.
Vashishta said to Ram, “Remove all egotism from your mind, and open the doors of humility. Open up the reservoir of your heart, place it beside the lotus feet of these respected examples of pure knowledge, and receive the teachings of wisdom and devotion and the knowledge of non-duality.”
Ram said, “It is said that the gift of wisdom is the greatest gift that can be bestowed. I have very limited knowledge, and you all are repositories of great learning. Please show me your grace, and whatever wisdom you think that I’m worthy of receiving, please share that with me. My ears are ever so much desiring to drink the nectar of your words.”
Agastya Muni said, “Experience Truth for yourself and don’t rely only upon the experiences of others. Truth has only one reference for verification – personal experience. If a teacher says ‘I have seen, but you cannot see,’ please do not accept such a one as a guru. He who says, ‘I have seen, and now I shall show you how you may see.’ You should make such a one your guru. You can trust in him or her.
“The ignorant is like he who is sitting beside a mountain of gold, yet still remains a beggar. He who has met his guru and has opened his heart, allows the guru to show him how to see. He is a man of wisdom.
“When a soul rises into the atmosphere it can see for a great distance. Just as when one rises to the top of a high place and looks down upon the scenery, even the greatest and tallest of mountains appears to be small from the perspective of height. When the soul looks down from the heights of Self-Realization and sees all of life, it frees itself from attachment.
“The actions that one encounters in life appear to be very small, just as the mountains upon the earth. As high as the soul will rise, so great a distance can be perceived both before and after, the actions which will happen in the life of that soul. Just as from the heights of above, one can see that even beyond the most difficult of mountains lies a very beautiful valley. This is what we call a perceiver of the three times; a Trikaldarsi is one who knows the events of the past, present and future.”
Ram asked, “Please tell me according to the Vedas and other scriptures, what is the greatest dharma and what is the greatest evil.”
“Ahimsa – causing harm to none, is the greatest dharma, and the greatest evil is the hatred of others.”
“Please tell what is the greatest pain and what is the greatest pleasure?”
“Daridya – Mental affliction is the greatest pain, and Peace is the greatest pleasure. So the greatest pleasure is in meeting with saints, Satsangha. Just as the water from the Ganges River cleans both the inside and the outside of the body, in the same way, meeting with saintly beings gives peace both to the mind and to the soul.”
“Please tell me by what means is a saint known, and by what means is a pretender known.”
“A saint is always thinking for the welfare of others, whereas an unsaintly being is always thinking for his own personal gain or even of destroying others. The saintly being does good even to those who do him harm. Just like the sandlewood tree: if anyone cuts into the tree, even still, the tree gives forth its beautiful fragrence. The saintly being is always engaged in striving for the upliftment and welfare of everyone. An unsaintly being is known by his capacity to do harm to others and do harm even to himself in the process.”
“Learned Sirs, please tell the difference between Bhakti – Devotion, and Jnana – Wisdom.”
“Wisdom is like a light. Devotion is like a jewel. Both of them give forth light. When you understand either of them, darkness flees. In all four directions there is illumination. In order to make a light you need a container, some oil and a wick. But a gem or a jewel shines by it’s own effulgence. From the winds of desire, anger, greed and ignorance the flame of the light can be extinguished. But greed, anger, desire or ignorance can never extinguish the light of the jewel of Devotion. That jewel shines by the power of its own Self-effulgence. In this way, in whoever’s heart true devotion resides, no desire, no greed or other limitation can ever have an effect upon that heart.
“The enemy of Wisdom is ego. One can fall because of ego. The devotee is always humble; therefore, how can he fall? Wisdom is a man. Maya is a woman. Wisdom can be afflicted by the passions for Maya. Therefore he may fall. The man falls for the woman. But devotion is a woman. And devotion – a woman, can never fall for Maya, a woman. A woman rarely falls in love with another woman. Therefore, Maya has little or no power over devotion.”
“Please tell me what is the relationship between a devotee and a Jnani, someone who follows the path of Wisdom?”
“The attitude of a devotee is like the relationship between a mother and her small child. If the child were to grab hold of a snake, or in any situation of danger, the mother will always protect it. But when the child is bigger, a young man like the Jnani, she would think that the child could protect himself. The responsibility does not remain with the mother. Therefore, God will always protect a devotee who is like a small child. And like a grown young man, God will leave the Jnani to his own devices.”