In an ancient dialogue recorded in the Mahabharata, King Yuddhistira is asked a wonderful question: What does one have to give up to become loved by everyone? What does one have to renounce to become free of all distress?
He replies – giving up envy, one becomes loved by everyone, and by renouncing anger, one becomes free of all distress. The same teachings are echoed by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who teaches “one must become more humble than a blade of grass, and more tolerant than a tree”. This is real character. Replace envy with humility, and overcome anger with tolerance.
As i expressed these thoughts in a lecture last sunday at the temple, it left a deep impression on me. People were attentive, seemed receptive to the philosophy, and even laughed at my jokes (atleast some of them :). Still, i came out feeling a deep dissatisfaction. I couldnt pinpoint the reason, but after sometime it became apparent. I was speaking of humility and tolerance but fall significantly short of imbibing such qualities in my own character. Do i want to be the stereotyped religious hypocrite, or should i start developing real character? Spiritual practice is not enough – it must run parrallel with saintly character and qualities.