The Four Foundations of the Mind

Once, a disciple asked his Gurudev, “Maharaj, what is the easiest way to gain peace of mind?”

Gurudev says, “I will summarize it for you. Forgiveness, satisfaction, greed and compassion are the four foundations.”

Disciple says, “What does this mean?”

Gurudev says, “One needs great patience and courage to forgive everyone. One must be prepared to tolerate insults, undergo physical pain and mental torture. This is a form of rigorous penance. There is no other happiness like satisfaction. There is no other disease than too much greed. Last but the most important is compassion. There is no other dharma than compassion.”

Disciple says, “How is this?”

Gurudev says, “Dear child, each one of these foundations is linked to and dependent on one another.”

Disciple says, “Could you please explain this to me?”

Gurudev says, “If one is not greedy for worldly desires, he will naturally be content and satisfied. Once he is content and satisfied, he will have compassion for all. In other words, he will be compassionate towards those who are less fortunate. He will share whatever he has and through this, he follows his natural dharma. Now, while doing this, if he faces any form of negativity, he is forgiving towards all. Through forgiveness, he is doing penance.”

Disciple says, “Please give us an example.”

Gurudev says, “Alright, I will tell you a story. Once a king felt compassionate towards a poor man. He told the man that by evening, whatever distance he covers on land will be given to him as a gift.

Gurudev continued, “The man was elated. Keep in mind that the man was also very greedy. He thought, ‘If I run, I will cover more distance and thus get more land.’ His mind was now overpowered by greed and he began running.”

Disciple says, “Oh good! He must have received a lot of land.”

Gurudev says, “O child! There is a saying, ‘Avoid extreme’. He ran, but by evening, he was completely exhausted. He couldn’t carry on any further, so he sat down under a tree. The king’s attendants came to him and made a note of the distance he had covered. However, now the man began rethinking. He rationalized, ‘I will receive so much land. But I will have to take a lot of effort to reap a good crop. Then I must ensure that the crop is properly taken care of. This will also require a lot of effort. I will also have to take efforts to protect it. All this is very laborious. How much land do I need for my mental and physical comfort? It is only 6 ft x 3 ft’.”
Disciple says, “Then what happened? Did the man return the land that he received?”

Gurudev says, “Try and understand the moral of the story. The moral is that if one wants peace, then one must overcome his greed. To achieve this, spiritual practice is the only way.”

Disciple says, “What does this mean?”

Gurudev says, “This means, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Focus your attention on your breath. The mind will begin to calm down slowly and you will experience joy and peace.”