Guiding Light of The Month

OH, let Light be poured on all the earth and Peace inhabit every heart. . . Almost all know only the material life heavy, inert, conservative, obscure; their vital forces are so tied to this physical form of existence that, even when left to themselves and outside the body, they are still solely occupied with these material contingencies that are yet so harassing and painful. . . - The Mother

True Sincerity – A Jewel of Honour

Stories by the Mother on Sincerity

A Muslim writer, Abu Abbas, tells us of the glory of King Solomon, who reigned in Jerusalem, the holy city of the Hebrews. In his throne room there were six hundred seats, half of which were occupied by sages, the other half by Jinns or genies who assisted Solomon by their magic power. Throughout the sittings of the Council, a multitude of great birds would appear at a word from the king and spread their wings to shade the people in the six hundred seats. And at his command, each morning and evening, a powerful wind would arise, lifting up the whole palace and instantaneously transporting it a month’s journey away. In this way, the king was at hand to govern the distant lands that belonged to him. Besides, Solomon made the most marvellous throne one could ever dream of. And this throne was designed in such a way that no one would dare to utter an untruth in the presence of the king. It was made of ivory, inlaid with pearls, emeralds and rubies, and around it stood four golden date-palms on which the dates were also emeralds and rubies. At the top of two of these palms were golden peacocks, and on the two others were golden vultures. On each side of the throne there were also two golden lions between two pillars of emerald. And golden vines bearing ruby grapes twined around the trunks of the trees.

The elders of Israel were seated at Solomon’s right hand and their seats were of gold, the genies sat at his left hand and their seats were of silver. When the king held his court of justice the people were allowed into his presence. And each time that a man bore witness on another, if he deviated ever so little from the truth, an amazing thing would happen. At the sight of him, the throne bearing the king, the lions, the palm-trees, the peacocks and the vultures, would instantly turn round on itself. Then the lions would thrust forward their claws, lashing the ground with their tails; the vultures and the peacocks would flap their wings.

And so the witnesses would tremble with terror and would not dare to tell a single lie. And this was no doubt very convenient, and must have considerably lightened the king’s task. But fear is always a wretched thing, which consorts ill with truth. Even when by chance, as in the story of Abu Abbas, it forces a man to speak the truth, that does not make him truthful; for, at the very next moment, fear may drive him to speak without frankness, as did the fox in our previous tale. And that is what most often happens. An honest man does not need the marvels of Solomon’s throne to learn to speak the truth. The throne of truth dwells within his own heart; the rectitude of his soul cannot but inspire him with words of rectitude. He speaks the truth not because he is afraid of a teacher, a master or a judge, but because truth is the characteristic of an upright man, the stamp of his nature. Love of truth makes him face all fears. He speaks as he should, no matter what happens to him.

Is it not noble to speak the truth in this way, even when there is some danger in doing it? Besides, very often, things turn out better for those who brave this danger than it might have seemed at first. The success of falsehood is only short-lived, whereas in most cases, to be sincere is the cleverest thing to do.

One morning, the Emperor of Delhi sat on his throne to confer honours on those he considered worthy. As the ceremony was drawing to a close, he noticed that one of the people he had summoned, a young man named Syed Ahmed, had not yet made his appearance.

The Emperor stepped down from his throne and got into a sedan chair which was used to carry him through his vast palace.
Just at that moment the young man hurried in.
“Your son is late,” said the Emperor to Syed’s father, who was his friend.
“Why?” asked the Emperor, looking sternly at the young man.
“Sire,” Syed replied frankly, “it is because I overslept.”
The courtiers looked at the young man in amazement. How dare he admit so shamelessly to the Emperor that he had no better excuse? How tactless of him to speak like that!

But the Emperor, after pondering a moment, felt respect for the young man because of his sincerity; and he gave him the necklace of pearls and the jewel of honour to place on his brow. Such was the reward of Syed Ahmed, who loved the truth and spoke it to all, prince or peasant.

There is a legend in South India which tells of a prince, the Jasmine King, whose laugh alone would fill the land for leagues around with the sweet fragrance of jasmine. But for that his laugh must come from the joyful and spontaneous gaiety of his heart. It would have been no use if he had tried to laugh without true merriment. When his spirit was full of joy, his laughter would bubble up like a fragrant spring. The quality of this laughter came wholly from its sincerity.

The tables in Duryodhana’s palace were laid with an extremely rich display of vessels of gold and silver, ornamented with rubies and emeralds and diamonds sparkling with many colours. Lord Krishna was invited to the feast but did not go. Instead he went that night to the house of a poor Sudra, who had also invited him. The meal was simple, the dishes were plain.  And yet Krishna chose this one in preference to the other, for the feast which the Sudra offered him was full of sincere love, whereas the sumptuous banquet of King Duryodhana had been given only for show.

It is also said that the glorious Rama once sat at the table of a very humble woman, whose husband was a fowler. All she could put before the famous hero was a few fruits, for she had nothing else. But she gave the best she had with such a good heart that Rama was touched and wished that the memory of this gift from a sincere soul should not be forgotten, and that is why it is still spoken of after so many centuries.

Jalal was a wise and famous teacher. One day two Turks who wished to hear his teachings came to see him with an offering. As they were very poor, their gift was small—only a handful of lentils. Some of the sage’s disciples looked at this present with scorn. But Jalal told them: “Once the Prophet Mohammed needed riches to carry out one of his undertakings. So he asked his followers to give him what they could spare. Some brought half of their possessions, others a third. Abu Bakar gave all his wealth. In this way Mohammed got a large quantity of animals and weapons. Then came a poor woman who in her turn offered the Prophet three dates and a wheat-cake; and that was all she had. Many smiled at this sight, but the Prophet told them that he had had a dream in which he had seen the angels take a pair of scales and put the gifts of all the people in one of the pans and into the other only the dates and the bread of the poor woman. And the scale stood balanced, for this pan was as heavy as the other.” And Jalal added: “A small gift offered with a sincere heart has as much value as costly presents.” On hearing this the two Turks were full of joy and no one dared laugh any more about the handful of lentils.

(CWM, Volume 2, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

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