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Be Steady in your Practice

A housewife attended a series of meetings at which a spiritual teacher was expounding the scriptures. She was concentrating and listening with great attention to everything that was being said. One day, the speaker recounted the story of Rama and Sita, and in that connection declared that for a wife, the husband was the only goal in life. He said, "It is the responsibility of the wife to satisfy her husband and make him happy. Always treat the husband as God." The housewife after hearing all this went back home. She was so impressed by this discourse that she resolved to put into practice immediately all that she had learned. As soon as the husband returned home for his midday meal, she took a container of water and poured it over his feet, thinking that she was worshipfully serving her husband thereby. The husband was confused and flabbergasted. He entered the house and sat down to dry his feet, but before he could do so she insisted on doing it for him.

After seeing all this, the husband went into his office and rang up the doctor. Her husband did not know that his wife had been attending the discourses. The doctor came and decided to give her some sleeping pills. He said that it looked like an attack of hysteria, but after a rest of one or two days she probably would be all right. The husband ate his meal and told his wife to go and have some rest; then he went to his office. His wife went right back again to the meeting to hear the next lecture. That afternoon the speaker was explaining the delusory relationship which exists between husband and wife. He said, "Who is husband? Who is wife? Nothing is permanent. All these things are just temporary and transient. In truth nothing exists." Then he added, "God alone is true. He is the only real truth." The housewife went back home and sat in her shrine room.

That evening the husband came back from his office half an hour early, thinking that his wife may not be well and perhaps he could help her in some way. He knocked on the house door and asked her to kindly open it. From the shrine room she answered, "There is no mother, there is no father, there is no house, there is nothing, not even a husband." He was quite alarmed by this behavior, but somehow he got her to open the door. When he came into the house he went straight to the telephone and called the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist came and examined her in detail. He gave his diagnosis. He said that after all this listening to these discourses she had developed some peculiar attitudes; but if she could be kept at home she would soon get over them. All arrangements were made to keep her from going to the lectures. Everyone was informed. The driver as well as every servant of the house was told not to let her go there.

After these restrictions had been put on her by doctor's orders, she did not go to the lecture for two days and she started behaving in a normal way again. So the detachment she had developed was only temporary and superficial. It did not last. Now the husband was happy. The normal daily routine resumed. After a week this lady went again to the place where the lectures were being given. On that particular day the speaker was expounding the teachings of the Gita. He explained that whenever one uses words one should tell the truth and one should not tell it in a compromising way. She heard this and returned home. Her husband told her that there was a marriage reception that day, and asked her to join him. She got ready and went there with her husband.

The marriage ceremony started. There was a tradition in those parts which calls for the auspicious necklace that is worn by the bride to be taken to every elder, who then touches it and blesses it. The father of the bride came to this lady, recognized her and asked her, "How is your mother? Is everything all right?" These questions were a matter of courtesy, exchanging a few words with her while he held out the sacred necklace, asking her to touch it and bless it. She answered, "My mother is doing fine. She is quite all right, but you know, a week ago my mother-in law died quite suddenly and her body was taken to the cremation ground the following day."

The neighbor who was sitting next to her told her, "Why did you have to say such an inauspicious thing while touching and blessing this necklace, which is meant to impart a long and happy life to the new bride and her future family?" The housewife replied, "Should I tell a lie just for the sake of this necklace? No, I will never tell a lie. It is a fact that my mother-in-law died last week and that the body was cremated the next day." One intelligent young lady sitting nearby told her, "Mother, certainly you should speak the truth, but you should also be aware of the circumstances and think through what is appropriate before you say anything."