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Keep the Atma in View and Nothing can Harm You

Wisdom is seeing the one everywhere. That all-pervasive unity is the atma. Seek out this unity and keep it constantly in view. When all your actions are based on the atma, they become sacred and pure. When all your activities are performed for the sake of the atma or for the pleasure of God, then you become sanctified and filled with spiritual wisdom. A number of sages, right from ancient days, have made heroic efforts to attain this supreme state of being immersed in the highest wisdom.

Once upon a time, the King of Greece, Alexander, reached the banks of the great river on the north-western border of India. He intended to enter India, to conquer and plunder it. For this purpose he had come with a mighty army. In those days there were no royal roads; the few roads that existed were more like footpaths. The king crossed the banks of the river and entered the forest with his army. The scouts preceding the army found a yogi lying under a tree, with his legs spread out across the path, deep in sleep. This yogi had attained the stage of enlightenment; he was a truly wise man.

One soldier went up and awakened the yogi and commanded him to move out of the path. But the yogi was totally indifferent to the orders given by the soldier. He did not move. The Greek soldier started threatening the yogi and boasted that the great emperor of Greece, Alexander, was coming with his army and that this emperor had decided to invade India and plunder the entire nation.

While the soldier was shouting at this yogi, Alexander arrived on the scene. The Greek soldier was enraged to see that even after the emperor had come, this yogi remained completely unconcerned. The yogi was not paying the proper respect and courtesy due to the emperor. At this, the soldier threatened to cut off the yogi's head. The moment the yogi heard that the enraged Greek soldier wanted to cut off his head, he started laughing and stood up. On the yogi's face there was no trace of fear. He was amused, but at the same time he remained completely serene. The emperor saw the great effulgence on the yogi's face and spoke to him. "My soldier has just threatened to cut off your head and yet you seem very happy and unaffected. If you were an ordinary person you would immediately fall at his feet, beg for pardon and try to save your life. But you are only smiling. What is the meaning of your behavior?"

The yogi replied, "I am the eternal truth. I am pure awareness. I am infinite bliss. I am forever free. Your weapons cannot harm me. Fire cannot burn me. Water cannot wet me. Wind cannot blow me away. I was never born and I will never die. I am the immortal atma, the one true self. I am indestructible. Thinking that I am just this body, your soldier is threatening to destroy me by cutting the head off this body. Isn't that ludicrous? Hearing this provoked me to laughter."

When the emperor heard these words he was astounded. He thought to himself, 'It is natural for people to get frightened when someone threatens to kill them and they are about to face death, but rarely will anyone laugh and be so happy when they are about to die. In India there are people who have attained such a high spiritual state that they are not even afraid of death. How can I conquer a nation such as this? No, I won't succeed here with my weapons.' Having concluded that India could not be subdued by him, he turned his army around and penetrated no further into India.