XXVIII - Page 279 Home | Index | Previous | Next

Through Effort Humans can Transform their Lower Nature

The sage addressed the gathering, "Dear animals. All that you have just spoken of is true. Whenever a spiritual teacher does something or says something to us, it is meant for our own good. It is intended to promote our inner development and also our friendship and good understanding with others. But as soon as this friendship flowers and understanding blossoms forth, human beings become suspicious and think that something bad is being done to them. To your face, they will offer salutations and use words of praise but behind your back they will criticize and revile you. Filling themselves with opposites like that and with low forms of cleverness, they waste their intelligence and their lives. All the defects that have been pointed out here are certainly true and present in humans. As for food, sleep, breathing and such things, there is absolutely no difference between humans and animals."

The sage continued, "I do want to point out, however, that there is one specialty in human beings that is unique, in which they cannot be compared with the animals. Animals may inherit a streak of cruelty. Once they have acquired that they cannot change it. A tiger, however hungry he may be, will not eat rice and curry. He only aspires to have mutton. He will not settle for just a little tea and biscuits. However much he may try to change his habits, he will not succeed. On the other hand, if sufficient efforts are made by humans, they can transform their cruel nature and any of their bad habits. The most important difference between humans and animals is that humans, with effort, can bring about a complete transformation in themselves, whereas animals will not be able to accomplish that. These special capacities and skills for transforming themselves are only available to human beings."

The fox got up and said, "Swami, we will concede that human beings have these special capacities for changing themselves, but if they do not make use of these capacities, do they deserve the high status that they now enjoy?" The president declared, "If anyone has the capacity to change himself but does not use it, then he is much worse than an animal." At this all the animals burst into an uproarious applause. The cheering went on and on until the president gaveled for order. The sage then repeated the principal point he had just made... that any human beings who had the capacity for doing good, but who did not use this quality to improve their own behavior and develop the good within themselves, were, without a doubt, worse than animals. Then the sage added, "What is the use of all the learning that human beings accumulate? Will it change their faith? As soon as bad thoughts enter their heads, their thinking becomes dull and they become like idiots. In learning and skills, humans have attained a high status. But all this learning is only for the sake of procuring some bread. They use their education only to fill their bellies and to eke out a livelihood."

At this point, the fox got up and added to what the president had just said, "In the process of eking out their livelihood, humans use all kinds of unethical means. In this respect, it is clear that we animals are much better than human beings." The fox got carried away by his own rhetoric. He continued for some time on the same theme. "We are always fair in gaining our livelihood. In all respects, when compared to humans, we are far better. Really, we are the BEST!" He got an exuberant, almost riotous ovation from the whole four footed assembly. Everyone agreed whole-heartedly with this appraisal and urged the fox on to say more. But now the enthusiasm had exceeded its limits and the president pounded the gavel and called for order. The sage arose and made a few additional remarks. He explained the second major difference that make human beings unique. He said, "Man has been able to conquer maya, he has been able to master illusion. Once he has achieved that, he is able to experience the atma, his own true divine self. Then he can reach the state of nirvana, the exalted state of eternal bliss. This is a vital difference between humans and animals.