Harry Terhanian.com Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • Lust, anger and greed are the three gates leading to hell

    geerkod tzahngoutioun, paghgoutioun yehv ahkayoutioun tuhzoghkee yehrek tourehr yehn

    Once, a husband and wife had a quarrel. It started when the husband told his wife he was thinking of buying a cow so he could milk it. He desired to benefit from the medicinal qualities of fresh milk directly from a grass and grain-fed cow. His wife said she would purchase three clay pots for the milk. The husband asked why three clay pots and not one.

    His wife explained that she would get one pot for their home use, another pot to deliver fresh milk to her mother and the third for her brother. The husband objected that he did not want her family members profiting from his cow’s milk. The argument became very heated. The wife became so exasperated that she threw a vase at her husband who ducked and the clay vase flew over the husband’s head and out the front door. It crashed and broke into many pieces outside the house. Their immediate neighbor heard the loud argument. He became alarmed when the vase broke and came running.

    On entering the house, he asked. “what is the matter?” After hearing their divergent points of view, He rushed out of the house and returned with a large stick. He menacingly swung the stick in the air as if to strike the arguing couple. They both recoiled and demanded why he was threatening to strike them. He explained. “The cow you are going to buy will eat the cabbages I am going to plant in my garden. Therefore, I shall beat both of you for letting it enter my garden.

    The husband and wife realized the futility of fighting for something that has not occurred. They looked at each other and then began to laugh. The neighbor threw the stick away and laughed heartily along with them.

    The argument that nearly resulted in physical violence seriously disturbed the minds of the husband and wife. They had disputes before, but this one was so intense and bitter that it could have resulted in serious injury. After they calmed down, the two decided to pay a visit to their village elder who was a very wise man. His name was Baron Sirounian. The villagers affectionately called him Sourp Siroun (saint sweet).He was a gentle and learned man of 94 years old who outlived his wife and even some of his children.

    The couple brought dried fruits and nuts as a gift for Sourp Siroun. He greeted them in his humble cottage. He offered them a place to sit and inquired about their well-being. They thanked him and revealed the purpose of their visit. They had quarreled over a hypothetical trifle and it escaladed to near violence. He looked deep into their eyes and said, “Let us take a walk down to the edge of the lake.” On reaching the bank of the lake, Sourp Siroun asked the couple to note the calmness and serenity of the lake. Ducks were floating quietly in the lake. A few birds were perched on a nearby tree branch. There were soft croaking sounds of frogs in the tall grass growing in the shallow water of the lake and on the its bank.

    Sourp Siroun requested the husband to pick up a pebble and throw it into the water. When the husband threw the pebble into the placid waters of the lake, the ducks took to flight as did the birds and the frogs stopped croaking.

    Sourp Siroun asked him, “What do you see?”

    The husband replied, “I see concentric circles rippling from the point where the pebble entered the lake.”

    “My son,” said Sourp Siroun, “Your throwing the pebble has caused many effects such as the concentric ripples agitating the calm waters, the ducks in the lake and birds on the branches of the tree were frightened away and the frogs went deeper into the lake water for safety. Perhaps the fish under the surface of the lake were also frightened to dart away from the pebble. You have caused multiple changes by one single act.

    The husband nodded his head in agreement.

    Sourp Siroun said, “Can you stop the ripples, bring back the ducks, birds, and frogs?”

    “I don’t think so,” said the husband. “If I try to stop the ripples by putting my hand in the water, it will only create more ripples.”

    “Yes, my son, now you are speaking wisely. When we make a mistake that impacts the lives of others, we must learn to stop as soon as possible to limit the damage we have done. Further, we must learn from our mistake by analyzing the cause, develop the self-restraint not to do it again and, most importantly, apologize to those who we may have offended or hurt and ask for their forgiveness and undergo any punishment or penance in rectification. Without acknowledging our mistake, we risk repeating it over and over again.”

    “We Armenians have a stubborn streak.” continued Sourp Siroun. “We do not like to admit a mistake nor accept rectification. The word for stubbornness in Armenian is hamahroutioun. A stubborn person is referred to as ahndegheedalee or one who refuses to give place. This stubbornness may be good if we adhere to the path of goodness and virtue. But, it can be disastrous if we stubbornly continue on a wrong path.”

    “Therefore, the mind absorbed or attached to sense objects is the cause of bondage to material consequences resulting from rash acts whose corollary effects were not carefully considered before the act. But the mind detached from sense objects is the cause of freedom from unwanted consequences. False attachment in the mind to sense objects even if theoretical as in your case of the cow and its milk became the cause of violent acts. The uncontrolled mind is the greatest enemy of man, and the controlled mind, the best of friends. As long as we cannot control the mind, we serve the dictations of lust, anger, greed, illusion, envy and the resultant madness or insane activity. The uncontrolled mind is dictated to by lust, anger, etc. But, the controlled mind accepts to voluntarily abide by the dictation of God’s word.”

    “We should have the equilibrium of mind to not throw the pebble in the lake, or more precisely, say unworthy and hurtful words that may begin interminable arguments and potentially lead to violence.”

    Both the husband and wife asked, “Oh reverend Sourp Siroun, how can we know what God’s dictation is in specific circumstances?”

    “That is a very good question. Asking questions and listening carefully to the answers is a valuable quality. We say in Armenian, Hahrtznohghuh guhlah kidtzoghuh, The one who asks questions, is the one who will understand. Serious inquiries directed respectfully to an elder will lead to receiving answers. The knowledge imparted to you will save much time and trouble. Humility, respect, offering service and asking important questions creates the right atmosphere for a fruitful exchange of questions and answers.”
    .
    “It is also said in Armenian, Hahrtznehluh ahmoht chuhlah, chuhhahskuhnahluh ahmoht eh,– “Asking is not shameful, not understanding the answer or not following the advice is.”

    “God’s instructions or dictation to us is revealed to us as we become purified of lust greed and anger. When these negative attitudes and behavior subside, we begin to understand God’s messages in the Holy Scriptures. Our appreciation of the example of saintly people increases. We actively seek out the association of godly persons and listen carefully to their explanations of spiritual topics. We engage wholeheartedly in the service of God and His other servants.”

    “It is very difficult to understand the transcendental nature of God through materially contaminated senses. Only by engaging the senses and mind in the service of God can we develop the right mindset to receive the instructions of God. Mundane scholarship and mental speculation will not help one advance on the path of God realization. One must associate with a genuine servant of God to become one oneself. The symptom of a self-realized person is that he or she is satisfied by rendering service with a pure heart for the pleasure of God without any hankering for wealth, prestige, power, fame, knowledge, etc. Such a person is steadily engaged in service uninterruptedly regardless if the surrounding material conditions are favorable or unfavorable. Thus, one gradually develops unadulterated love for God and understanding by revelation. Spiritual knowledge is revealed to the sincere follower progressively as we surrender to the will of God.”

    “Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment was. His answer is recorded in Matthew 22:37-40:

    Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38. This is the first and great commandment. 39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. 40. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

    “Such pure love is devoid of the desire to satisfy one’s own sense gratification. The material desires are dovetailed to spiritual aspirations by using all one’s resources to please the transcendental senses of God. The spiritual teacher who provides instructions to a sincere soul to rise to the platform of pure service and devotion to God becomes the spiritual mentor of the seeker. Through the guidance of the mentor, God reveals specific instructions how the seeker should act in specific instances. Even if the seeker has a strong premonition that God has given him a direct instruction, he should still confirm it with his mentor.”

    “Choosing a sincere and qualified mentor is of utmost importance. The following symptoms are useful to know. The mentor is affiliated with a bona fide spiritual lineage coming from God. He lives exactly according to the precepts he teaches. What he teaches is exactly the words of God in the scriptures without addition or subtraction. He manifests the six symptoms of surrender to the will of God. He accepts everything favorable for the service of God and rejects everything unfavorable. He considers God his only protector. He accepts everything that happens to him as the mercy of God. He has no other interests outside of service to God and he remains always humble and meek in the execution of service. Further, he never claims to be God himself, nor does he let any of his students say such a thing.”

    The husband and wife were thrilled by the saintly man’s answers. They bowed their heads and asked if they could kiss his hand. Sourp Siroun concluded with the following words. “My dear children, by practicing constant control of the body, mind and activities, the sincere aspirant can keep his mind always under the control of spiritual wisdom. Thus, he can attain real peace and spiritual fulfillment in this world and ultimately enter the kingdom of God.”

    Published on January 8, 2012 · Filed under: , Anger;
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