Mind is the center of all the happenings and disturbances in the life. If the mind and senses are controlled then liberation can be achieved easily. A person cannot have self realization by Vedic rites, uttering mantras, reading scriptures or by any other means. Only when a person realizes that his true nature is not different from Brahman, he is a self realized person. There are many paths which lead a man to self realization. Meditation is one among them. The five senses and the mind always becomes an obstacle for all persons to reach the goal of self realization. Mind uses the five senses to gather information from the external world. When the five senses are shut, mind becomes totally detached from the external world. When the mind understands about the senses, the mind will not be deluded and it will have the power to overcome the senses. Senses represent the different aspects of the mind. Senses do not exist independent of the mind. The more the intellect the more it disturbs the mind. All the individuals have the power to attain self realization, but many do not use it. Self realization is the state of abiding in intelligence. According to Vedanta philosophy, when an individual soul merges with Nirguna Brahman( Brahman without attributes), he is beyond thought and mind; when he is Saguna Brahnman ( Brahman with attributes), he has mind and he thinks. When the mind realizes that it rests in infinity then no obstacle can disturb it.
When the senses are directed outwards, worldly pleasure affects the human beings. Mind which is not dependent on the senses is a stable mind. Nature is a great classroom from which we can learn many lessons to lead a perfect life. It was Sage Dattatreya, who explained this concept to the world by himself mentally accepting twenty four gurus from nature. Sage Dattatreya was a well renowned and an erudite sage of ancient India. In Srimad Baghavad, he explains about the lessons he derived from the way of life of the twenty four beings from nature that he consider as his Guru. These lessons helped the Sage to evolve as a perfect person and chisel his life as a blazing spiritual power. He learnt many lessons to do and not to do from the characteristic traits of the twenty four Gurus. Sage Dattatreya had a stable unwavering mind which is not common among the worldly people. When we care too much for the senses, our knowledge will be destroyed, the mind and speech will fritter away. Sage Dattatreya’s twenty four gurus are the earth, air, sky, water, fire, sun, moon, pigeon, python, ocean, moth, elephant, honey-bee, honey gatherer, deer, fish, pingala the courtesan, child, osprey, maiden, arrow-smith, spider, snake, wasp.
1. Forbearance is one of the fine quality which is missing in people today. Forbearance should come with responsibility. When we lack the quality of forbearance, we are not qualified to occupy a responsible position. Sometimes others life may overlap or affect our own life. A man of steady intellect will not waver from his own path. A person of controlled mind does not get disturbed by the external disturbances. The sage learnt the lesson of forbearance from the earth, which accepts everything with patience and forbearance. He also learnt the art of being useful to others from the nature of the tree.
2. A person with steady intellect should not be carried away by the influences of the other people. He must be detached from the external influences. Then only he will be able to take decisions in the most dharmic way. This is the lesson the Sage learnt from air, which remains unaffected by the good and bad odour of things over which it blows. The air is always pure. A person has to move amid people of diverse characters, but his mind must be absolutely free from their virtues and short comings.
3. Time brings a lot of change in man and his surroundings. Just like the sky which is not disturbed by the rain, thunder, storm or even by the explosion of the galaxies, a stable man should not be affected by the incidents in his life. This lesson the Sage learnt from the sky.
4. A person of pure intellect exercises a sanctifying influence on others. Their pure and serene nature helps us to purify ourselves. When we approach some people we feel comfortable and relaxed. This is the lesson the Sage learnt from the water, which purifies any kind of impurity.
5. A man of self control is not polluted at any time or under any circumstances. He remains unpolluted like the all consuming fire which is not polluted by the material it consumes. This is the lesson the Sage derived from the fire.
6. The waning and the waxing of the moon taught the Sage that nothing in this world is permanent. The good and bad times fade away like the digits of the moon. In spite of the creation and destruction, only Atma remains permanent. The Atma takes the body, keep it for some time, then sheds it, then again takes a new body and so on. Everything is a passing phase.
7. The lesson taught by the sun is that, the sun illumines millions of objects. Just like that, a person of controlled mind can illumine and show the path for many people. Many people will be benefited by a single person of pure intellect.
8. Another wonderful lesson the Sage learnt is from the pigeon. The Sage learnt about the negative side of the undying affection and attachment. He explains it with a story. Once there lived a pigeon which had undying attachment and affection towards its family. One day the little pigeons were caught by a fowler; by seeing this, unable to bear the pain, the female pigeon fell into the net by itself. Then seeing the whole family in trouble, the male pigeon also voluntarily fell into the net. The fowler had a nice catch. Undying attraction and affection towards the family destroyed the whole family. This problem exists very commonly in the present time. Some families unable to bear the pain, loss or failure of a single person in the family, the other members of the family also become a victim to that pain and failure. Instead of supporting the person in pain, the whole family becomes a victim. Intense love or attachment to anyone will result in excruciating suffering and pain. A miserable family man with uncontrolled senses comes to grief together with his belongings.
9. Over enjoyment of the senses will definitely lead a person to misery. A man of controlled mind and senses will not exert himself too much for food or other enjoyments. He just eats to live. He concentrates more on his duty and leaves the results and other benefits to follow him. He will not go after the benefits rather he takes what he gets. A Self controlled person is well aware of the fact that rewards are brought by destiny. This lesson is learned from the python which just takes in what comes its way. It will not exert much pressure to go and collect its food.
10. An ocean never gets dried up or overflow by the quantity of the water that comes to it. It is the nature of the ocean to maintain its water level. The ocean never overflows or dries up. Just like that a stable intelligent person will be placid and profound. A person must be able to maintain his calmness in abundance of joy and in tragedy. The lesson the Sage learnt from the ocean.
11. An intelligent self controlled man will not become a prey for gold, women or any other objects of enjoyment. The Sage learnt this lesson from the moth. The moth is unaware of the danger of the fire; it goes to the fire thinking that it is a bright light. A man of uncontrolled senses fails to discriminate.
12. In the modern world and in the ancient times, women are used as a trap to extract money, position, status, and what more, even to extract a person’s life. The Sage learnt this lesson from the elephant which falls in the trap of men, who uses the she-elephant as a trap. Just for the attachment for the sense of touch, the elephant goes after the she-elephant and finally the she-elephant will escape, but the elephant will live its entire life in captivity and misery. A wise person will always overcome the attraction towards the opposite gender.
13. An intelligent self controlled person should take the essence out of all sources, from the scriptures, from the people they meet, from situations they face etc. This keen observation will definitely make a person wise. This lesson the Sage learnt from the honeybee which extracts honey from all the flowers they sit on.
14. Everyone needs wealth to survive but when it exceeds a limit, the wealth itself will become a factor for our own destruction. The Sage learnt this lesson from the honey gatherer. The honey gatherer destroys the bee hive and drives away the honey bees to extract honey. The wealth accumulated by a miser without himself enjoying or making charitable gifts is knocked away by someone who knows about it, just as the honey gatherer. In the modern world, people are killed or disturbed cruelly to snatch their hard earned wealth. Poet Bhartrihari says that wealth must be either given away in charity or utilized personally, else it will fill the pockets of the robbers!
15. A wise man should not be a slave to the vulgar music, lest he will thereby get entangled. This lesson is learnt by the Sage from the deer, which is captured through the hunter’s imitative cry of the doe. Music is a very powerful medium which entangles the mind in it. Divine music calms the mind; vulgar music deludes the mind.
16. Behind every sense pleasure there lurks a reaction. Men perish through the attraction of the palate which causes intense excitement in the mind. The Sage learnt this lesson from the fish which is caught by its bait. Taste is a very powerful sense by which a man can be easily overpowered. When the organ of the taste is controlled, the other senses can be easily controlled.
17. Pingala was a courtesan, an ignorant woman of uncontrolled mind, who seek satisfaction from unworthy men looked upon them as lovers. She was greedy after money and waited for rich men whom she thought would satisfy her greediness. Soon she realized that her expectations are in vain and suddenly she felt an unattached feeling towards her body. She began to feel, that she gave much importance to the body which is filled with impurities, and she wasted the life by neglecting the Atman which is the source of happiness. From the courtesan’s life the Sage learnt that “expectation is the greatest misery, and giving up all expectation is the greatest bliss”. In the technological world, expectations cannot be avoided, but it is foolish to depend on expectations.
18. Honour and dishonour disturbs the mind of all people and only a Sage who has realized the Atma and a child are free from this expectation. A child is free and least cared about the honour and dishonour. The child is always immersed in supreme bliss because of this habit. The Sage learnt this lesson from the child.
19. When we have something to share and give (wealth and position), the whole world will be around us. Sometimes others may also disturb us for our possessions. This lesson the Sage learnt from the osprey which had a piece of meat and attacked by other powerful birds that had no meat. When the osprey dropped the piece of meat, the other birds were after the meat and left the osprey free. The world is always after the possessions.
20. If too many people live together, quarrel will be the result. If we are alone, we will have time and peace of mind to realize the Atma. This lesson the Sage learnt from a maiden who broke all the bangles she were wearing except one,to avoid the noise made by the bangles.
21. The Sage learnt the power of concentration from the arrow maker who was too busy making his arrows and did not even notice the procession of the king which is passing near his work place. A person must have the mind controlled within him. A person of great concentration will not know anything external or internal and is completely absorbed in his work. Such concentration power will definitely lead to success.
22. From the spider the Sage learnt the theory of evolution and dissolution. Just as the spider brings out its web from within itself through the mouth, sports in it for some time and then withdraws it into itself, so does the Supreme Being create, spread and withdraw the universe all by Himself. The universe is not different from Brahman.
23. If a person rests in a permanent resting place, he will be dependent on his surroundings. This curbs his independent nature. He may feel uncomfortable to adjust to new atmosphere and situations. He should always move out, instead of staying in the same place for a long time. Even though he may not have his own resting place at different places, he must feel comfortable to stay in the place of others, just like a snake which always stays in the place of other beings. This lesson the Sage learnt from the snake.
24. On whatever object a corporeal being may concentrate his whole mind, either through love or through hate or through fear, he attains the form of that very object. The wasp places the worm in a hole and continuously frightens it by its buzzing sound. The worm inside thinks and thinks of that wasp till it attains a form partly resembling that of the wasp. The personality and mentality changes according to the strong impressions in our mind, just like the worm which has strong impressions about the wasp. This lesson the Sage learned from the wasp.
We have to leave even this body behind, because it is not our own. Body is only used by the mind to gather experience and learn from its experiences. In due course the mind evolves to perfection. The mind evolves more and more and ultimately expands to infinity. An intelligent person understands about this journey and conducts his life according to the knowledge he has gathered in his lifetime by using this body. When we are ready to learn, the universe will become a teacher. In this modern technological world, these twenty four teachers from nature help us to evolve as a perfect person. These teachers elevate us from our present mental state. These teachers help us to control our mind. A soul takes the human form only after many births in various forms(bodies). A human form is very rare, it must be used in the most profitable way( i.e for self realization), else the greatness and the unique nature of the human form is wasted.