A spiritual seeker once went to a Guru to clear a doubt. He had read that a spiritual aspirant should control his or her thoughts, and that one cannot attain the highest goal of Self-realization without removing the last trace of thoughts. This young man asked the Guru, “Is it true that a spiritual aspirant should try and control his or her thoughts?"

The Guru did not even look at him. He turned to his side picked up what looked like a seed and gave it to him. "Plant it,” he said simply. The seeker didn't know what to say. He stood with the seed in his hand, wondering if the Guru had heard him correctly. After some deliberation, he decided to do as the Guru instructed. He had read that the ways of the Masters are not always understandable, but that one should follow their instructions wholeheartedly.

He planted the seed in the sprawling ashram farm. He thought that by doing so, he would somehow get an answer to his question. He waited patiently. After many months, he found he was no wiser on the question of whether he should control his thoughts. He went back to the Guru.

"Excuse me, revered sir!” The Guru turned to look at him. Sure that he had the Guru's attention now, the young man said, enunciating his words carefully and clearly. “Must a spiritual aspirant strive to control his or her thoughts?” The Guru continued gazing at him for some time. And then turned to his side, fished out something from a bag and handed it over to him without a word. It was yet another seed! What was it with this Guru and his seeds? Not just that, what was the connection between his question and the darned seeds? Seeing the distant look in the Guru's eyes the seeker got up with a sigh. He went to another patch in the farm and planted the seed. He thought, “I need to contemplate. There must be a deeper significance to the Guru's response that I'm not getting.”

He returned a few months later, none the wiser. He went to the Guru and pleaded, “Please, Master, just tell me if it is important for a spiritual aspirant to control the number of thoughts?” The Guru smiled. But his hopes were dashed when he saw the Guru put his hand into the bag again. Why did the Guru always have the bag next to him whenever he came? “Yes, yes, I know. Go and plant the seed. That's what you want me to do, right?" the seeker muttered irately. The Guru merely nodded his head.

This is the last time I'm doing this, thought the man. Bursting with indignation and feeling like a sore loser, he stormed off and planted the seed. He couldn't help sulking when he reflected on how he had been victimized by the Guru's relentlessly inconsiderate behavior. However, the doubt with which he had first approached the Guru continued to haunt him and it didn't look as if he was going to find the answer in the Guru's farm.

Months passed, and the seeker was no wiser on whether a seeker should try to control his or her thoughts. “The Guru knows the answer,” thought the man. “Why then isn't he telling me?” After much soul searching he decided that he had no choice.

He knocked on the door of the Guru's room. The Guru opened the door, and seeing the young man said,"Oh! You're back" The seeker smiled sheepishly and walked into the room. With great humility, he said "I'm going to ask you the same question, but please do not throw seeds at me. Please throw some light through words please, on this issue."

"Come with me. Let's go for a walk." The Guru picked up his walking stick and sauntered out. The seeker followed expectantly.

After a few minutes they reached the farm. “Where did you plant the last seed I gave you?” the Guru demanded. The seeker took him to the patch. There was a tiny shoot. “Pull it out!” the Guru ordered. The young man did as instructed and pulled it out easily with a gentle tug.

"Now, take me to the spot where you planted the second seed I gave you." When they reached the spot they saw a plant about three feet high. Once again, the Guru instructed him to uproot it. The man was beginning to wonder what was the point of this exercise and its relevance to the question he had asked. Also, had he only wasted all his time in planting the seeds only to have the sprouts uprooted? He didn't say anything. He pulled it out. It wasn't very easy to do so. Finally with a few sharp tugs, he yanked it out, roots and all.

He then led the Guru to where he had planted the first seed. It had grown into a tree with branches.

“Can you pull this one out?" the Guru asked.

"I don't think so,” said the seeker.

“Why not?" questioned the Guru.

“Because it's become firmly rooted in the soil."

"Yes, you're right.” The seeker waited, thinking that the Guru would elaborate, but there was only silence. “Don't you get it?” the Guru finally asked. The man shook his head helplessly.

“Thoughts are like seeds. When they have been freshly planted in the mind, they can be easily dislodged by mere will. If we entertain them for some time, it becomes a little more difficult to remove them. We may have to use some force to uproot them. However, if the thought has taken root deeply in the soil of the mind it is next to impossible to uproot it.” The Guru paused for a few minutes, then continued. "So is it with thoughts. If you do not control them when they first make their appearance, it will prove difficult to get rid of them. A thought leads to action. Repeated actions become a habit, and habits form a character. A character determines your destiny. Therefore, do not make your mind a fertile ground for breeding thoughts. Strive to control the number of thoughts entering your mind." Om.

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