During the Apollo 13 space mission to the moon, I was asked what I thought about going to the moon and the significance of such a mission. My immediate response was: I would like to go if they would take me!
These explorations signify the restlessness and curiosity of the human mind. The mind wants to know more and more, even without knowing whether or not the knowledge will be an advantage or a disadvantage. Often, we want to open something up and then all of a sudden what comes out is rather difficult to handle.
This reminds me of the story about a very large and beautiful jar that was taken from the sea. It had become caught in the net of a few young boys who were fishing. Naturally, they immediately wanted to know what was inside. But while examining the tightly closed bottle, they saw some writing that said, “Whoever finds this jar, please do not try to open it.” That made them even more curious. Because when you are asked not to do something, you have to do it! So with some hesitation, taking many precautions, and with great difficulty, they took away the seal and opened the top. All of a sudden, lots of smoke came out and it formed a mushroom-shaped cloud similar to that of the atomic bomb cloud. They became frightened and moved away to watch the whole phenomena from a slight distance.
After a while, the entire cloud formed into a sort of terrible, huge dark monster that started talking to them:
“I thank you for releasing me from this prison, but I’m terribly sorry to say that I am very hungry, and since I have to eat something, I am going to devour you!” So the boys started running. They ran and ran while this monster was chasing them. The only way to save themselves was to go to a sage who lived nearby and had the ability to deal with these kinds of things. They found the sage, fell at his feet, and begged to be saved. At this moment, the wise man saw the monster walking toward them. And because he had such patience and calmness, he just looked at the monster, smiled at him, and said: “Greetings to you on this nice day. May I know who you are sir?” Because of the serenity of the sage, the monster forgot his hunger for a minute, stood there and replied,
“Yes, sir. I am a monster.”
“So what are you up to?”, the sage asked.
“I am really hungry and I want to eat these boys,” the monster replied.
“Okay, I will allow you to do that, but first, would you please let me know where you came from?”
The monster replied, “Oh, I was in a jungle, doing all kinds of things and all of a sudden a person like you came along. He tricked me, and then converted me into smoke, bottled me into a jar, and sealed me up. Thank goodness these boys released me.”
“What?, the wise man asked. “You were made into smoke, and bottled up in the jar? It’s very difficult to believe this. You, a big monster in a jar! Are you really telling me the truth?”
The monster asked, “Do you think that only people can speak truth? Even monsters can speak truth.”
“I’m terribly sorry, I just can’t believe you unless you can demonstrate that to me.”
“If you want me to demonstrate, then come with me.”
“Okay then, I’ll follow you.”
The monster led both the boys and the sage back to the beach where he was released from the jar and then he transformed himself into a cloud of smoke saying:
“Just to prove to you that this is where I came from, you will see how I can go right into this jar.”
Then, as smoke, he quickly entered the bottle. As he went in, the wise man called out to the boys, “Come on now, quick, quick, plug it up again and seal it!”
The boys thanked the sage and promised that in the future they would not let their curiosity do anything that might cause harm.
I don’t discourage anybody from exploring. But before we do that, let us know how to handle whatever might come out of it. We have already unleashed many a force of nature. And as a result, we are in terrible distress. For example, the atomic force is nothing but a monster. It had been bottled up in a small atom and we broke it open. Now, it is frightening us.
There was nothing wrong in opening it but before we did that we should have understood its capacity and we should have had the sanity to use it in the proper way. Then we wouldn’t be in this dangerous state. I’m not against scientific advancements; it’s good. But we should be able to use what we discover in the proper way, for the proper purpose, which means for the benefit of all of humanity. Otherwise, we should wait until we are ready.
Let things be there unopened until we are ready because when that time comes, all those things will come under our command automatically. They are all ready to obey us. Just by the will, by the mere thought, you can command nature. Let us first develop that capacity. Let us learn that art. Even before you take get a driver’s license, you are not allowed to sit behind the wheel without a licensed driver with you. That’s because everyone on the road would be in danger, if you sat behind the wheel without the proper training and passing the test.
Someone may have a license to drive a car but at the same time they take license with drinking and driving! Then they don’t drive the car, the car drives them. So the most important thing is to have a calm mind so you can handle all situations and face any kind of circumstances that might arise. Then, the great potential of nature will unfold within us. Otherwise, there is no end to trying to satisfy our curiosity. Today it’s the moon, tomorrow Mars and ultimately we may even try to go to the sun. Any unforeseen things might happen. We should become more and more conscious and we must develop the inner person first. We must try to conquer the inner moon before we set foot on the outer moon. The inner moon, is the mind.
We should take a sample of our inner moon and analyze it as to whether it contains contagious germs or not. That is exactly what you do in meditation. You take a sample of your inner moon. You analyze it in your lab while you meditate. Taking just one thought of the mind, is like taking a sample of the moon rock. Meditation is a space trip within; an exploration of the moon within. The spiritual yogis want to explore this inner moon and the material yogis, or the scientists, want to explore the outer moon. There is no danger in the inner exploration; no harm to anybody. So at least as outer exploration continues, let us also develop our inner exploration. There should be research on both sides.
Source: From a talk in 1970 by Sri Swami Satchidananda