Tej Bahadur, a young businessman in India, spent a great deal of his hard-earned money traveling back and forth to London to confirm his business transactions. As a result, he was concerned to the point of obsession about saving money and economizing in business.
No matter how much he reduced his overhead, he was never satisfied and thought constantly of fantastic schemes for saving money. He once brooded over going to London by working his way there as a sailor. He also thought of inventing, inexpensive oil-run seaplanes in order to travel to London more economically.
Tej Bahadur sometimes even indulged in wild fantasies. He wondered, for example, why God had not made him fast moving like electricity, which traverses vast tracts of space in the twinkling of an eye.
One day, while bemoaning the fact that he was not speedy like the lightning, a friend who knew of his strange plans for economizing came scurrying toward him. Excitedly he said, “Tej Bahadur, come to the banks of the Ganges. I have found a man who can levitate and walk on water, and is willing to teach the method to a worthy student.”
Listening attentively, Tej Bahadur was greatly impressed and said to himself: “Thank God for sending me a levitating tutor. I will ask him to teach me levitation, and that will save me much of the money I spend annually on my European business trips.”
Thinking this, he wended his way toward the riverbank, where the Master had temporarily encamped. Tej Bahadur asked the Master to teach him levitation. The Master agreed to do so, and started giving him a lesson.
The Master said gently, “Son, every night, dim the light in your bedroom and lock the doors. Sitting erect on a straight chair facing east, with closed eyes mentally chant, ‘Om,’ the holy word of the cosmic vibration, for an hour. At the end of one month you will be able to race over the waters.”
Inwardly wondering about the extreme simplicity of the lesson, Tej Bahadur thanked the Master and was about to return home when the Master called him back. “Son,” the Master said, “I forgot to tell you something about the technique of levitation. While you are concentrating and mentally chanting ‘Om,’ be sure not to think of a monkey.”
“That is simple,” said Tej Bahadur. “Of course I won’t think of a monkey.” After saluting the saint, he returned home.
Evening came fast and found Tej Bahadur closing the windows, pulling down the shades, and sitting in a straight chair in his bedroom to practice the technique of levitation. No sooner had he done so when, like a thunderbolt, the first thought to strike him was: “I must not think of a monkey.”
Two minutes passed and several times he warned himself inwardly, “I must not think of a monkey.” When ten minutes had passed, and he had thought of all the different kinds of monkeys in South America, India, Africa, Sumatra and still other places, he was furious.
Tej Bahadur willed himself to banish all thoughts of the monkeys, which, in a fast moving procession, were leaping through the window of his helpless mind. At the end of an hour he found himself thinking of nothing but monkeys.
With each succeeding day he meditated faithfully. But, to his great annoyance, he found that he was only frantically trying not to think of the millions of monkeys that were jumping into his mind.
After concentrating for a month upon the forbidden monkeys, and beside himself with helpless rage, Tej Bahadur raced back to the Master and exclaimed loudly, “Master, take back your lesson on levitation. I don’t want to learn to walk on water. You have taught me to meditate upon monkeys, not how to levitate. You have developed and increased the monkey consciousness in me.”
The saint laughed merrily. Then, in a voice as soothing as the dew, he said, “Son, I tried to show you how untrained and slavish your mental state of concentration is. Unless you learn to make your mind obey you, you cannot achieve any success, not to speak of attaining the power of levitation, a difficult art.
“First learn mental control; then use that power to achieve small things. When you are able to do that, apply that power to bigger and bigger achievements until your inner power becomes developed enough for you to levitate, or to accomplish even greater spiritual miracles.
“And always remember: far greater than levitation and similar powers is the miracle of God’s unending joy.”