Stories By Swami – Mankind delights in the fish smell

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Mankind delights in the fish smell

It is difficult, almost impossible, for such people to give up sense enjoyment. It has grown upon them from birth to birth. If you ask a pig to give up his sty and to go into your most beautiful parlour, why it will be death to the pig. “Let go, I must live there”, says the pig.

[Here Swami Vivekananda explained the story of the fishwife: “Once a fishwife was a guest in the house of a gardener who raised flowers. She came there with her empty basket, after selling fish in the market, and was asked to sleep in a room where flowers were kept. But, because of the fragrance of the flowers, she couldn’t get to sleep for a long time. Her hostess saw her condition and said, ‘Hello! Why are you tossing from side to side so restlessly?’ The fishwife said: ‘I don’t know, friend. Perhaps the smell of the flowers has been disturbing my sleep. Can you give me my fish-basket? Perhaps that will put me to sleep’.”]3

So with us. The majority of mankind delights in this fish smell – this world, this enjoyment of the senses, this money and wealth and chattel and wife and children. All this nonsense of the world – this fishy smell – has grown upon us. We can hear nothing beyond it, can see nothing beyond it; nothing goes beyond it. This is the whole universe.

All this talk about heaven and God and soul means nothing to an ordinary man. He has heaven already here. He has no other idea beyond this world. When you tell him of something higher, he says, “That is not a comfortable religion. Give us something comfortable”. That is to say that religion is nothing but what he is doing.

If he is a thief and you tell him that stealing is the highest thing we can do, he will say, “That is a comfortable religion”. If he is cheating, you have to tell him that what he is doing is all right; then he will accept your teaching as a “comfortable religion”. The whole trouble is that people never want to get out of their ruts – never want to get rid of the old fish-basket and smell, in order to live. If they say, “I want the truth”, that simply means that they want the fish-basket.

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