What is the best thing a spiritual aspirant can do?
Carry out his guru's instruction.
What must be avoided?
Deeds which lead us into greater ignorance of the truth.
Who is a guru?
He who has found the truth of Brahman and is always concerned for the welfare of his disciples.
What is the first and most important duty for a man of right understanding?
To cut through the bonds of worldly desire.
How can one be liberated?
By attaining the knowledge of Brahman.
Who, in this world, can be called pure?
He whose mind is pure.
Who can be called wise?
He who can discriminate between the real and the unreal.
What poisons the spiritual aspirant?
Neglect of the guru's teachings.
For one who has achieved human birth, what is the most desirable objective?
To realize that which is his ultimate good and to be constantly engaged in doing good to others.
What deludes a man like intoxicating drink?
Attachment to the objects of the senses.
What are thieves?
The objects which steal our hearts away from the truth.
What causes the bondage of worldly desire?
Thirst to enjoy these objects.
What is the obstacle to spiritual growth?
What is the best weapon with which to subdue others?
Wherein lies strength?
Where is poison?
Within the wicked.
What is fearlessness?
What is most to be feared?
To become possessed by your own wealth.
What is most rarely found among mankind?
Love for the Lord.
What are the evils most difficult to rid oneself of?
Jealousy and envy.
Who is dear to the Lord?
He who is fearless and takes away fear from others.
How does on attain liberation?
By practicing spiritual disciplines.
Who is most lovable?
The knower of Brahman.
How does one develop the power of discrimination?
Through service to an elder.
Who are elders?
Those who have realized the ultimate truth.
Who is truly wealthy?
He who worships the Lord with devotion.
Who profits from his life?
The humble man.
Who is a loser?
He who is proud.
What is the most difficult task for a man?
To keep his mind under constant control.
Who protects an aspirant?
Who is the teacher of this world?
How does one attain wisdom?
By the grace of the Lord.
How is one liberated?
Through devotion to the Lord.
Who is the Lord?
He who leads us out of ignorance.
What is ignorance?
The obstacle to the unfoldment of the Divine which is within us.
What is the ultimate Reality?
What is unreal?
That which disappears when knowledge awakes.
How long has ignorance existed?
From a time without beginning.
What is unavoidable?
The death of the body.
Whom should we worship?
An incarnation of God.
What is liberation?
The destruction of our ignorance.
Who is not to be trusted?
He who lies habitually.
What is the strength of a holy man?
His trust in God.
Who is a holy man?
He who is forever blissful.
Who is free from sin?
He who chants the name of the Lord.
What is the source of all the scriptures?
The sacred syllable OM.
What carry us across the ocean of worldliness?
The lotus feet of the Lord; they carry us like a great ship.
Who is bound?
He who is attached to worldliness.
Who is free?
He who is dispassionate.
How is heaven attained?
The attainment of heaven is freedom from cravings.
What destroys craving?
Realization of one's self.
What is the gate of hell?
Who lives in happiness?
He who has attained samadhi.
Who is awake?
He who discriminates between right and wrong.
Who are our enemies?
Our sense-organs, when they are uncontrolled.
Who are our friends?
Our sense-organs, when they are controlled.
Who is poor?
He who is greedy.
Who is totally blind?
He who is lustful.
Who has overcome the world?
He who has conquered his own mind.
What are the duties of a spiritual aspirant?
To keep company with the holy, to renounce all thoughts of "me" and "mine", to devote himself to God.
Whose birth is blessed?
His who does not have to be reborn.
Who is immortal?
He who does not have to pass through another death.
When is one established in the idea of renunciation?
When one knows that Atman and Brahman are one.
What is right action?
Action that pleases the Lord.
In this world, what is the greatest terror?
The fear of death.
Who is the greatest hero?
He who is not terror-stricken by the arrows which shoot from the eyes of a beautiful girl.
Who is poor?
He who is not contented.
What is meanness?
To beg from someone who has less than you.
Whom should we honor?
Him who does not beg from anyone.
Who, in this world, is truly alive?
He whose character is free from blemish.
Who is awake?
He who practices discrimination.
Who is asleep?
He who lives in ignorance.
What roll quickly away, like drops of water from a lotus leaf?
Youth, wealth and the years of a man's life.
Who are said to be as pure as the rays of the moon?
What is hell?
To live in slavery to others.
What is happiness?
What is a man's duty?
To do good to all beings.
What are worthless as soon as they are won?
Honor and fame.
What brings happiness?
The friendship of the holy.
What is death?
What is the most valuable thing?
A gift given at the right time.
What disease lingers on until a man dies?
A bad deed which has been hidden.
What should one strive for?
To go on learning as long as one lives.
What should a man hate?
Greed for the wives and the wealth of other men.
What should a man think of, day and night?
He should think how transitory this world is. He should never think thoughts of lust.
What should we prize most dearly?
Compassion and the friendship of the holy.
Whose heart do you fail to win even if you try your hardest?
The heart of a fool or of a man who is afraid or stricken with grief or incapable of gratitude.
Who avoids the snares of the world?
He who is truthful and who is able to remain unmoved by either pleasure or pain and all life's other pairs of opposites.
To whom do the gods themselves pay homage?
To him who is compassionate.
Whom do all men respect?
Him who is humble and speaks the truth so that it does good to others and makes them happy.
Who is blind?
He who does evil deeds.
Who is deaf?
He who will not listen to good advice.
Who is dumb?
He who does not speak kind words when they are needed.
Who is a friend?
He who prevents another from doing evil.
What is a man's best ornament?
His good character.
What qualities are the rarest in the world?
To have the gift of speaking sweet words with compassion, to be learned without pride, to be heroic and also forgiving, to be rich without attachment to riches--these four are rare.
What is the most to be deplored?
Miserliness in the wealthy.
What is to be praised?
Who is revered by the wise?
He who is humble.
Who wins glory for his entire family?
He who remains humble when is endowed with greatness.
Who is the master of this world?
He whose words are sweet and beneficial and who follows the path of righteousness.
Who is never touched by any danger?
He who follows the words of the wise and has his senses under control.
Where should one live?
One should live with the holy.
What should a wise man refrain from uttering?
Falsehoods and evil words against others.
What ought a man to remember?
The sacred name of the Lord.
What are the enemies of the spiritual aspirant?
Lust and greed.
What should a man protect from harm?
A faithful wife and his power of discrimination.
What is the tree that fulfills all wishes?
The teachings of the guru.
Translated by Swami Prabhavananda & Christopher Isherwood