Practicing spirituality

Once Sage Narad was sitting in the Deity Shiva's court on the mountain Kailas. Many other illustrious sages were also present. Just then Sage Durvas (a great sage) entered the assembly carrying a huge bundle of books. Durvas was a great Sage, but he was quick to anger. Ignoring the august assembly, he went and sat by the side of Shiva. Shiva smilingly asked him, "Sir, how are your studies progressing?" The sage, proudly displaying his bundle of books, replied, "I have thoroughly studied all these volumes and know them by heart!"

Now Sage Narad, who was observing all these events, stood up and boldly called Durvas a donkey carrying a burden of books on his back. Hearing Narad's comment, Durvas thundered in wrath. At this, Narad retorted, "There you are! You have not been able to conquer your anger in spite of your scholarship. Ignoring this august assembly, you went ahead and sat next to Shiva! What good is scholarship without patience and forgiveness? In your case, these books are nothing but the burden of a donkey." Thus chastised, Durvas realized his folly. He bowed in front of Narad and asked for forgiveness. He then threw his books into the sea and went into penance.

Moral: This story shows that one makes progress in spirituality only when he puts into practice whatever theoretical knowledge he has learnt. Mere book learning only serves as a burden as it increases one's ego and pride, two of the biggest obstacles for spiritual progress.