"The main thing is to keep the main thing as the main thing."
The first is a story from his memoir, "The Journey Home". During his travels in the Himalayas, he reached the holy city of Rishikesh. There, he took a month-long vow to fast and meditate on a rock in the Ganges to receive enlightenment. After successfully completing his month-long vow and being blessed with deep spiritual wisdom, he decided to break his fast with the one rupee coin some pilgrim had donated him. Remembering, a peanut vendor that he used to see on his way to the Ganges, he decided to buy some peanuts and give himself a feast. When the shopkeeper saw one rupee, his eyes lit up and he made a large shopping bag of old newspapers and filled it with peanuts. As Radhanath Swami walked along the jungle path to his cave, rejoicing at the prospect of enjoying the peanuts, he came face to face with a huge brown monkey who blocked his path.
Growling, baring his pointed teeth and staring with piercing green eyes, he at once sprang on Radhanath and in one motion, seized the bag of peanuts, swiftly kicking Radhanath on his chest to catapult away. Gasping, Radhanath Swami stumbled back a few steps. Seeing some of the peanuts fallen on the ground during the scuffle, he thought, "Well, at least these will suffice to break my fast." As he stooped to pick them up, another monkey leaped from a tree, scooped every peanut and disappeared with nothing left for Radhanath Swami expect an important treasure of wisdom. In life there is no loss; even a so called loss can be a gain, if we are willing to see the hidden lesson beneath the unpleasant packaging. As he was walking to his cave with his stomach rumbling, he reflected, "Compared to the treasure of spiritual experience, worldly acquisition is like peanuts. People lie, cry and die for a few of these peanuts. They struggle for a handful. Wars are raged over them. But at any moment, a monkey, another's greed or the inevitable march of time may plunder from us our cherished peanuts."
Isn't this such a profound piece of wisdom - to not loose our spiritual treasure for the cheap, worldly, insignificant pleasures. As the wise Chankaya Pandit warned us - "Don't exchange the permanent for the impermanent, for you will be left with none". Somehow the nature of our conditioned mind is to interpret inessentials as essentials and essentials as inessentials. Therefore, we need to be regularly reminded of the true purpose of life and what is truly essential by regularly reading scriptures and hearing from saints. Just like a car, if not steered goes off the road similarly if we don't regularly steer our spiritual life, we will go off track and meet with a spiritual accident.
Radhanath Swami in his second book called "The Journey Within", gives another brilliant analogy of a crane which was spoken by great saint of South India named Anantacharya. Anantacharya explains how a spiritualist should be like a crane. What is the characteristic of a crane? A crane stands on one leg, completely focused on the water as if it as a Yogi. What is it meditating on? Definitely, not on God but on a fish? But on which fish? Not on the small and little ones but on the big and huge ones. It allows the smaller fishes to pass by and waits patiently for the big fish. As soon as it sees the big fish, it plunges head-on and catches it at once. What is the learning for all of us? The learning is that a spiritualist too allows small, petty pleasures of this world to pass by and waits patiently, being completely focused on a achieving the big fish of spiritual bliss. His priorities are very clear and doesn't compromise on his standard of happiness. He is expert in the art of letting of "the small" to achieve "the big".