All the power of knowledge and wealth once made has passed away — all the sciences of the ancients, lost, lost forever. Nobody knows how. That teaches us a grand lesson. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity and vexation of the spirit. If we have seen all this, then we become disgusted with this world and all it offers us. This is called Vairâgya, non-attachment, and is the first step towards knowledge.
The natural desire of man is to go towards the senses. Turning away from the senses takes him back to God. So the first lesson we have to learn is to turn away from the vanities of the world.
How long will you go on sinking and diving down and going up for five minutes, to again sink down, again come up and sink, and so on — tossed up and down? How long will you be whirled on this wheel of Karma — up and down, up and down?
How many thousands of times have you been kings and rulers? How many times have you been surrounded by wealth and plunged into poverty? How many thousands of times have you been possessed of the greatest powers?
But again you had to become men, rolling down on this mad rush of Karma’s waters. This tremendous wheel of Karma stops neither for the widow’s tears nor the orphan’s cry. (IX, 219) ]