Sri Ramakrishna would often warn his devotees about the dangers of vainglory. He would caution them that paying too much attention to external beauty without paying attention to inner beauty could be ruinous.
He was a keen observer and would imitate and show how people cared so much for displaying their charm and beauty. To drive home the point, he would refer to the behaviour of the peacock. The bird, peacock, has beautiful and colourful plumes and would often exhibit them to show its beauty and glory. But its feet are extremely dirty. Any keen observer would quickly spot this contrast. Hence, peacocks are admired only from a distance and would never be allowed inside any house since they would dirty the place.
Likewise, a person ever immersed in body consciousness and caring only for its maintenance, leads a life that is worthless and meaningless. It is far more important to think about and care for inner purification and the resultant beauty, charm and peace.
The more one pays attention to the external world, one is bound to pay less and less attention to the internal world.
Our shastras repeatedly speak about our undying and eternal nature. They say that we are Atman or Brahman and are birthless, deathless and beyond decay and destruction. But those who live at the level of the body, completely forget this and pay attention only to the externals. Because they neglect their inner life, they come to grief ultimately. On the other hand, saints and sages and people of true wisdom not only don’t pay much attention to the body, they even go to the extent of neglecting it deliberately, so as to focus on the purification of mind.
– by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 15th Nov 2014