In a certain forest there lived a sage who had a number of disciples. He taught his disciples the truth: "God dwells in all things. Knowing this, you should bend your knee before every object." One day a disciple went out into the forest for wood. On his way he saw a man riding a mad elephant and shouting: "Get out of the way, get out of the way! This is a mad elephant." The disciple, instead of running away, remembered his master's teaching and began to reason: "God is in the elephant as well as in me. God cannot be hurt by God, so why should I run away?" Thus thinking, he stood where he was and saluted the elephantas he came nearer. The driver (Mâhoot) kept on shouting: "Get out of the way!" but the disciple would not move, until he was snatched up by the mad elephant and dashed to one side. The poor boy, bruised and bleeding, lay on the ground unconscious. The sage, hearing of the accident, came with his other disciples to carry him home. When after some time the unfortunate pupil recovered consciousness, he described what had happened. The sage replied: My boy, it is true that God is manifest in everything. But if He is in the elephant, is He not equally manifest in the driver (Mâhoot)? Tell me why you did not pay heed to the warning of the driver?
The Bhagavân continued: In the sacred Scriptures it is written, "God dwells in water"; but some water can be used for divine service, or for drinking purposes, some for bathing or washing, while dirty water cannot be touched even. In the same manner, although God resides in all human beings, still there are good men and bad men, there are lovers of God and those who do not love God. We should recognize Divinity in all, but we should not mix with bad people or with those who do not love God. Our relation with them must not be very close. It is wise to avoid the company of such people.
Narendra: What attitude should we hold when wicked people come to disturb our peace or do actually offend us?
Bhagavân: A person living in society should have a little Tamas (the spirit of resisting evil) Resistance of for purposes of self-protection. But evil this is necessary only for outward show, its object being to prevent the wicked from doing harm to you. At the same time you should not do actual injury to another on the ground that he has done injury to you.
(From the Gospel of Ramakrishna)