November 2012

Watch in others for weaknesses which you should guard against in yourselves. – Chinmaya

All of us, without exception, have been blessed with one great ability in abundance; and that is to find fault with others!

Why not use this ‘God-given talent’ creatively?

The above quote shows us the way.

Why is it that we generally show greater interest in others’ weaknesses than in their goodness? It is because our egos find great joy in proving themselves better than all others around. ‘Either lift oneself high or pull others down’ is the way of the ego. The latter being the easier and the cheaper way, the ego derives its sense of satisfaction by probing into the negativities in others.

This story is of the time when Sheikh Sadi, a famous Persian poet and a great saint, was studying in a school. He was a bright and meritorious student. Anything taught by the teacher would form part of his permanent memory. He would even cram the meanings of the tough words of the Hadis (the traditional sayings of Prophet Mohammed) very easily. His extraordinary capabilities caused jealousy for him among his classmates, which he was very well aware of.

One day Sadi went to his teacher and said, “Sir, some of the classmates are jealous of me. Will they be liable to go to Hell for this?”

The teacher looked at his student carefully and said, “Sadi, you too are committing a crime of complaining against them. This act of yours will cause you also to go to Hell!”

The moment we touch filth, our hands become dirty! So too, the moment we contemplate upon the evil traits in others, we find our minds getting disturbed.

Any mental agitation is an indication that we are going astray from the path of righteousness. It indicates the Lord’s displeasure. He has created us to live in love and harmony with each other. Fault-finding will only lead to mutual hatred. In Gurudev’s words, “When the fault becomes thick, love becomes thin!”

If we develop a lovable nature in ourselves, it becomes very easy to deal even with uncultured people and handle difficult situations.

There is an incident mentioned in the life of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (Indian educationalist, the founder of Banaras Hindu University – the largest residential university in Asia, notable freedom fighter and who also had been the President of Indian National Congress for many years).

Once some university students went to the bank of river Ganga. They went berserk after climbing into the boat and as a result, damaged it badly. In great distress, the boatman came running to the residence of Malaviyaji. Boiling with anger the boatman began shouting at the top of his voice, “You have formed a band of hooligans…”

Malaviyaji, hearing the noise outside, came out of his room. When he learned that the students had damaged the boat of the boatman, he stood before him with folded hands in all humility and said, “Brother, with deepest regrets, I seek forgiveness for all that has happened. I am ready to take any punishment for whatever loss my students have caused you. I shall in no time arrange to have your boat mended.”

The boatman was greatly embarrassed to see a great personage like Malaviya ji behaving in so humble a manner. He began begging for his forgiveness and said, “I am extremely sorry sir! I had lost control over my tongue due to anger. Please forgive me. I shall have my boat mended myself.”

The one who ever remains alert guarding the inner purity, detects and rejects the outer impurities with ease.

Someone once wrote an abusing letter to Mahatma Gandhiji which ran into many pages. Gandhiji went through the letter, kept the paper-clip, and threw away the letter to the dustbin. To those present there watching this, he said with a smile, “In life too, we must learn to retain the useful and reject the worthless!”

Many times we get disturbed and irritated seeing the uncultured behaviour of others. But let us not forget that once upon a time we were also like them!

It takes millions of births for anyone, to graduate from the animal kingdom and attain the saintly status of Godly Perfection. Going up the ladder of evolution is always slow and steady. Like the foetus in the womb, every being takes its own time to emerge out of its sheaths of selfish imperfections. No haste is ever observed in nature.

This being the case, when we see the imperfections in others, let us be reminded of our unrefined pasts in all our previous lives. Let us, time and again, bring into our minds how others too, in their magnanimity, had put up with our imperfections silently, forgiving and forgetting our ungrateful moods and unethical motives.

In one of the favourite Bible stories, Jesus saves a prostitute, Mary Magdalene, from being stoned to death. Jesus says, “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” All leave, because in the heart of hearts they knew that none was clean!

Bumps and pot-holes are but part of any ride; so too the uncultured and the unrefined, the careless and the inadvertent, the arrogant and the boisterous in the journey of life. None can avoid them. Let us equip ourselves with solid shock absorbers – of forgiveness and compassion – and thus make each moment of life’s journey pleasant and memorable.

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Posted in: Chintana

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