The Golden Ring

Returned back from a very brief sojourn to Chennai – sweltering heat and profuse sweating pretty much describes the trip. Someone approached me for my opinion on the course to pursue (this person was at career crossroads) and it set me thinking. Seeking advice is such a serious business of late, since there seem to be no dearth for people who ask for and dish out advices.

Should someone’s opinion about us matter too much to us? Shouldn’t we apply some discrimination in taking advices or opinions and act accordingly? Why live life to someone else’s standards, especially if they don’t qualify to be your counsel in the first place? Let us be wise builders and role models. Take care of yourself, and those you love…today, and every day!

Reminded me of a story that a senior teacher and Disciple of His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar ji Founder of Art of Living (you can follow Him on Twitter here : https://twitter.com/#!/SriSriSpeaks )

Read on….

A school boy went to see his teacher to talk about a problem that was troubling him.

“Everyone says I am good for nothing” he complained. “No one believes that I will ever achieve everything. They think I am stupid and lazy. How can I become a better person? What do I have to do for people to appreciate me?”

Without looking at him, the teacher answered “I am sorry, lad, but at the moment I have problem of my own that is occupying my mind, so I can’t help you” he paused and then continued, “But perhaps if you first help me to solve my own problem I could look at how to help you with yours.”

“Of course, Sir” said the boy. But inside he felt let down and small.

The teacher took a gold ring off his little finger and held it up saying, Take your horse and go to the market. There you must sell this ring for me as I need the money to repay a debt. Obviously you must get the best price you can, but whatever you do, don’t accept less than one gold coin for it. Go, and come back with the money as fast as you can.”

The boy took the ring and left. When he arrived at the market, he started to show it to the stallholders. They seemed very interested and were keen to know how much the young boy wanted for it. But when he started to talk about a gold coin, some of them felt about laughing while others just walked off without a backwards glance.

Only one old man was kind enough to explain to him that a gold coin was too much too much to ask for an old ring. Trying to help the young boy, he offered him a bronze coin for it, and then a silver coin. But following the instructions of his teacher not to let it go for less than one gold coin, the boy refused all offers.

After having approached every stallholder and passer-by in the market without success, feeling extremely downhearted at his failure, he got back on his horse and returned to his teacher. How he wished that he had a gold coin himself that he could use to buy the ring, thus freeing the teacher of debt so that he in turn could help him with his own problem!

He went up to his teacher and said, ”I am sorry, Sir, I have failed to achieve what you asked of me. I could have got two or three silver coins for it, but I believe that we can’t mislead anyone about the value of this ring.”

“What you say is very important” replied the professor with a smile. ”First of all we have to find out the real value of this ring. Get back on your horse and take it to the jeweler. Who else can know its value better than he? But whatever he offers you for it, don’t sell it to him. Come back to me with my ring.”

The boy went and to find the jeweler and held out the ring to him to examine. The jeweler scrutinized it through his magnifying glass, weighed it, and said “Tell your teacher that if he wants to sell it today I can only give him 58 gold coins for it.”

“58 gold coins!” exclaimed the boy.

“Yes. And in a while I might be able to give him 70, but if it’s an urgent sale…”

The boy ran back to his teacher in a state of excitement to relate what had happened.

“Sit down” said the teacher. After having listened to the child’ story, he said, “You are like this band of gold; a unique jewel of immense value?” So saying, he put his ring back on his little finger.

The student then realized, a lot of them who adversely commented on this guy were like a stall holder who aren’t qualified enough to realize his worth. It also was an eye-opener in the sense that he realized the importance of seeking guidance or opinion from the right person – teacher was the jeweler who realized his potential which was that of a gold band.
The point to note, never go for an advise when you are too anxious as some researcher points out as a result of his study. When you are deep in the well, you cannot have a proper perspective of possible solutions to extricate yourselves out of that situation. Approach someone who generally has no stake in the solution but understands you well (but make sure he is the jeweller and not a stall hold

Remember a solution is not necessarily a stress reliever. You would end up with more than one solution as a result of this advises received. Helps to Sleep over it for a while – As the chinese proverb goes – When confused, take a pillow and go to bed.

Selfless Service – Best Antidepressant

Why do we have the mood swings – against which was the very reason why we took up such practice in the first place. This question was posed  by an ardent devotee to the Master, His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar – (you can follow HIM on twitter here @SriSri or through the official Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/HHSriSriRaviShankar)  Many of us get into suspicion mode as to why despite so much of sadhana (spiritual practices like yoga, classical music etc) we are not elevated.

HE went about explaining the phenomenon saying, sadhana raises energy levels to such high levels that unless it is channelised productively, there could be some restlessness and uneasiness. The most productive channel is to be of service to others (Seva). Seva thus  is the panacea for these kinds of ills. But then to sustain Seva levels regular Sadhana is a must – therefore both of them go hand in hand. While on the subject, here is a nice story on selfless seva and its benefits to the sevak later on. (The original story is in German and here is the best translation that I could manage – all Credits to the original author for this wonderful story)

The Clouds

One hot summer morning a little Cloud rose out of the sea and floated lightly and happily across the blue sky. Far below lay the earth, brown, dry, and desolate, from drouth. The little Cloud could see the poor people of the earth working and suffering in the hot fields, while she herself floated on the morning breeze, hither and thither, without a care.

“Oh, if I could only help the poor people down there!” she thought. “If I could but make their work easier, or give the hungry ones food, or the thirsty a drink!”

And as the day passed, and the Cloud became larger, this wish to do something for the people of earth was ever greater in her heart.

On earth it grew hotter and hotter; the sun burned down so fiercely that the people were fainting in its rays; it seemed as if they must die of heat, and yet they were obliged to go on with their work, for they were very poor. Sometimes they stood and looked up at the Cloud, as if they were praying, and saying, “Ah, if you could help us!”

“I will help you; I will!” said the Cloud. And she began to sink softly down toward the earth.

But suddenly, as she floated down, she remembered something which had been told her when she was a tiny Cloud-child, in the lap of Mother Ocean: it had been whispered that if the Clouds go too near the earth they die. When she remembered this she held herself from sinking, and swayed here and there on the breeze, thinking,–thinking. But at last she stood quite still, and spoke boldly and proudly. She said, “Men of earth, I will help you, come what may!”

The thought made her suddenly marvelously big and strong and powerful. Never had she dreamed that she could be so big. Like a mighty angel of blessing she stood above the earth, and lifted her head and spread her wings far over the fields and woods. She was so great, so majestic, that men and animals were awe-struck at the sight; the trees and the grasses bowed before her; yet all the earth-creatures felt that she meant them well.

“Yes, I will help you,” cried the Cloud once more. “Take me to yourselves; I will give my life for you!”

As she said the words a wonderful light glowed from her heart, the sound of thunder rolled through the sky, and a love greater than words can tell filled the Cloud; down, down, close to the earth she swept, and gave up her life in a blessed, healing shower of rain.

That rain was the Cloud’s great deed; it was her death, too; but it was also her glory. Over the whole country-side, as far as the rain fell, a lovely rainbow sprang its arch, and all the brightest rays of heaven made its colors; it was the last greeting of a love so great that it sacrificed itself.

Soon that, too, was gone, but long, long afterward the men and animals who were saved by the Cloud kept her blessing in their hearts.

As seen, the fruits of seva continued to linger in form of blessing of the people and animal long after our existence – in case of the clouds the blessings ensured continuing supply of clouds to the mankind. How many songs or verses are written everyday in praise of Clouds to this day.

While we involve and indulge in seva and sadhana, it definitely raises our spirits (the extent of seva should be so high that we should’t have time to worry about our silly problems). We also find that our problems which were insurmountable (in our minds, of course) compares pitiably to the problems many other face much more bravely than us.

Seva is not a duty – it is an Opportunity! I am blessed with loads of opportunity that keeps coming my way, almost every moment. It has indeed enriched and enlivened my life. I am sure it does that to everyone.

To summarize, It pays to serve…It pays to do sadhana

PS: The photograph clicked from a flight in Chennai Skies on return flight from Colombo

In the Eyes of a Potter (Bhakta Kumbara)

 

A bit philosophical this evening. Was watching the video of Commentaries on the Bhakti Sutras of Narada by my beloved Master, HH Sri Sri Ravishankar. No, I am not going to redo the commentary here (nothing beats the style in which it is delivered – suggest everyone should watch this set of 14 VCDs – it is a good pastime, the commentaries delivered in His Characteristic Humour at the same time Rich with knowledge). However this blog entry is related to something that I did a couple of weeks ago (I wrote down 2 blogs subsequent to this incident though). Excuse me if my diary looks haphazard with utter disregard to Chronology.

On another of my favourite blogsite, a fellow blogger wanted lyrics of an All-time Hit Song, sung by Sri PB Srinivas for a movie called Bhaktha Kumbara (The Devoted Potter). PBS has special place in my hearts, for one he is a regular furniture in the Drive-in Woodlands Restuarant, Chennai sipping his endless supply of favourite Filter Coffee with his trademark Hat and a black coat. With reams of old newspaper on the table, he is busy penning new verses (these days he is a good lyricist) apart from exhausting the cup of coffee. Coming back to the song, it goes with the Title, “manava dehavu mULe mAmsada taDike

While I was contemplating on nothing in particular, suddenly hummed this song the lyrics of which I recently posted to the fellow blogger (it was quite fresh in my minds). This was a song which was thoughtlessly sung by me since when I was a kid, but today when I hummed it I was touched by the profound purport of each and every word in that song.

The stanza below means that the body is just a lump of flesh and bones and as long as you breathe, why be with the attitude of Me, Mine, and the moment the breathing stops, it is crematorial rites. Then why be so self seeking materialism (feverish desire) for the sake of this decaying body that would be consigned to the earth.

“usiraaDuva thanaka naanu nannadhemba mamakara
nintha maru galigeye masaNadhe samskaara,
maNNali berethu, mellage koLethu, mugiyuva dehake vyamohaveke?”

The gist of the song is – unlike any other so called lowly living beings, human body has some value only as long as Prana (breath) is present. The moment human body stops breathing , it becomes useless (while part of many other animals find lot of uses even after they die, ivory of the elephant, wood from the trees, hide of animals like buffaloes and cows that goes into making leather etc). Human body is disposed at the earliest (traditionally before sunset). It is only when the light of life glows in the body that it has any charm, after that even the closest of the relative (wife, children) refer to it only as a Body. What a depth these words carry, isnt it? Are we acting so petty or mean to maintain this piece of flesh? Degrading everything around us that made us in the first place.

The song goes on to say, we came into the world nude, we will go from the world nude and from the time or arrival to the time of departure (between life and death) it is darkness. So brighten you life by immersing yourself devoted to the Lord.

baruvaaga beththale hoguvaaga bethethale
bandu hOguva naduve bari kaththale
bhaktiya belaku baaLige beku
mukthige vittalana kondadad beku

The couple of stanzas excerpted here touched me to the core. The purport can’t come out in toto in my translation (the reason why I reproduced it in Kannada for those who know the language) Food for thought. The inimitable rendition of the song by Sri. PBS made it even more profound (just heard it online once again). Upon specific request from HH Sri Sri Ravishankar, Sri PBS rendered this song, in the whole world’s view (25 million converged in Bangalore during the 3 days and millions more watched it live on TV or Webcast), during the final day of the Silver Jubiless Celebrations of the Art of Living in Bangalore.

It now has changed my perspective and outlook to life in general  (atleast in this present moment). Put down this thought to reflect sometime later even if things settle down and it probabily becomes a memory tomorrow and out of my active thoughts! But the Truth expressed by the poet in this Verse is real and eternal too.

You can watch the video and hear it in Sri PBS Voice