Good Deed – Where to Draw the line!

In continuation with my previous blog entry, Good Deed, Bad Turn, where I discussed on the bad effect of a very good intent and deed. A crippled for life butterfly due to the seemingly very good intent – a pertinent question that could rise (and in fact posed by a friend) – profound and immensely thought provoking one.

The question in her own words… “What a wonderful story. But I have some questions relating to the application of the story in real life.

I put myself in the place of the man observing the cocoon. There are so many instances that I know I can help a person who really needs me and sometimes I get overboard in helping that person. How can one know how to draw the line ?”

This unexpected question on what I thought was a straightforward application to anyone’s life set me thinking. Reflecting it for a couple of days, I could arrive at some kind of answers – which was needed especially after I received a couple of reminders seeking it.

My reply – I prefer to make it conversational to capture the essence of the discussion.

Two aspects had to be understood in this context.  First up, the story was not meant to act as a guide to decision making. The author of the story (anonymous to me) I believe intended us to be aware that all help, however noble the intent is may not be really a help. In fact, the target of our seva may be better off had we not intervened like in the story.
Secondly, it  also highlights the fact that troubles or travails in life is not necessarily a negative thing, it helps us GROW and MOST IMPORTANTLY REALIZE OUR OWN CAPABILITIES, which is in fact infinite.

Look at the story from the Butterfly’s perspective – dont you think that if only the struggle was complete, wings would have developed totally and helped it to take flight. Coming to your question, I think (very very personal opinion here) the answer lies in changing our perspective from that of the person observing the cocoon to that of the butterfly emerging out of the cocoon.

Meaning try to get into the other persons shoes to decide the cut-off point. Have you also noticed that most of the times in life, we end up helping people whom we can or feel like helping (at our convenience and comfort) and not always the one who needs help.

It is our call that wins – this person needs help or that person needs help – a decision that we as doer take. Another example, earlier in my career – my job which involves lot of technical presentations – I used to prepare Powerpoint presentations as a training aid to myself as trainer. Whereas it should be done with audience in mind because the central figure and target of training is the audience not the trainer,

The same applies to seva or help that we do to others. Change the focus from us as helper to the recipient of our help. More often than not, we would find the solution in the process of switching perspective.

Once the perspective is changed, we will realize the extent and the very need of help anyone requires and we will not do or overdo things when not required.

Thanks my dear friend for this very thought provoking question, it made me think and find answers atleast for myself. The conclusions as always are open to debate and corrections!

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Good Deed Bad Turn – To serve or not to serve

My resolve to start putting my thoughts from the beginning of 2012 takes shape with a nice story that I happened to receive. An old one but a lot of lessons for us. Credit for the story goes to the author and the picture used to the rights holder (in case the owner feels it is in violation, I am only glad to take it off this blog)

A couple of incidents recently prompts me to reproduce a beautiful story that I happen to know. One of them is the blog entry by a fellow esatsangi (another blog spot of mine) titled Hurdles. I was also in conversation with a fellow esatsangi regarding some problems in that person’s life and in trying to help that person, I was warned by my wife and sister that I am actually crippling and not really helping this person in overcoming the situation. I sincerely hope this person or anyone who feels that help is not forthcoming reads this story which I also hope would act as a gentle reminder that struggles are not always bad in life. Smooth sailing may be crippler.

Read on…

There was this person – very gentle, kind-hearted soul. He was a nature lover and appreciated all good things that the Divine bestowed for us humans to enjoy. He cultivated a nice garden around his home, which also served as home to a lot of flowers, plants and all other such things that were a feast for a nature lover cum connoisseur’s eyes. Naturally it also served as a feeding and breeding ground for another of nature’s gift to mankind – the butterflies.

One day, he found a cocoon in his garden. And the keen enthusiast in him eagerly observed the developments. He saw a tiny opening on the cocoon and watched the butterfly wriggling and struggling to get out through it. Hours went by and this butterfly never seem to give up its seemingly futile struggle to emerge out of the cocoon. It went out as much as it could and suddenly it appeared to this person that it has gotten as far as it could and could not emerge out any further. It pained this person no ends, to see a fellow living being struggling and unable to take wings and add to the nature’s splendour. He then decided to help this butterfly.
He took a scissor, cut open the rest of the cocoon. The butterfly emerged out easily. Wow…a good deed done by this kind-hearted soul.

He then tracked the progress of this being whom he had delivered to the world. Something however looked amiss. The body of the butterfly was swollen and wings shrivelled. He eagerly continued his vigil waiting for the wings to develop strong enough for it to support the body weight and take flight. But alas! it was not to be. He found that this butterfly crawled rest of it life with the large swollen body and under-developed wings. It never could fly 😦

Nature designs every system in this world with a purpose, what this person in haste did not realize was that the tiny apperture on the cocoon is the nature’s way for forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly (pupa stage) into its wings so that it is ready for fly once it emerges out of the cocoon.

Struggles are divine’s design for us for our own growth. If everything life were made smooth that would cripple us. We would not be as strong and not only that, WE MAY NEVER FLY!!!