Friday, April 30, 2010

Sant Samagam: Our Metrics

Let's start sabha off this week with a quick quiz. Imagine our job lay in measuring the world around us. How would we measure... bad these socks smell?

Answer: Hobo Power - According to radio personality Adam Carolla, it's the unit of measure for how bad something smells. On a scale of 0-100, anything scored zero hobo would not stink, and anything scored 100 hobos would smell so bad that it would kill us - stay away!

...the smallest distance a computer mouse can move?

Answer: Mickey - Inspired by the Disney character Mickey Mouse, one mickey is equal to about 0.1 millimeter. Imagine that!

...the spiciness of these peppers?

Answer: Scoville - Chemist Wilbur Scoville came up with this unit for the "hotness" of any food. A bell pepper has a Scoville rating of zero while Naga Jolokia has a rating of 1.05 million Scoville; needless to say, it's the spiciest pepper known to man!

Basically, we as humans seek meaning through measuring everything and anything - smell, spice, smallest movement of the computer mouse. So how do we measure our decisions in life? Sant samagam, this week's topic.

The eight years we spend in kishore mandal, from freshman year in high school to the senior year in college, can really shape where we end up in life. Now, more than ever, we need to be oriented in the right direction. Let's take a look at this infographic (click for larger view). It breaks down FBI's 2008 report for crimes using children. Basically, each child represents the likelihood that they will commit those crimes when they enter the world as adults.

Obviously, this picture will be too much for the entire audience to take in at once, but here are the highlights worthy of mentioning.

  • Total crimes in the picture = about 14 million committed in 2008
  • Drugs & Drinking (Drug Abuse + DUI + Liquor Laws + Drunkenness + Disorderly Conduct) = about 4.5 million (31.63%)
  • Theft (Larceny + Burglary + Embezzlement + Stolen Property + Robbery + Car Theft + Counterfeiting/Forgery) = 2.2 million (14.70%)
  • Aggression (On Family/Children + Assault + Arson + Murder) = 575,468 (4.19%)
  • Sex crimes (Rape + Sex offenses + Prostitution) = 177,502 (1.27%)
  • Runaway = 109,225 (0.78%)
  • Gambling = 9,811 (0.07%)

While we could categorize the remaining crimes, these will do for now since they are the most relevant to our age. Again, these numbers represent how many kids in 2008 will grow up and commit the following crimes.

Now, what does the Satpurush say with regards to all of these? 

Drugs & Drinking
On February 19, 1993, in Calcutta, India, a few members of India's under 19 cricket team had come to our temple for Swamishri's blessings. Pankaj Thakur, an outstanding young cricketer, was part of this group. Swamishri asked him, "Do you know the meaning of Pankaj?"

"Yes, it means 'kamal' (lotus flower)." replied Pankaj.

"That's right," said Swamishri.

"A lotus remains totally dry despite the fact that it grows in water. In the same way, we should remain untouched by bad influence despite being in the limelight of world cricket."

It is a well-known fact that a young and promising star is often forced into intriguing situations before he reaches his full potential. More often than not, this ruins his life and career. Swamishri took the opportunity to warn the young man.

"We should not be influenced into harmful habits such as meat eating, drinking, and other such addictions. The glamour of cricket will offer many temptations on its way but don't be lured into bad ways. Remain untouched like a lotus."

The young cricketer felt blessed and vowed to stay away from bad influence.

In 1983 Swamishri came to Nadiad from Dabhan. Dinner was arranged at the house of Champaksinh Gohil (the then president of the district). Champaksinh did pujan of Swamishri and made a donation of 100 rupees. At the time, I didn't see who took the money. So, the next day I reminded the area coordinator of Nadiad, Shri Navneet Panchal, "We have to send a receipt of 100 rupees to Champakbhai's house, but I can't seem to find the money anywhere."

"I don't know who took the money either," confessed Navneetbhai.

We asked everyone, but no one knew where it had gone. However, ten days later, I received a letter from a youth, called Suresh, from a village near Vadodara. In it he said, "Last night Pramukh Swami Maharaj appeared before me in a dream and told me, 'You have stolen 100 rupees from God. You've also stolen other amounts of money which the devotees had given to the sadhus, and you've spent it on your house. But you will never be happy. So return all the money to Janmangal Swami. Otherwise he'll suspect someone else of stealing the money. Then you'll have to bear the sin for that as well. So be sure to return the money."

This youth, Suresh, had left the letter on Tyagvallabh Swami's desk in Bochasan. He even wrote, "If I had written my address, then you'd catch me, so I've left that space empty."

From this incident I realised Swamishri's divine intuition to know what is happening, even when he's not present.

Aggression (Anger)
Once a devotee asked Swamishri, "I believe that sadhus can achieve at will. That's why I've come. I've long been a slave to my anger and ego and I want to be free of them."

Swamishri replied, "Anger stems from ego. In fact ego is the root of all bad instincts. If one has self pride and someone labels him as good or bad, he is emotionally carried away. But remember, we are neither very good nor very bad. We do not become so upon someone saying so. But we should not look bad in front of God. Remember Shriji Maharaj and then slowly try to remove these instincts. If one can realize that 'I am atma and I am pure', then there is no place for ego. We have to uproot it with such knowledge. Also, if we can think that 'everyone understands; only I don't understand,' then who will we get angry upon? There's no doubt about it, we have to eradicate our ego. It is because of our self-pride that conflicts arise. So forget our self being; whatever has been achieved, it is due to God.

During a special question answer dialogue in the Divya Sannidhi Camp with Swamishri on May 23,2001 in Sankari, a number of questions were first asked to the karyakars and then to Swamishri.

Q: What does Swamishri like?

Karyakars answered, "Cultivating the virtues Swamishri possesses. Harmony (Samp). Friendship (Suhradbhav). Unity (Ekta). Doing ghar sabha. Humility. Not watching television?"

Swamishri replied, "Everyone has given the answers to what I like - to do ghar sabha, not to be cynical about others, etc..."

Lesson: Spending time with family decreases the chances for it to break apart.

Sex Crimes
A few years ago, Swamishri was in London when a lady wrote a letter to him informing him that her husband was watching certain obscene videos online. Swamishri knew this yuvak, and so he kept this letter in his mind.

Once, after he had finished his meal and the yuvaks were coming up in a line to get his ashirvaad, he grabbed the yuvak’s hand and asked him if he watched such obscene videos or not. (Swamishri is
very sharp and extremely straightforward. So once he puts you on the spot, it is hard to get out of the situation.)

The yuvak replied that he did indeed watch those videos.

Hearing this, Swamishri became extremely upset and asked him, “Do you have no understanding? You are lucky that your wife is straightforward. What would have happened if she did such a thing? What would come to be of your wedding? What would your family go through? Do an upvãs, and if you can’t do the upvãs, then tell me and I will do it. Kaaran ke tu maaro kehvaay ne. Aapdaa be ni vachhe koike to Maharaj ne modhu bataadvu padshe ne. (You are mine after all. Between the two of us, someone will have to show their face to Shriji Maharaj.)

On June 11, 1999 in Mumbai, a devotee brought his friend before Swamishri and revealed, "Swami, he has developed a habit of betting on cricket matches."

Swamishri replied, "It is a form of gambling."

The devotee said, "Swami, he also drinks."

Swamishri again replied, "When you have one vice, then many more follow behind it. Do you know that because of gambling the Pandavas lost their kingdom and wife, Draupadi? It is a devastating habit, therefore give it up. You'll become a lot happier in life."

Swamishri's words appealed to the young man, and he pledged to give up his vices.

Bringing it Home
Now going back to our numbers, if we put all those number together, samagam with the Satpurush would have helped 7.6 million people. If we dug deeper and looked at the remaining crimes, the Satpurush's words could have helped them as well - bringing the grand total to 14 million! 

(Think 1 in 20 people! How big are your bal/balika mandals? Helping people think in these terms based on your center can help communicate the point but requires some estimates and/or quick research on your part. For instance, that would mean Akshar & Jagdish would grow up to be a convict - the cute adorable balaks that we play with every week etc.)

In recap, sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to have a yardstick to measure our decisions and lifestyle choices that could end us up in serious trouble. Those that end up as statistics do not

The United Negro College Fund's ads always sport the slogan, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." It's what our gurus have been saying for time immemorial, so let's make it a point to remember them through thought (mansi, vichar), word (prasang varnan), and deed (puja, satsang reading). The more we stay in commune with him, the less we have to worry about falling into any of these societal shortfalls. 

In fact, we won't ever fall short when we sprint successfully. 

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