Thursday, May 27, 2010

Antardrashti: Guided by the GPS

Ever heard of magnetotactic bacteria? These bacteria exist in the environment but orient themselves along the Earth's magnetic lines, meaning they can accurately follow the magnetic field. Here are a bunch of them in a storage container; notice how ALL of them move together as the magnetic field is reversed from the outside of the container.

Why does this happen? Let's take a look at one of these critters (on the right), Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum.

Notice the line of beads present in the bacteria? These beads are called magnetosomes. They're basically iron mineral crystals that exist in each bacteria and magnetize the bacteria so it responds strongly to any magnetic field.

To recap, these magnetosomes guide these bacteria along the Earth's magnetic lines. We can liken them to a bacterial GPS.

This week, we're looking at the age-old concept of antardrashti, and we're asked to present this concept in an unique light - as our GPS. Basically, introspection is our GPS to orient ourselves on the path to success - be it both in and out of Satsang.

The examples provided in the presentation, including the prasang of Govindanand Swami help us understand and grasp the importance of this concept. To drive the point home, we can refer to this month's issue of Nilkanth and the article entitled, "Analyze Yourself," provides us with a specific way on how put antardrashti into action - the perfect framework for an activity.
  1. Collect - Have each individual list one precise activity that they wish they could be better at in Satsang (e.g. reading Vachanamrut daily, singing chesta) or school (e.g. daily reading, regular SAT prep). The keyword is precise; vaguely worded activities, like "improving samjan" or "better grades," defeat the purpose of the activity.
  2. Analyze - Now ask individuals how they measure whether or not they do that activity. In other words, how do we keep track of our progress towards that activity? Most likely, they won't have anything, so use the article to give examples of ways they can record and keep track of their progress & regress (e.g. schedule, checklist). There are plenty of sites out there to help us keep track of goals, like Joe's Goals or even Remember the Milk.
  3. Act - Finally, it's now up to everyone to make their plan of action happen. Emphasize that only through regular upkeep will we accomplish our activities, meaning that skipping around won't accomplish what we sought out to do. 
For instance, if we want to start singing chesta, we could create an account on Joe's Goals and keep track of it. While we may have a rough start...

...regular upkeep will result in improvement.

In short, we have the resources and know-how. It just now depends on how fast we let the GPS recalculate our path to align with Satsang. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Humility: Opening Our Eyes

With summer rolling around, we may enjoy spending time outdoors under the sun while catching the fleeting breeze. Taking in the natural scenery around us, we could hope not to miss the life bustling about, especially the lone ant scouring about for food.

The ant is one of nature's most famous explorers. How else can it hope to find that treasure of treats locked away in our kitchens? Exploration also happens to be an interesting trait we share with our insect brethren. Columbus sailed the ocean blues in 1492. The United States put the first man on the moon in 1969. History is full of many more examples as we love to explore.

So let's put on our explorer hats for today's sabha. Start off by having everyone recount something they experienced for the first time recently. It can be a new car, a new sport, a new video game - whatever - but have them write briefly about how they felt about the experience on a sheet of paper.

Upon sharing, we find that exploration encompasses enthusiasm. When we are in explorer mode, we are excited. We are so energetic that we can take on the world. We beget boredom - nothing can drop our motivation!

Now here's a crazy idea - what if we could...
  • ...cultivate this attitude and forever rid ourselves of being bored? 
  • ...forever remain motivated?
  • ...never feel constrained by our complacency?
The answer lies in humility, in humbling ourselves to the world around us. The enthusiasm we reflected upon in the activity can be recreated if we just mold our attitude accordingly.

For instance, let's flash forward to Monday morning. With what mindset do we start our day?
  • Do we feel ecstatic about the day to come - energized to tackle any challenge and learn new things?
  • Or do we just feel exhausted that we have to make it through yet another day?
When we humble ourselves to the world around us, we put on the explorer's hat. We treat everyday as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. We become grateful for what others have to share with us rather than just simply shrugging it off. We become passionate for the problems we encounter rather than fall into a pit of pessimism.

Let's look at an example.

Our friends from Sesame Street, Bert and Ernie present this principle well. While Bert held out initially from exploring Ernie's activity, only when he shed his ego and humbled himself did he find enjoyment! He came to understand the fun garnered from just simple imagination. 

We can tie this back to our gurus. Why do you think Yogiji Maharaj or even Pramukh Swami Maharaj take so much interest in us? Their humility is as its height; everyday is full of excitement, energy, and enthusiasm. Though they are the epitome of enlightenment, they humble themselves before all and feel the explorer's  elation in every moment.

So to become like the Energizer Bunny, we must become the explorer. Humility is thus defined.