Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Activity vs Accomplishment the Key to Pravrutti.

Logic will not change emotion, action will.

The very hungry caterpillar has been in heavy rotation for bed time reading at our house this last year. Kids (and grown ups who are kids at heart) are fascinated by these creature. It could be the voracious appetite, the metamorphosis, the ability to observe a life cycle or simply the neon green color - caterpillars seem to capture our imagination.

John-Henri Fabre, the great French entomologist and naturalist, was also facinated by caterpillars - specifically processionary caterpillar. He conducted a most unusual experiment with some processionary caterpillars which he captured in his essay "The life of a caterpillar." These caterpillars blindly follow the one in front of them, hence, the name. Fabre carefully arranged the caterpillars in a circle around the rim of a flowerpot, so that the lead caterpillar actually touched the last one, making a complete circle. In the center of the flowerpot he put pine needles, which is the preferred food of the processionary caterpillar. The caterpillars started walking around this circular flowerpot.

Around and around they went, hour after hour, day after day, night after night. For seven full days and seven full nights, they went around the flowerpot. Finally, they dropped dead of starvation and exhaustion. With an abundance of food less than six inches away, they literally starved to death. They confused activity with accomplishment.

And this leads us to this weeks Yuvati sabha syllabus topic - pravrutti. Pravrutti is an action. As we stated in the beginning actions are powerful, they can change emotion, they can do things that logic simply cannot. However as we see in the experiment of Fabre - there are different types of action. There are different types of pravrutti. Any pravrutti we do if we keep Maharaj and Swami in our mind it is elevated to bhakti. Conversely any seva we do if we do not keep Maharaj and Swami in our minds it is just work - us walking around in a circle when our food of choice is just a few inches away.

Uka Kacher cleaned the path leading to the sabha hall and Maharaj embraced him and said he was the "owner of the house." The take away here is more than we should clean the parking lot in the Mandir - we should definitely do this, but do so while keeping Maharaj and Swami in our heart and mind. This is liberating since any pravrutti we do can be elevated to bhakti. Studying can become bhakti. Reading bedtime stories to our kids becomes bhakti. Writing a report for work becomes bhakti. It is a subtle idea and as with such ideas not a simple one to implement. But it is definitely worth trying.

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