Friday, September 17, 2010

The Force of Faith (Divyabhav)

To the left, we see baseball, the pastime of Americans, and immediately below it, we see a straw airplane, the pastime of Pacific islanders...

...which brings us to our brief history lesson. After all, no sabha is complete without a trace of trivia! During World War II when the United States was fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, the army established bases on various remote islands.

However, these islands were inhabited by native people who had never seen such tenacious technology like that of the military (e.g. tanks, airplanes). When the war finally ended, the army deserted the islands and destroyed any trace of their short-lived presence there.

The islanders, very much mystified by the fleeting foreigners, did not resume life as normal. In fact, they duplicated a lot of what they saw. They built airplanes out of straw as the one seen above. They built control towers out of wood. It was "monkey see, monkey do" of the military. Anthropologists who visited these islands in the decades that followed were very much amazed by these activities; they called these cultures, "cargo cults."

So this begs the question, "What does it have to do with baseball?" Well, just as anthropologists can study the cultures of different people, they too can study the sport of baseball for its own culture, especially the beliefs held by players. In a paper authored by George Gmelch back in 2000, we see some interesting observations.
  • Former first baseman of the Baltimore Orioles, Glen Davis, would chew the same gum every day during hitting streaks. Where would he put it? His hat. 
  • But for others, it's much more decorative. Take Turk Wendell, former pitcher for the New York Mets. He made his necklace by extracting teeth from the animals he had killed - all in the name of fortune. 
  • And, last but not least (we are going somewhere here other than a trivia overdose) the number three tantalized former Colorado Rockies' right outfielder Larry Walker. Three practice swings he would take before batting. Three minutes past the time to wake up he would set his alarm clock. Third day of November at 3:33PM he married his wife (of course only one)
Our blog post thus far has left us with straw airplanes, ABC gum, an animal-toothed necklace, and three-love, yet a common theme underlies them all.
  • The Pacific islanders satisfied their curiosity through copying the foreigners' activities.
  • The baseball players satisfied their need to succeed through performing ridiculous routines.
  • And from the syllabus, we can learn that even explorer Robert Scott satisfied his ambition through setting off on a dangerous journey.
His example proves quite personal to us given that we too have embarked on this incredible journey of Satsang to attain Akshardham, but the task of navigating falls back to us. In other words, what do we need to do to satisfy our Satsang? We can turn to those who have made this journey before us and learn, "We devotees satisfy our Satsang through faith."

How so? Let's take a look.
  • Himraj Sheth had much to lose, but having faith strengthened his samjan, his Satsang, and secure the raajipo of Shriji Maharaj Himself.
  • Vajibaa of Vijapur had the opportunity to be enamored by an enchanter, but having faith strengthened her samjan, her Satsang, and secure the raajipo of Shriji Maharaj Himself.
  • Even Nityanand Swami had the chance to cut himself loose from Shriji Maharaj, the very individual who he revered as God Himself but also removed him from Satsang, yet his faith in God's intentions carried him through the confusion. (See Satsang Reader 2, p4-5)
And if we take a step back, we see that the initial examples all entail faith. The islanders had faith in the foreigners' activities as worthy of being copied. The players had faith in their routines as worthy of predicting success. Scott had faith in the fruition of his journey as the means to attain his ambition.

So where does that leave us? Every endeavor imaginable requires that we put forth a fistful of faith.

Thus, let's cultivate this ingredient so integral to the recipe for success - in Satsang and in society.

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