The concept of gun-grahak drashti hails from the Vachanamrut (i.e. Shriji Maharaj's time) throughout our lineage of gurus culminating today in Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Is it any wonder that it resurfaces at such a high frequency in sabha? Let's take a crack at it this week.
Step 1: Crafting the simple statement. Below are some ideas taken from the syllabus.
- Fixating on the flaws of others creates more flaws within us.
- In the virtues of others lies our strategies to succeed.
- Attributing faults to others is really attributing fault to Maharaj & Swami.
Step 2: Starting with the shakeup.
- Knockoff Sunglasses: Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and the Upside of Irrationality, did an experiment in which individuals were asked to wear either designer sunglasses or the fake versions of them and then asked to describe what they thought of other people. Interestingly enough, those who wore the fake versions were more likely to think other people were being fake around them. We take faults of others, but are these faults truly intrinsic to the individual or rather an illusion of our own imperfection? The video below describes the full experiment though the part mentioned above is explained at 3:40.
- Odds & Evens: Give everyone 30 seconds to look at the following image and ask them to memorize the odd numbers. Now, hide the picture and ask someone to say out loud all the even numbers (or all the numbers on a blue square). Most people are like these numbers, they have habits and behaviors that we either like or dislike. Our minds tend to focus on what annoys us and in short time we become blind to others good qualities, or the bad qualities start creeping into ourselves.
- Dealing with Death: Stephen Covey is the well known author of The 7 Habits for Successful People series of books. In his introduction, he gives the following example. He was travelling in a subway when a man got on with his two sons. The children start misbehaving by running every which way and create a nuisance for people on the train. Finally, this bedlam irritates Covey enough to ask the father why he does not do something to control his kids. The father replies, "We just got back from the hospital where their mother died. I don't know how to handle it, and I guess they don't either." Suddenly, we see everything in a different manner - thus the power of gun grahak drashti.
Step 3: Finding the concrete and credible examples. The syllabus is a source of such examples, but we must take the extra steps to narrate them well and to link them back to our original simple statement. As an example, we chose to go with the third statement.
- The Mirror of Erised - Just as the mirror enables an individual to visualize their desire, what would we see when we peer into the mirror and perceive flaws/virtues in others? See what the audience has to say. In fact, when we desire to take faults of others, we should expect to see our faces strained with sadness though the mirror may not show it's out of reacting to the injury we caused Maharaj & Swami. On the flip side, when we desire to take the virtues of others, we should expect to see our faces resplendent with joy though the mirror may not show it's out of reacting to the satisfaction expressed by Maharaj & Swami.
- The Four Fools - To create curiosity with this story, stop after the part where Akbar tells the king he found the four fools. Ask the audience how this can be true if the only four people in that room were the two fools, Akbar, and the king; after all, would the clever and intelligent Akbar insult his name or even that of the king by failing to produce four fools? Then, reveal Akbar's answer that the four people in the room were indeed the fools. When we take faults of others, we're like Akbar when he was looking for the four fools, but in reality, we're also making a fool of the king (Maharaj & Swami) and Akbar (ourselves). Thus, the hallmark of our high intelligence - the one that Maharaj & Swami imparted in us with human birth - is to note the virtues in others around us. They're the hidden treasures waiting to be discovered by the clever.
- Oil Tycoons - J.D. Rockefeller was able to look over a loss of $2 million for those glittering gem-like gunas of his fellow executive, but what if he didn't and instead made a list of that individual's faults? Ask the audience what they think Rockefeller would stand to gain/lose from such a perspective. Aside from losing the money, he would have also lost his friendship and ignored all the great things his friends contributed to the company. His ego would be the only thing to gain. That's why Rockefeller acted in the nobler way and reiterated the Swami ni Vaat. Maharaj & Swami equipped us all with a set of virtues to contribute to the world around us - be it company, community, etc.. When we ignore this principle and see only the faults, we express our ignorance and insult their divine methodology.
In short, gun-grahak drashti is a concept that can seem out-of-touch with our audience, one that might be veiled in idealism. Nevertheless, it's a concept made practical for us by our gurus and haribhakto from the past, so let's prepare and present accordingly - in the positive sense of course!