Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Smoldering Log

This week, as we explore Vachanamrut Gadhada I-28, we may initially have some doubts given its relatively short length. However, it's really a chance to appreciate Shriji Maharaj's skill of packaging profound points into portions attuned to the audience at hand. Let's head to the drawing board to make these points come alive.

Step 1: Synthesizing the simple statement. Below are some ideas taken from the syllabus.
  • Introspection is the tool that strengthens agna and upasana.
  • Satsang is a tool that can lead to our self-improvement.
  • By not seeing our faults, we also fail to see others' virtues.
  • Criticizing others can consume us just like a wildfire.
Step 2: Starting with the shakeup.
  • The Fury of Fire: Accustomed to doing arti, we may not often understand the true power of the flame as it is confined to the divo. However, without these constraints, the true power of fire can be realized much to our own fear and anxiety as this cameraman came to learn. Though it may appear to be a some risk-taking amateur, we may fail to notice a subtle feature at 0:30. Sure, he begins to retreat because the fire's rapid advance lightly burns him. Shriji Maharaj's smoldering log metaphor could not be anymore ingenious, for from an innocuous ember is a fire unleashed - one that has no discretion in consuming all that lies in its path. In the video, it's wildgrass; in our case, it's our fellow satsangis. 

  • The Overachieving Octopus: Humankind is often regarded as "the most intelligent lifeform" on this planet though we may question this conclusion when we see nature firsthand. Animals can provide a great surprise, like the tale of this tool-wielding octopus. Similarly, those who we way often disregard in Satsang can often teach us lessons we may have never thought of before.
  • Sound Guy Neck Crane: Here's an example of something that may have taken route in our normal mandir routine but demonstrates the principle perfectly. Sometimes, it's just better to acknowledge the atheist A/V equipment then to take the abhaav-avgun of our fellow satsangis.
  • Last but not least, any of last week's examples can be used just as easily.
Step 3: Connecting with 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 fourth statement to better emphasize Shriji Maharaj's metaphor of the smoldering log.
  • Smoldering Log - Shriji Maharaj recognized that while no fire may be manifest, it remains dormant within the log gaining strength by the second. When it gains enough strength, it bursts forth from the log into a flame before it requires another log to thrive. Thus, the flame becomes a fire and gains speed and strength as it continues to consume all that exists around it. When we unfairly criticize others, we too feed this fire until it consumes us and pollutes our perception. It ravages within us to the point that we are reduced to the ashes of our own anger and arrogance. In this state of mind, is it any wonder the seed of Satsang fails to sprout from within?
  • Budho Dhadhal - Here's a perfect example of someone who let the fire consume not just himself but those around him - the venerated Dada Khachar, Muktanand Swami, and even Shriji Maharaj. Once again, a fierce fire makes no distinction between what it consumes. 
  • Painting the Murti - Here the father criticized the son, but why did the relationship not get consumed by the fire of fault-finding? While the father criticized his son, it was for his son's betterment and not to feed the father's ego. In Satsang, we may find criticism unbearable, but we can fight the fire if we receive that criticism as a source for our own self-improvement. After all, those who offer us unfair criticism stand only to be consumed by their own fire. Do we wish to partake in their self-destruction by retaliating against them with more criticism?
As we can see, the metaphors employed by Shriji Maharaj add an extra layer of vivid detail to what we would consider an otherwise colorless concept. Let's resolve to use this wisdom to drench the fire of fault-finding, especially since we only stand to lose from it. 

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