Thursday, April 28, 2011

Progress through Patience

This week, we explore the theme of dhiraj (patience) in kishore-kishori sabha. Let's put our patience to practice by preparing for this upcoming presentation.

Step 1: Synthesize the simple statement - the message we want the audience to retain.
  • Mastering patience will help us master life.
  • Patience is the mother of all virtues.
  • Patience is the path to earning raajipo. 

Step 2: Start with the shakeup. Break expectations with an example of patience
  • Zen Master - This example in the syllabus provides a strong segway into the topic itself.
  • College Reject - Max applied to two colleges - Stanford and University of California-Berkeley; he got rejected from the first (his dream school) and accepted by the latter for the spring, not the fall. Instead of crying foul or accepting the result, he wrote a blog post about how he was going to get into Stanford and ended up being accepted the following year. The juicy details about how he did it make this story all the more interesting to hear.
  • One Elephant vs. Pack of Lions - We can only imagine the odds of how this battle would pan out in the end, yet this elephant defied the odds through its patience. Watch (6:45-8:45) as how two wildlife photographers shot this amazing footage in Africa one cold and seemingly cruel night.  

Step 3: Support the simple statement with stories filled with detail and credibility. This step requires that we choose a simple statement to serve as the cornerstone of our presentation; if we skip this part, then our presentation will be in shambles. For the examples below, we chose to link to the first simple statement, "Mastering patience will help us master life."
  • The Addict - Pramukh Swami Maharaj sought to help Atul conquer his addiction which morphed from heroin to opium to alcohol. We have to wonder why Swamishri would waste his time and energy counseling someone who drifted from one drug to another when he could easily spent that time and energy showering his compassion on what we would consider more deserving haribhakto. Still, Swamishri did not give up because he knew that in conquering his addiction, Atul would develop the patience that would sustain him through any other difficulty in life. Drugs alter our brain chemistry, and to rewire our brains to overcome these issues would indeed require developing a strong sense of patience - one that would inevitably come in handy again for Atul as he came across future difficulties.
  • Patience = Opportunity - In the January 2011 issue of Swaminarayan Bliss (p.5-6), we see a counter-example; Shriji Maharaj did not lose his patience with Dada Khachar even when he failed to understand Maharaj's warning that he was in danger. We all know the story of Chicken Little and how frustrated he may have felt with trying to communicate to others the coming of the end - the same feeling we would predict to be running through Maharaj who was God Himself trying to protect one of His most beloved devotees. However, the fact that He does not lose his patience reveals to us one way patience helps us master life - by giving us the opportunity to appreciate others. Muktanand Swami expresses this sentiment in comparing Dada Khachar's apparent apathy with that of Arjun's state of serenity; both lost their desires and sense of being in the presence of God. While we may be tempted to lose our patience with others, we fail to see their virtues and in doing so feel our life to be disheartening as we let our impatience fester. Moreover, Shriji Maharaj does lose his patience with Jiva Khachar, an individual who fails to appreciate Dada Khachar's true nature. He goes so far as to devalue all that Jiva Khachar performed in the way of seva - the cost of scheming against a fellow devotee. 
  • Mango Trees - In the January 2011 issue of Swaminarayan Bliss (p.18), P. Mahant Swami noted that Yogiji Maharaj blessed two mango trees for doing penance for 10,000 years at one devotee's farm. To perform a focused puja every morning proves to be a difficult task in and of itself, yet to perform penance for so long is truly remarkable. In performing this penance, those jivas not only mastered patience but also the punya needed to attain the Satpurush. Again, we see how patience helps us master life, for we need the Satpurush's blessings to make this our final one.
In short, patience plays a powerful role in what we do at mandir. Nurturing and mentoring our fellow haribhakto requires that we continue chipping away at complacency and creating an environment for growth. All that falls on how well we communicate, which is why patience is integral to our ability to present and execute an excellent sabha.

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