Thursday, January 12, 2012

Case Study: 100-Year Thought Experiment

Last week, kishore/kishori mandal kicked off 2012 with their first priority sabha with the intent to practice preparing and planning for an excellent sabha, a model for the other sabhas throughout the rest of the year.

A fellow Sabhaologist sent us an example of one way in which they made their topic, “Analyzing their Relationship with the Satpurush,” resonate with the audience without using any of the activities. We have nothing against activities, but this example demonstrates merely how matter elevates a presentation from mundane to memorable.

The presenter started off with his shakeup: Intertwine your arms such that one hand rests on the other. Depending on your handedness (left vs. right), different outcomes were to be expected. The presenter then asked for everyone to switch hands much to the discomfort of the audience members.

"In the first orientation, our body was in sync whereas in the latter it was not."

Individual Protection

Then, he dropped his simple statement: We want to be in sync with the Satpurush.

Following up, he presented an example of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and his morning puja. He asked, “What does Swamishri do before his puja?”

One hand shot up: “He wishes everyone gathered with folded hands, 'Jai Swaminarayan.'"

Bingo: We notice such details when we are sync with the Satpurush.

Example #2: Nearly two centuries ago, cultural notions saw nothing evil with slavery, utilizing the labors of others without necessarily paying them. That same idea does not stand firm nearly two hundred years later, but a few days ago, one collector decided to auction off seemingly mundane items collected from the Titanic. The value pegged at these items numbered in the millions, but why?

Why do people value items from the Titanic?

And on each kishores’ face appeared the puzzled look reflective of deep thought – an indicator of a well-designed question.

  1. One kishore ventured to answer, “Well, the Titanic was seemingly unsinkable, but it still sunk.”
  2. Another responded, “Anything historical sells.”
  3. A third chimed, “It’s history, so yeah, it’s worth a lot.”

The first kishore hit the mark, but now the presenter threw the mother of all monkey wrenches:

"Even though we look back 200 years ago and wonder how and why people can profit of others’ misfortune with slavery, here we are in 2012 doing the very same thing."

"Perhaps items from the Titanic may be of value even if had not sunk, but the fact that it did sink made it a legend and an object worthy of study in the century following its demise."

But the greatest strategy of the presenter was where he went from this point by helping the hero.

“Now, let’s turn our attention to 100 years into the future – 2112. What new cultural thought will shift? Will it be a constitutional amendment outlawing eating meat? Perhaps society will see the harm of consuming onion and garlic? It can be any one of the other niyams prescribed by Shriji Maharaj in the Shikshapatri, but it’s also where we enter the picture.”

“Let’s think about it. There are 20-25 kishores in this sabha, and with about 50 other mandals in North America, we can estimate total 1,000 kishores who are hearing this message today. Of course, if each of us talks to even 5 people during the week about our beliefs, we hit 5,000, and when we factor in the 8 years we are in kishore mandal, the math really takes off. “

“Shaping cultural acceptance is not as far-fetched as we think, and we can achieve it when we strive to be in sync with our guru. How cool would it to be a part of a movement that has an impact long after our lives? It's all possible when we are in sync with the Satpurush.”

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