Humanity - what a pity!
The fallacies of humankind seem so obvious these days. I know you must be wondering why this blog opens with a crib. Well, recently I was in a situation where everyone around me seeemed so 'tolerant' of being adharmic. This set me to wonder if the world has come to accept Adharma or unrighteous conduct as a way of life.
Let me now narrate what I once heard a very senior devotee share with all of us when I was a student in the Sri Sathya Sai University. This devotee was then serving as the Vice Chancellor of the university and Swami had taken him along with Himself to a devotee's house in His car. During the car ride, this senior devotee asked Swami, "Swami, there is so much of strife, violence, killings and wrong things happening in the world. Why is this so?" Apparently, Swami did not respond and just looked out of the window. The conversation ended right there. The next day, Swami was to come out for darshan and as usual all devotees - a few thousands - were waiting for Swami in pindrop silence. This senior devotee was also among those who were waiting in the hall. Suddenly, the silence was shattered by a baby's wail. This obviously disturbed this devotee as it did all others in the hall which was silent till then. A few minutes later, Swami came out for darshan and glided among the devotees blessing all as usual. After darshan, this senior devotee had the privelege of going into Swami's residence for lunch. At the lunch table, Swami asked this devotee, "Did you notice what happened before Swami came out for darshan?"
There have been many stories in the past which illustrate a way to stick to Dharma and yet be able to work your way through. Yet, everyone seems to have a threshold limit defined for oneself after which adharma seems acceptable. Let me give an example - There was once a doctor by name Dr.Bose who was treating a case of terminal cancer. The patient was a 14 year old young lad. As a doctor, Dr. Bose knew that Raghu, the patient would not survive for more than a month. Yet, when Raghu asked Dr. Bose, "Doctor, will I recover?", the doctor said, "Oh Raghu, don't worry. You will be perfectly fine."
Consider this example, the doctor obviously held a threshold for himself beyond which lying to a patient seemed alright to him.
Dharma is very subtle in nature. It is extremely difficult to decide on the right course of action. I was once going on a bike as a pillion rider with another friend. For some strange reason, this friend of mine thought it was perfectly alright to jump a signal. This friend was in his senses, knew what is right or wrong and yet chose to do what is wrong, even after I had warned him. This case seemed fairly straightforward, isn't it. Now, consider this - we were going to donate blood to a patient who was in urgent need of blood. The signals would delay our journey and hence this boy took recourse to jumping the signal. Does this now change our perception of right and wrong?
Dharma - like I said - is extremely subtle. I think somewhere people have by and large put aside the importance of what Swami - Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba - used to aptly call 'Desha kala paristhiti prabhavaa' meaning the effect of the place, time and situation. These play a major role in determining the dharma for that situation.
But how does one make that call? Increasing incidents of violence - justified by adhering to a book, a precept, sectarian authoritativeness or even individual ego problems seem to be on the rise. This sets me to wonder where we, humanity as a whole, are heading. People today don't seem to care about pollution, global warming, violence, bloodshed, bombings, disrespect for fellow beings, cruelty to animals etc etc....the list goes on.
Let me now change the tonality of this blog - which so far has been fairly pessimistic. I am reminded of the story of Appolo and the Oracle - from the Greek mythology. The story goes like this:
In ancient Greece, the Greeks built many, many temples. They believed each temple they built should honor only one god, no matter how big or elaborate the temple. Some cities built more than one temple to honor the same god.
Apollo enjoyed having temples built in his honor. He liked the gifts. He liked the attention. Everyone knew that Apollo was the god of music. He also brought out the sun each day. He had other special powers. Apollo could see the future, not always, but sometimes. Everyone wanted to know the future. So Apollo's temples were busy places, full of people full of questions about their future. His temples were so busy, in fact, that the stream of visitors asking him questions wore him out.
Apollo decided he needed an assistant, a wise woman, an oracle. An oracle, in ancient Greece, was someone who could see the future. But Apollo did not want any old oracle to speak for him. He wanted a real one. But there weren't any real ones, not really. The oracles he had met always had vague answers.
For example, if you asked an oracle if you should plant your garden tomorrow, they might say "the frost will be gone if the gods will it." Not really helpful.
Apollo had the power to magically make someone truly see the future, just as he could. But Apollo didn't want to take the fun out of things. So Apollo set some ground rules for his oracle. He would use his magic to allow her to truly see the future. Apollo's rules stated that she had to tell the truth, but she could not be too specific. That would allow the possibility of misunderstanding. That would make it fun!
Apollo magically turned a young priestess into a real oracle. He magically built a special temple for her home. He magically told a few people here and there about his wonderful oracle.
It did not take long for the word to spread. People came from all over to ask Apollo's oracle a question. People had heard she could really see the future and could only tell the truth.
One day, a weary king came to the temple. He asked Apollo's oracle if he would win the battle. She smiled and told him a great king would win the battle. That was exactly what he had wanted to hear. He went away happy, leaving many gifts for the oracle behind him.
When he led his men into battle, they lost. The king was killed. But people still flocked to Apollo's oracle. They knew she had told the truth. She had to tell the truth. What a pity the king had not listened.
The story tells us something very very important. The lesson is that 'we hear what we want to'. The amount of negative news, negative talk and negative work that we tend to focus on is perhaps what shows all of humanity in such a negative hue.
The devotee replied, "Yes Swami. All of us were silently praying for you to come."
Swami said, "And?"..."Did you all continue to be silent?"
The devotee remembered what happened that morning and said, "No Swami. There was a baby who cried and the silence was disturbed."
Swami said, "Is that all? Did you not notice anything else?"
The devotee replied, "No Swami."
Swami then said, "As soon as the baby started to cry, everyone's attention went towards the baby. All the people looked in the direction from which the noise came. Is that not so?"
"Of course Swami" said the devotee.
Swami said, "That is the answer to the question you asked me yesterday. The reason why you find so much of disturbance, violence, hatred and confusion in the world is because those are the elements making all the noise. Hence people pay attention to only that. Good work also happens in plenty. There are plenty of good people. There are many who are following the path of Dharma. But, no one talks about them. Hence, they are not noticed. Good and bad have always existed. The one that is noticed is the one that makes more noise."
This conversation was the inspiration for this great devotee to start the RadioSai channel. The point however is that no matter what is 'dharmic', what is important is to pay attention to the good part. In the opening of the blog, I was mentioning the subtlety of dharma. In my humble opinion, dharma needs to be defined as per the place, time and situation. However, there is an absolute dharma - that of selfless love, of purity of intent and goodness.
Sarvaih Loka Hitai Rataha!!