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Ganesha Chaturthi
Lord Ganesha is the elephant-headed God. He is worshipped first in any prayers. His Names are repeated first before any auspicious work is begun, before any kind of worship is begun. He is the Lord of power and wisdom. He is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and the elder brother of Skanda or Kartikeya. He is the energy of Lord Shiva and so He is called the son of Shankar and Umadevi. By worshipping Lord Ganesha mothers hope to earn for their sons the sterling virtues of Ganesha.
His birth and how He came to have the head of an elephant:
Once upon a time, the Goddess Gauri (consort of Lord Shiva), while bathing, created Ganesha as a pure white being out of the mud of Her Body and placed Him at the entrance of the house. She told Him not to allow anyone to enter while she went inside for a bath. Lord Shiva Himself was returning home quite thirsty and was stopped by Ganesha at the gate. Shiva became angry and cut off Ganesha’s head as He thought Ganesha was an outsider.
When Gauri came to know of this she was sorely grieved. To console her grief, Shiva ordered His servants to cut off and bring to Him the head of any creature that might be sleeping with its head facing north. The servants went on their mission and found only an elephant in that position. The sacrifice was thus made and the elephant’s head was brought before Shiva. The Lord then joined the elephant’s head onto the body of Ganesha.
Lord Shiva made His son worthy of worship at the beginning of all undertakings, marriages, expeditions, studies, etc. He ordained that the annual worship of Ganesha should take place on the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadrapada.
Without the Grace of Sri Ganesha and His help nothing whatsoever can be achieved. No action can be undertaken without His support, Grace or blessing.
Common Names of Lord Ganesha:
Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom and bliss. He is the Lord of Brahmacharins. He is foremost amongst the celibates. He has as his vehicle a small mouse. He is the presiding Deity of the Muladhara Chakra, the psychic centre in the body in which the Kundalini Shakti resides.
The significance of riding on a mouse is the complete conquest over egoism. The holding of the ankusha represents His rulership of the world. It is the emblem of divine Royalty.
Ganesha is the first God. Riding on a mouse, one of nature’s smallest creatures and having the head of an elephant, the biggest of all animals, denotes that Ganesha is the creator of all creatures. Elephants are very wise animals; this indicates that Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom. It also denotes the process of evolution—the mouse gradually evolves into an elephant and finally becomes a man. This is why Ganesha has a human body, an elephant’s head and a mouse as His vehicle. This is the symbolic philosophy of His form.
The Vaishnavas also worship Lord Ganesha. They have given Him the name of Tumbikkai Alwar which means the divinity with the proboscis (the elephant’s trunk). Lord Ganesha’s two powers are the Kundalini and the Vallabha or power of love.
He is very fond of sweet pudding or balls of rice flour with a sweet core. On one of His birthdays He was going around house to house accepting the offerings of sweet puddings. Having eaten a good number of these, He set out moving on His mouse at night. Suddenly the mouse stumbled—it had seen a snake and became frightened—with the result that Ganesha fell down. His stomach burst open and all the sweet puddings came out. But Ganesha stuffed them back into His stomach and, catching hold of the snake, tied it around His belly.
Seeing all this, the moon in the sky had a hearty laugh. This unseemly behaviour of the moon annoyed Him immensely and so he pulled out one of His tusks and hurled it against the moon, and cursed that no one should look at the moon on the Ganesh Chaturthi day. If anyone does, he will surely earn a bad name, censure or ill-repute. However, if by mistake someone does happen to look at the moon on this day, then the only way he can be freed from the curse is by repeating or listening to the story of how Lord Krishna cleared His character regarding the Syamantaka jewel. This story is quoted in the Srimad Bhagavatam.
Once Ganesha & His brother Lord Subramanya had a dispute. The matter was referred to Lord Shiva for final decision. Shiva decided that whoever would make a tour of the whole world and come back first to the starting point had the right to be the elder. Subramanya flew off at once on his vehicle, the peacock, to make a circuit of the world. But the wise Ganesha went, in loving worshipfulness, around His divine parents and asked for the prize of His victory.
Lord Shiva said, “Beloved and wise Ganesha! But how can I give you the prize; you did not go around the world?”
Ganesha replied, “No, but I have gone around my parents. My parents represent the entire manifested universe!”
Thus the dispute was settled in favour of Lord Ganesha, who was thereafter acknowledged as the elder of the two brothers. Mother Parvati also gave Him a fruit as a prize for this victory.
On the Ganesh Chaturthi day, meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha early in the morning, during the Brahmamuhurta period. Then, after taking a bath, go to the temple and do the prayers of Lord Ganesha. Offer Him some coconut and sweet pudding. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship Him at home, too. You can get the assistance of a pundit. Have an image of Lord Ganesha in your house. Feel His Presence in it.
Take fresh spiritual resolves and pray to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength to attain success in all your undertakings.
May the blessings of Sri Ganesha be upon you all! May He remove all the obstacles that stand in your spiritual path! May He bestow on you all material prosperity as well as liberation!
* Vighna vinaayaka paada namasthe
First light the lamps.
Place the Ganesh idol or Photo frame facing the East or West. But not facing the South. Apply sandal paste and kumkum on the forehead, palms and feet and then garland with flowers.
Ring the bell as you chant the following mantra :
   preetheyartham, karishya manasya karmanaha nirvignam
Pour a spoonful of water on your palms, wipe them and say :
Aavahanam (Invoking the God) - Place left palm on the centre of the chest and with                                                  the right palm touch the feet of the idol (or frame)                                                  simultaneously and chant the mantra :
Aasanam - After chanting the following mantra, offer one flower or tulsi leaf :
Paadhyam and snaanam : Offer one spoon of water into a plate or bowl after                                        chanting each line of following mantra :-
Vastram, Upavitham and Aabharanam - After chanting each mantra, offer akshata                                                            (rice) with flowers or tulsi leaf:
Chandanam - Apply sandalpaste on the forehead of the idol (or photoframe) and chant
Kumkum - Apply kumkum on top of the sandal paste and chant :
Akshata - offer some akshata (rice) and chant.
Pushpam - offer some flowers and chant :
Now you have invoked Lord Ganesh for the Pooja, and you are ready for the Pushpaanjali and naamavali (praising the Lord by his different names) After each of the following mantra offer a flower :
Dhoop : Light two agarbattis and show it to the Lord accompanied by the ringing of the             bell and chat.
Deepam: (Optional) If you have lit a small accompanying lamp, show it to the Lord               accompanied by ringing of bell. If not, just continue with agarbathi and say :
Naivedyam : Keep the prasadam (coconut fruits, kheer etc.) in a plate before the                    Lord, put Tulsi leaves on it close your eyes and chant the mantra offering                    mentally the naivedyam to the Lord.
Take 2 spoonful of water on your right palm, drip the water drops around the prasadam chanting :
Take 2 drops and drop thru the palm on your right side near prasadam chanting:
Now, make gesture of offering prasadam to the Lord, chanting :
Drop 2 drops of water thru right palm on right side of naivedyam saying :
Then put Tulsi leaves or flowers at the feet of the Lord after chanting :
Light the Aarti (camphor) and show it to the Lord accompanied by ringing of the bell and the following mantra.
Take 2 spoonful of water in your right palm and let it drop in the plate in front and say :
offer flowers or Tulsi saying :
Prostrate before the Lord and exit.
Bhaja Govindam
Adhi Shankaracharya wrote a number of vedantic works for imparting knowledge of the self and the universal spirit. He also composed a number of hymns to foster Bhakthi in the hearts of men. One of these hymns is the famous Bhaja govindaM. The way of devotion, is not different from the way of knowledge or gnyana. When intelligence matures and lodges securely in the mind, it becomes wisdom. When wisdom is integrated with life and issues out in action, it becomes bhakthi. Knowledge, when it becomes fully mature is bhakthi. If it doesnot get transformed into bhakthi, such knowledge is [useless tinsel|http://www.carnatic.com/kishore/life/]. To believe that gnyana and bhakthi, knowledge and devotion are different from each other, is ignorance. If Sri Adi Shankara himself who drank the ocean of gnyana as easily as one sip water from the palm of one's hand, sang in his later years, hymns to develop devotion, it is enough to show that gnyana and bhakthi are one and the same. Sri Shankara has packed into the Bhaja govindaM song: the substance of all vedanta, and set the oneness of gnyana and bhakthi to melodious music.
Bhaja govindaM is one of the minor compositions of the spiritual gaint, Adi SHANKARA. It is classified as a Prakarana grantha, a primer to the major works. Though sung as a bhajan, it contains the essence of vedanta and awakens the man to think, "Why am I here in this life ? Why am I amassing wealth, family, but have no peace ? What is the Truth ? What is the purpose of life ?" Man is thus awakened and gets set on a path to the inner road back to God.
The background of Bhaja GovindaM is worth examining. During Shankara's stay in Kashi, he noticed a very old man engaged in the early hours studying the rules of sanskrit by Panini. Shankara was touched with pity seeing the plight of the old man spending his years at a mere intellectual accomplishment while he would be better off praying and spending time to control his mind. Shankara understood that the majority of the world was also engaged in mere intellectual, sense pleasures and not in the divine contemplation. Seeing this, he burst forth with the verses of Bhaja govindaM.
In 31 (some cite 33) verses, he, like no other, explains our fallacies, our wrong outlook for life, and dispells our ignorance and delusions. Thus bhaja govindaM was originally known as Moha Mudgara, the remover of delusions.
Shankara explains, nay chides, us for spending our time in useless trivia like amassing wealth, lusting after (wo)men and requests us to discriminate and cultivate the knowledge to learn the difference between the real and the unreal. To emphasize that all knowledge other than Self-Knowledge is useless, Shankara makes the man realize how foolish he is in his conduct and behavior by these verses, and shows him the purpose of our worldly existence, which is to seek Govinda and attain Him.
Bhaja govindaM is divided into dvaadasa manjarika stotram and chaturdasa manjarika stotram. At the end of composing the first stanza, it is said that Shankara burst forth with the next 12 stanzas of bhaja govindam. Thus stanzas 1-12 are called dvaadas manjarika stotram. Inspired by the extempore recital by Shankara, each of his 14 disciples composed a verse and the 14 verse compendium is called chaturdasa manjarika stotram. Shankara added the finishing touches by adding five of his own stanzas at the last bring the total to 31. This edition shows 33 verses, though the last 2 are not given in all versions.
Bhaja govindaM has been set to musical tones and sung as prayer songs by children. It is divided into dvaadashapaJNjarikaa and charpaTapaJNjarikaa for this purpose. The former is a set of verses (verses 1,2,5,11,18,20,21,23,27,29,31) while the rest of the verses form charpaTapaJNjarikaa.
Anyone who listens to the music of Bhaja govindaM is attracted to it. However, the significance of the text goes much deeper and contains a well defined philosophy of attaining salvation. Shankara words here seem to be quite piercing and seem to lack his softness and tenderness often found in his other texts. The reason is that this was an extempore recital to an old man. His words can be compared to a knife of a doctor. The doctor's knife cruely removes the tumor with much pain, but removing the tumor ultimately restores good health in the patient. So is Shankara's words, which pierce and point out our ignorance. It is a knife into the heart of worldliness, and by removing this tumor of ignorance, we can attain everlasting bliss with the grace of Govinda.
May the acharayaa guide us from ignorance to truth and help us remember the song of Swami Vivekananda at all times :
Meditate, O my mind, on the Lord Hari,
The stainless One, Pure spirit through and through.
How peerless is the Light that in Him shines !
That shames the splendour of a million moons
Like lightning gleams the glory of His form
Raising erect the hair for very joy
Worship his feet in the lotus of your heart
Caught in the spell of His love's ecstasy,
Verses of Bhaja GovindaM in ITRANS format with translation
Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda. Oh fool ! Rules of Grammar will not save you at the time of your death.
Oh fool ! Give up your thrist to amass wealth, devote your mind to thoughts to the Real. Be content with what comes through actions already performed in the past.
Do not get drowned in delusion by going wild with passions and lust by seeing a woman's navel and chest. These are nothing but a modification of flesh. Do not fail to remember this again and again in your mind.
The life of a man is as uncertain as rain drops trembling on a lotus leaf. Know that the whole world remains a prey to disease, ego and grief.
So long as a man is fit and able to support his family, see the affection all those around him show. But no one at home cares to even have a word with him when his body totters due to old age.
When one is alive, his family members enquire kindly about his welfare. But when the soul departs from the body, even his wife runs away in fear of the corpse.
The childhood is lost by attachment to playfulness. Youth is lost by attachment to woman. Old age passes away by thinking over many past things. But there is hardly anyone who wants to be lost in parabrahman.
Who is your wife ? Who is your son ? Strange is this samsara. Of whom are you ? From where have you come ? Brother, ponder over these truths here.
What good is lust when youth has fled ? What use is a lake which has no water ? Where are the relatives when wealth is gone ? Where is samsara when the Truth is known ?
Do not boast of wealth, friends, and youth. Each one of these are destroyed within a minute. Free yourself from the illusion of the world of Maya and attain the timeless Truth.
Daylight and darkness, dusk and dawn, winter and springtime come and go. Time plays and life ebbs away. But the storm of desire never leaves.
This bouquet of twelve verses was imparted to a grammarian by the all-knowing Shankara, adored as the bhagavadpada.
Oh mad man ! Why this engrossment in thoughts of wealth ? Is there no one to guide you ? There is only one thing in three worlds that can save you from the ocean from samsara. Get into that boat of satsangha quickly. Stanza attributed to Padmapada.
There are many who go with matted locks, many who have clean shaven heads, many whose hairs have been plucked out; some are clothed in saffron, yet others in various colors --- all just for a livelihood. Seeing truth revealed before them, still the foolish ones see it not. Stanza attributed to Totakacharya.
Strength has left the old man's body; his head has become bald, his gums toothless and leaning on crutches. Even then the attachment is strong and he clings firmly to fruitless desires. Stanza attributed to Hastamalaka.
agre vahniH pR^ishhThebhaanuH
Behold there lies the man who sits warming up his body with the fire in fromt and the sun at the back; at night he curls up the body to keep out of the cold; he eats his beggar's food from the bowl of his hand and sleeps beneath the tree. Still in his heart, he is a wretched puppet at the hands of passions. Stanza attributed to Subodha.
One may go to gangasagar, observe fasts, and give away riches in charity ! Yet, devoid of jnana, nothing can give mukthi even at the end of a hundred births. Stanza attributed to Sureshwaracharya.
Take your residence in a temple or below a tree, wear the deerskin for the dress, and sleep with mother earth as your bed. Give up all attachments and renounce all comforts. Blessed with such vairagya, could any fail to be content ? Stanza attributed to Nityananda.
Let a man read but a little from giitaa, drink just a drop of water from the ganges, worship murari (govinda) just once. He then will have no altercation with Yama. Stanza attributed to dR^iDhabhakta.
Born again, death again, birth again to stay in the mother's womb ! It is indeed hard to cross this boundless ocean of samsara. Oh Murari ! Redeem me through Thy mercy. Stanza attributed to Nityanatha.
There is no shortage of clothing for a monk so long as there are rags cast off the road. Freed from vice and virtue, onward he wanders. One who lives in communion with God enjoys bliss, pure and uncontaminated, like a child and as someone intoxicated. Stanza attributed to Nityanatha.
Who are you ? Who am I ? From where do I come ? Who is my mother, who is my father ? Ponder thus, look at everything as essenceless and give up the world as an idle dream. Stanza attributed to surendra.
In me, in you and in everything, none but the same Vishnu dwells. Your anger and impatience is meaningless. If you wish to attain the status of Vishnu soon, have samabhava always. Stanza attributed to medhaatithira.
Do not waste your efforts to win the love of or to fight against friend and foe, children and relatives. See yourself in everyone and give up all feelings of duality completely. Stanza attributed to medhaatithira.
Give up lust, anger, infatuation, and greed. Ponder over your real nature. Fools are they who are blind to the Self. Cast into hell they suffer there endlessly. Stanza attributed to bharativamsha.
Regularly recite from the Gita, meditate on Vishnu [thro' Vishnu sahasranama] in your heart, and chant His thousand glories. Take delight to be with the noble and the holy. Distribute your wealth in charity to the poor and the needy. Stanza attributed to sumatira.
He who yields to lust for pleasure leaves his body a prey to disease. Though death brings an end to everything, man does not gives up the sinful path.
Wealth is not welfare, truly there is no joy in it. Reflect thus at all times. A rich man fears even his own son. This is the way of wealth everywhere.
Regulate the pranas, remain unaffected by external influences and discriminate between the real and the fleeting. Chant the holy name of God and silence the turbulent mind. Perform these with care, with extreme care.
Oh devotee of the lotus feet of the Guru ! May thou be soon free from Samsara. Through disciplined senses and controlled mind, thou shalt come to experience the Indwelling Lord of your heart !
Thus was a silly grammarian lost in rules cleansed of his narrow vision and shown the Light by Shankara's apostles.
Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool ! Other than chanting the Lord's names, there is no other way to cross the life's ocean.
Gurudeva
Occasionally people inquired about the spelling of his name, which differs
slightly from the South Indian form. He explained that the name Subramuniya
is a Tamil spelling of the Sanskrit Subhramunya (not be be confused with
of Hinduism's foremost and globally prominent spiritual teachers, a prolific
author and publisher of Hinduism Today magazine, attained Maha Samadhi,
"Great Union," today at age 74 at his ashram home on the tropical island of
Kauai, Hawaii, USA. A spokesperson for the ashram said the Hindu master
Europe with 72 devotees, that he had advanced intestinal cancer. The disease
battery of tests revealed the cancer and that it had metastasized to other
parts of his body. Three medical teams of radiologists and oncologists in
Hawaii, Washington State and California all concurred that even the most
just a few months to live. The popular Satguru went into seclusion and after
several days of meditation declared he would accept no treatment beyond
palliative measures. He also made the decision to follow the Indian yogic
fully supported his decision. He died on the 32nd day of his self-declared
News of his impending passage was first released to the Hindu world on
October 16. Immediately temples, ashrams and devotees around the world began
the "Mrityunjaya Yajna," a worship ceremony traditionally offered prior to
the passing of a great saint. The yajna was performed across the USA,
Europe, India, Malaysia, Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. In the Hindu
exalted event, signalling the completion of his mission on Earth and his
return to the great inner heaven worlds whence he was sent by God and the
Gods to help mankind. Nearly a hundred devotees from all over the world flew
to the remote island of Kauai to be nearby during the passage. The
suddenness of the events stunned the 2.5 million Tamils of Sri Lanka, for
whom Subramuniyaswami, the successor of Lanka's great guru Yogaswami, is
their hereditary spiritual leader.
An outpouring of appreciation came from the local Kauai island residents
who, though not Hindus, had over the decades of his residence there
developed a fondness and profound appreciation of Subramuniyaswami, whom
they called "Gurudeva," the affectionate title he was most known by. They
them, "Don't be sad, soon I will be with you 24 hours a day, working with
you all from the inner planes." Bereaved devotees arriving at the island
ashram heard the same message, and by the time of the Great Departure, a
profound peace had descended upon the ashram and all connected with it.
At Subramuniyaswami's request, he was cremated the same day, at Borthwick
tomorrow morning in a meditation crypt behind the sanctum sanctorum of the
Veylanswami, 59, was installed immediately as guru of the ashram, formally
As is traditional, the passage of a saint is not accompanied by the Hindu
rituals of mourning. The release from the mortal coils at the time of the
When notified of the Satguru's passing, Sita Ram Goel, one of India's most
Hinduism, and the recent reawakening of the Hindu mind carries his stamp."
Ma Yoga Shakti, renowned teacher and Hinduism Today's Hindu of the Year for
enlightened soul of the West -- a Hanuman of today, a reincarnation of Siva
Himself -- has watered the roots of Hinduism with great zeal, faith,
enthusiasm and whole-heartedness." Sri Shivarudra Balayogi Maharaj of India
helped make Hinduism an even greater gift to humanity." Swami Agnivesh of
the Arya Samaj wrote, "Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, our Gurudev, is a
great spiritual asset for humankind. I still carry with me the warmth of his
The American Swami
Few in the Hindu world would not recognize the tall, white-haired American
who had gained prominence over the decades for his practical and
clear-minded books replete with explanations of everything Hindu, from the
most basic beliefs and daily practices to the loftiest refined philosophy
and yoga techniques. He was equally famous as founder and publisher of
and controversies around the world. Among his innovative projects are the
creation of Iraivan Temple on Kauai, the first all-stone, hand-carved
granite Agamic temple ever built in the West, the founding of Hindu Heritage
In 1986, the World Religious Parliament in New Delhi honored him as one of
the five Hindu spiritual leaders outside of India who had most dynamically
promoted Hinduism in the past 25 years. Among his other honors are being
named one of 25 "presidents" of religion at the 1996 Parliament of the World
Religions held in Chicago, and receiving the U Thant Peace Award while
attending the Millennium Peace Summit of World Religious and Spiritual
Leaders held at the United Nations in August, 2000. This award was
previously given to the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope
John Paul and Mother Teresa. On August 25, 2000, he addressed 1,200
spiritual leaders during the UN events in New York.
unusual being with the silken white hair. He was a large man, six-foot two
inches tall, with deep hazel eyes. He maintained throughout much of his life
the chiseled body he had developed in his youth as an accomplished ballet
would be astounded by his strength and grace of movement. He had a keen yet
unpretentious sense of presentation, and when moving about in public was
sense of fun, maintained even upon his death bed, for when asked by a monk
if they could get anything for him, he replied, "Well, yes, a new body."
classical Eastern and Western dance and in the disciplines of yoga, becoming
the premier danseur of the San Francisco Ballet by age 19. Increasingly
to India and Sri Lanka in 1947, on the first ship to sail to India following
World War II. There he intensified his spiritual training under renowned
yogis. In 1948, in the mountain caves of Jalani in central Sri Lanka, he
Jaffna, Sri Lanka. This was the single most respected Saivite Hindu guru for
the people of Sri Lanka. The 72-year-old sage gave him his Hindu name,
Subramuniya, and initiated him into the holy orders of sannyasa, or
renunciate monasticism. Yogaswami then ordained the young mystic into his
lineage with a tremendous slap on the back, saying, "This will be heard in
America! Now go 'round the world and roar like a lion. You will build
Gurudeva introduced the nation to the circular saw, worked with leading
Buddhist elders and founded Saiva Siddhanta Church, the world's first Hindu
church, now active in many nations, and the Sri Subramuniya Ashram in the
township of Alaveddy, just north of Jaffna.
Occasionally people inquired about the spelling of his name, which differs
slightly from the South Indian form. He explained that the name Subramuniya
is a Tamil spelling of the Sanskrit Subhramunya (not be be confused with
Gurudeva returned to America in 1950 where he went into a reclusive phase of
deep contemplation and developed the spiritual techniques imparted to him in
Sri Lanka, from which he wrote his first book, "Raja Yoga." This profound
masterpiece remains the core of his teachings. Yogaswami had told him not to
teach until he reached the age of 30, so it was in 1957 that he founded
Himalayan Academy, now with thousands of students, and opened America's
Virginia City, Nevada, and other areas of California. During this time he
welcomed Hindu swamis coming for the first time to America, including Swami
Subramuniyaswami developed an effective method of teaching through
different parts of the world until two months before his passing. Among the
most outstanding of these programs was his 1969 pilgrimage to India with 65
devotees, then the largest group from America ever to come to India. Similar
spiritual journeys took him and hundreds of devotees to dozens of nations,
tours focused on connecting with the Tamil Saivite communities around the
In the 1970s he brought his followers and organization entirely into
Hinduism, and established Kauai Aadheenam, a monastery-temple complex in the
South Indian tradition on Kauai, Hawaii, USA. His was the first major
Saivite Hindu theological center outside the Indian subcontinent. In 1975 he
founded the San Marga Iraivan Temple, and in 1979 he began publishing his
Virginia City, Nevada, and produced tens of thousands of his books and
courses for the general market, writing about Indian spiritual practices
long before they became popular.
It was during this decade that large numbers of Hindus began to emigrate
from India to the United States and Europe, encouraged by new immigration
laws passed by President John F. Kennedy. Once here, they often found
themselves cut off from the guidance of Hindu leaders in India.
Subramuniyaswami sought to fill the gap by inspiring dozens of groups to
build temples and perpetuate Hinduism in their new countries. Often he would
gift the temple founders an icon of Lord Ganesha, the Hindu God invoked at
the start of any project, with instructions to immediately begin His
worship. He made himself available to the founders when they encountered
difficulties, and counseled them on how to integrate with the local American
community. He helped major institutions like the Chinmaya Mission and
staff to the Hindu cause. In many cases, he would assign one of his own
devotees to work closely with the temple until it was firmly established.
Thus were dozens of temples built under his direct guidance or indirect
In the 80s, often as part of his Innersearch programs, he conducted Hindu
renaissance tours, meeting hundreds of thousands of Hindus in India and Sri
Lanka, to whom he spread a message of courage, regenerating pride of
heritage. In 1983 he traveled throughout Sri Lanka with a few of his
monastics, visiting hundreds of villages, giving powerful talks in all parts
of the country, even the remote tea plantations of central Lanka. Over
in their heritage and to cling to their faith despite efforts of other
was paraded through towns and villages in the ancient way, seldom seen
would walk to each meeting, each temple rite, each lecture. Sometimes these
would go for miles, with devotees crowded on both sides of the roadway,
chanting and offering flower petals beneath his long-striding feet. In
Tuticorin, deep in the south of India, city elder and staunch Saiva
the West through the streets in a marvelous procession of chariots and
Hundreds of thousands of Saivites turned out that morning to welcome the
sage from America, and he was led for miles through the city streets with
hundreds of women with baskets full of flowers standing on the tops of each
building raining tons of flowers on the great guru below who had given
Saivite Hinduism back its pride of place among the religions of the world.
During this same journey, he was given awards from all the major spiritual
India's greatest Bharata Natyam dancer, Kumari Swarnamukhi, to dance in the
the first in hundreds of years and marked the return of the sacred dancers
to the temples from which they had been banned for so long.
Also in the 1980s Gurudeva founded a branch monastery in Mauritius, whose
to our country," wrote one Mauritian at the time, "but do not just feed us
Always an accomplished publisher, Subramuniyaswami came in on the ground
floor with desktop publishing, adopting the Apple computer in 1985, then in
its infancy, and instructing his monks to create a state-of-the-art system.
Engineers from Apple came to Kauai to marvel at the setup. Apple even sent a
team of documentary filmmakers to the monastery to show their employees the
monastics. He enjoyed the technology and proficiently used it for his work.
scriptures, books, pamphlets, art, lessons and later through CDs and the
Subramuniyaswami had come by this time to be well-known throughout the world
as an articulate, insightful and forceful exponent of the Hindu faith. In
the late 1980s and the 1990s, in historic gatherings of spiritual and
at the seminal Global Forum of Political and Spiritual Leaders‹at Oxford in
1988, Moscow in 1990, and Brazil in 1992. In 1986, the World Religious
Parliament in New Delhi honored him as one of the five Hindu spiritual
leaders outside of India who had most dynamically promoted Hinduism in the
past 25 years. In 1993 he was elected one of three Presidents of Hinduism at
the 100th anniversary of the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago. It
stunning 3,000-page illustrated trilogy of sourcebooks on Saivism. The last
from the printers in Malaysia shortly before his passing.
Subramuniyaswami taught the traditional Saivite Hindu path to enlightenment,
a path that leads the soul from simple service to worshipful devotion to
God, from the disciplines of meditation and yoga to the direct knowing of
Divinity within. His insights into the nature of consciousness provide a key
for quieting the external mind and revealing to aspirants their deeper
states of being, which are eternally perfect, full of light, love, serenity
and wisdom. He urges all seekers to live a life of ahimsa, nonhurtfulness
guru's instruction to bring Saivism to the Western world by teaching others
His Monastic Order and the Future
Foundational to all of his work is the Kauai Aadheenam and its resident
Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order. This group of 14 initiated swamis with lifetime
countries and include both men born into the Hindu religion and those who
of Subramuniyaswami's strict and hands-on personal guidance, all of his work
will be carried forward and flourish in the future under the guidance of his
This is an advaitic (non-dualist) Saiva Siddhanta order, a living stream of
the ancient Nandinatha Sampradaya. This lineage is bound by certain common
elements of philosophy including a belief in both the transcendent and
immanent nature of God, the value of temple worship and the need to work
teaches the principle philosophical doctrines of the Hindu religion,
all beings, the importance of the yamas and niyamas, the need for purity and
personal encounter with the Divine, gained through the several yogas and
recognize caste distinctions in spiritual pursuits and initiate from the
lowest to the highest, according to spiritual worthiness. Swamis of the
Nandinatha lineage are often known as "market-place swamis," for they have
historically lived among the people, rather than in remote areas, and
interacted freely with all regardless of social status.
advance Hinduism throughout the world. Leading swamis of India marveled at
his ability to explain the most complex principles in a uniquely lucid and
straightforward English, perhaps the central part of his written legacy, for
until him the English representations of Hinduism were mostly Victorian in
style or academic and awkward. Swami Chidananda Saraswati, President of the
Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, India, said, "All the Hindus of our global
Hindu brotherhood are verily indebted to Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami for
his super compendium of books on Hinduism so carefully compiled, classified,
proclaimed that he is a genius of Hinduism. He has put millions under a deep
debt of gratitude by his unprecedented literary work."
are popular around the world for their easy readability, and are used in
American universities for Hindu courses of study and comparative religion
in question and answer format on the basics of Hinduism. Central to "Living
with Siva" are his lengthy explanations of the traditional restraints and
observances of Hinduism and his 365 guidelines for Hindu living, of which
115-year-old Swami Bua of New York recently commented, "These guidelines
unfold one after the other with stunning simplicity. There are instructions
In the 365 sutras, Subramuniyaswami addressed many controversial issues of
our day, one of which came into play at the end of his own life. Hindu
as a means of accelerating one's departure from the body in the case of
terminal illness. Upon hearing his medical prognosis, he meditated upon the
path ahead and considering the severity of his condition decided to fast to
Living with Siva: "To leave the body in the right frame of mind, in the
right consciousness, through the highest possible chakra, is a key to
spiritual progress. The seers did not want unrelenting pain and hopelessness
to be the only possibilities facing a soul whose body was failing, whose
only experience was pain without reprieve. So they prescribed a kindly way,
a reasonable way, especially for the pain-riddled, disabled elderly and the
No killer drugs. No violence. No involvement of another human being, with
all the karmic entanglements that inevitably produces. No life-support
systems. No loss of the family wealth for prolonged health care or into the
hands of unscrupulous doctors. No lapsing into unconscious coma. No loss of
a quiet, slow, natural exit from the body, coupled with spiritual practices,
The third book, "Merging with Siva," is on mystical Hinduism,
Subramuniyaswami's speciality. It is a summation of his yogic and
metaphysical insights gained through over 50 years of meditation and inner
practices. This master work, which is a kind of handbook for seekers of
light and serious aspirants wishing to follow the path toward illumination
and spiritual liberation, covers a wide range of subjects including karma,
the aura, the fourteen chakras or psychic force centers of the body,
understanding and transcending the various states of mind and the methods to
In addition to the trilogy, Subramuniyaswami produced "Loving Ganesha," a
work on Hinduism's favorite God; "Lemurian Scrolls," which explores the
origins of mankind on Earth; "Weaver's Wisdom," the best English translation
of the ancient Tamil ethical scripture, "Tirukural;" "Saiva Dharma Sastras,"
an administrative manual on his organization which has served to guide other
Hindu organizations in their efforts to transplant Hinduism on Western soil;
as well as dozens of pamphlets, posters and handouts. In response to a
request from the Hindus of Fiji, he prepared a children's course, Saivite
Hindu Religion, now taught to thousands of children around the world.
encapsulated one entire aspect of Subramuniyaswami's mission: clear and
ethical religious conversion. Unlike many other Hindu teachers in America,
he was adverse to hiding or minimizing the Hindu origins of his teachings.
He insisted that his devotees be boldly and proudly Hindus, and if they were
not born into the faith, that they sincerely convert to Hinduism if they
wanted to follow him, including legally changing their name to a Hindu name.
The book was well received in India, where people referred to it as "How to
Become a Better Hindu." The Shankaracharya of Puri, one of Hinduism's
enter the Hindu fold, and also to the younger generation of Hindus." The
book also has greatly assisted with intermarriage of Hindus with those
outside their faith.
Subramuniyaswami enjoyed promoting his books, and in the course of his
travels for other events he would take time out to have book signings at
local book stores such as Borders and Barnes and Noble. These were always
interested in his teachings an opportunity for a personal encounter with the
famed guru. The store would turn into a temporary temple as devotees and
bookstores rarely stocked enough books for the relatively large numbers who
would come, and compensated by bringing dozens of extra copies. At the end
of the evening, Subramuniyaswami would joke with the store's staff, "Well,
do I get the job?"
about Hinduism; 4) To protect, preserve and promote the sacred Vedas and the
Hindu religion; 5) To nurture and monitor the ongoing spiritual Hindu
promote Sanatana Dharma. The magazine is supplemented with a daily e-mailed
summary of Hindu news appearing in the world press called Hindu Press
International. The magazine is by far the most sophisticated Hindu
periodical and the only one which deals with all denominations of Hinduism
the magazine has successfully kept Hindus and non-Hindus alike appraised of
a wide range of issues, people and institutions. Its website, along with
information, is by far the largest resource on Hinduism on the Internet
(start at www.himalayanacademy.com). A unique part of his website is "A
Daily Chronicle of Kauai's Hindu Monstery," at which his answers to
Hundreds of such sessions are archived there (see http://www.gurudeva.org/)
Ma Yoga Shakti, renowned teacher and Hinduism Today's Hindu of the Year for
2000, said, "We are very proud of Hinduism Today. For more than three
decades, Subramuniyaswami, a highly enlightened soul of the West -- a
Hanuman of today, a reincarnation of Siva Himself -- has watered the roots
of Hinduism with great zeal, faith, enthusiasm and whole-heartedness." Sri
united Hindus throughout the world with his dynamic approach to an ancient
lead in the effort to overcome the problem of self-alienation and growing
illiteracy among the Hindus of their heritage. It is easily the best
The Iraivan Temple, now under construction at Kauai Aadheenam, was conceived
shortly after Subramuniyaswami had a powerful vision of God Siva walking on
the Aadheenam land in 1975. To permanently capture the power of this great
vision, he commissioned the construction of a large temple to be entirely
made of hand-carved granite. The land was prepared for fifteen years, money
hired to design the edifice in the thousand-year-old Chola style. The actual
blessed by the presence of Sri Sri Sri Trichyswami and Sri Sri Sri
Balagangadharanathaswami, the two foremost spiritual gurus of Karnataka
State, who so loved Gurudeva's vision of a temple carved in India and
erected in America that they gave him 11 acres of land and supported every
phase of the work as though it was their own temple being built. On the arid
desert lands, Gurudeva founded an entire village for the project. Homes were
erected for the 75 carvers and their families, wells were dug, kitchens
protect the stone sculptors from the Indian sun. A Malaysian family,
devotees of Gurudeva, Jiva Rajasankara, with his wife and sons, were brought
to Bangalore to supervise the workers. The family oversees even today the
stones which are quarried, carved and trial-fitted, then shipped to Kauai
where starting in May, 2001, a team of seven master stone carvers from India
arrived to begin assembly. They are presently on the sixth course of the
temple; the work is expected to take several more years to complete. At the
time of Gurudeva's passing, they had just completed the floor of the inner
sanctum. This is the first all-stone temple ever built in the Western
Hemisphere, and one for which Subramuniyaswami has insisted upon the most
careful craftsmanship. He directed the carvers to do everything by hand, and
the time-consuming and expensive project, he said no, telling them that by
having it done in the old way we would be passing along the ancient,
hands-only craft to one more generation. The entire temple, which is taking
hundreds of man years to complete, is being produced in the same way that
great carvers like Michelangelo and Rubin did their masterpieces, with a
simple hammer and an array of chisels. Enshrined in the temple will be a
700-pound single-pointed quartz crystal, possibly the largest in the world,
methods by other religions in India and other parts of the world. He put his
concerns directly before leaders of other faiths in public forums and in
private. He also raised these controversies at various international
At the moment when Nepal changed from a monarchy to a democracy in 1990, his
"Hindu." As a result, Nepal remains the only officially Hindu nation in the
In the 1990s Subramuniyaswami became aware of the pervasive use of corporal
punishment in the homes and schools of Hindus. He immediately began a
campaign to "Stop the War in the Home" (see source for this talk at end) and
to change the policies of schools. He directed his own followers in many
nations to stop hitting or abusing, even verbally, their children under any
circumstances, and instructed them to begin teaching nonviolent methods of
positive discipline within their local community. For this, he partnered
with Dr. Jane Nelsen, one of the great voices of enlightened discipline for
children. She visited him on Kauai and together they worked out programs in
Hindu communities around the world. This campaign, which is paralleled in
other parts of the world among people of other faiths, is bearing fruit,
with dozens of schools in India now forbidding corporal punishment, and
thousands of Hindu parents reconsidering their own methods of child rearing.
When he addressed the 1,200 delegates to the Millennium Peace Summit of
World Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations in August, 2000,
he said in part, "To stop the wars in the world, our best long-term solution
is to stop the war in the home. It is here that hatred begins, that
children learn to solve their problems with violence. This is true of every
Within his own tradition of Saiva Siddhanta, Subramuniyaswami worked
personal teaching. Relying upon his own intuition and profound mystical
powers, he clarified and purified all of the Saivite teachings of his
inner experience. His staff researched thousands of topics and consulted
regularly with hundreds of scholars, linguists, historians, theologians and
other experts, all of whom enthusiastically assisted this great spiritual
leader. He never engaged in theological dispute with other sects of
Hinduism, but rather encouraged each to be true to their own traditions and
encouraging all shared beliefs and practices, rather than emphasizing areas
of disagreement. As a result, spiritual leaders of all traditions embraced
him and counted him a friend and ally. There has never been a guru so
beloved by other gurus, nor one so fond of a brother swami. Over the years
hundreds were either visited by him in their ashrams or found their way to
his ashram in the Pacific Ocean.
In addition to his work within the global Hinduism, Subramuniyaswami also
had special relations with a number of communities including the Sri Lankan
Tamils, the Saivites of Mauritius, Malaysia and Fiji and his fellow
In South India, these theological centers, known as aadheenams, perform many
functions. They found and manage temples, hold endowment investments and
arbitrate theological issues, give spiritual counseling and teach. They have
the authority to clarify and reinterpret scripture and to revise customary
practices of their communities. They also deal with worldly matters and are
called upon to settle disputes in the community, to advise politicians, even
these functions in these various communities.
By far his greatest efforts and most focused energy went toward the 2.5
the country in 1983. Just prior to its onset he toured the country,
addressing hundreds of thousands of Tamils. After 1983, Tamil refugees
poured out of Sri Lanka and made their way to Canada, America, Germany,
England, Australia and dozens of other countries. He founded the first
Refugee Relief Fund for Sri Lankans in 1985, collecting money in the West
and sending it to the war-torn region of Jaffna. He established and
maintained contact with each of these communities, advised them on how to
adjust to their circumstances and to remain staunch Saivite Hindus. In his
last Innersearch travel-study program, he visited many of these communities
in Europe, and celebrated with them their successful adaptation to their new
homes. In Denmark in August of 2001 he laid the foundation stone for an
Amman temple and visited other temple communities in Sweden, Norway, Germany
and the UK.
No group of Hindus counted Gurudeva their champion more than the noble
Saivite temple priests. Most especially he encouraged and defended the
Sivacharya priests of South India, who are traditionally attached to the
aadheenams. He helped restore the dignity of this priesthood and encouraged
young men born in the priest families to follow in the profession of their
fathers instead of opting for higher-paying but totally secular jobs. He
instructed the trustees of these temples outside of India he helped get
started to treat their priests with respect, pay them decent wages and
provide proper living facilities. He encouraged priests to start their own
considered the status and well-being of the Hindu priesthood to be the most
accurate measure of the well-being of Hinduism in general, and his successor
and monks will continue to champion the cause of Hindu priests around the
world. The priests in turn assisted Subramuniyaswami's mission at every
in temple worship, a training heretofore never imparted to anyone outside
their caste.
Subramuniyaswami first visited Malaysia in June of 1980 with two of his
swamis, and then again in January, 1981, traveling with 33 devotees for an
Innersearch program which included India and Sri Lanka. Over the next few
years, Hindus attracted to Subramuniyaswami's teachings started the
schools. These classes and the widespread distribution of Hinduism Today
Hindus are just 10% of the population. Gurudeva's dedicated members in this
country disseminated clear Hindu teachings to the youth and instilled a
pride in Hindu religion as a result. He sent one of his monastics to teach
classes all over the country. In 1986 the first Hindu youth camps in
Malaysia were conducted by his devotees, which inspired all the other Hindu
abolishing corporal punishment in the homes and schools, directing his
devotees to teach classes for other Hindu parents in nonviolent means of
parenting and to change school policies regarding corporal punishment of
students. At a national level, the cumulative impact of his work has been a
dramatic increase in the pride of Hindus. One person said, "He has breathed
new life into Hinduism for the Hindus of Malaysia." Today three of
Manon Mardemootoo, a long-standing devotee of Subramuniyaswami and a
prominent attorney, offered this summary of Subramuniyaswami's work in the
island nation of Mauritius:
"Subramuniyaswami came to Mauritius in the 1980s at the request of Hindu
elders who were worried about the high rate of conversion from the Hindu
fold. In January, 1982, he spent an entire month there traveling from
village to village with one of his swamis. Then Gurudeva sent a
French-speaking monk who at one time was holding 25 classes around the
island. He conveyed Subramuniyaswami's teachings on the three worlds, the
story of our soul, our great God and Gods, the pillars of Hinduism, karma,
dharma, etc., all of which gave us a glimpse of our incomparable heritage,
the greatness of Hinduism and the oneness of mankind. He removed
misconceptions in the Tamil Saivite community. Many of us came to understand
that Sivaratri was not a festival of our Hindi-speaking brothers only, nor
was Ganesha Chaturti a purely Maurati festival, but rather both were major
"The establishment of Subramuniyaswami's mission was made official by the
the printing of a local edition of Hinduism Today in 1986 on the island and
set up a monastery on a 12-acre parcel at Riviere du Rempart. Hundreds of
people would come for the weekly homas held at that time. Today the major
part of this land has been dedicated to a spiritual park, a present of
Subramuniyaswami to the people of Mauritius and the only one of its nature
in the country. It is now regularly visited by pilgrims from the world over.
The Spiritual Park was created at a cost of several million rupees, all
donated by local Hindus. The most elaborate part of it is the Ganesha
large granite icons of Lord Murugan, in His form as the six-faced Arumugam,
and Lord Siva, in the form of Dakshinamurthi, the silent teacher, also grace
the spiritual park.
"We have had a regular flow of monastics from our headquarters in Hawaii,
Kauai Aadheenam, to the monastery. They created the Spiritual Park and held
retreats and seminars for thousands of youth around the island.
well he encouraged the wearing of Hindu dress at home, temples and during
Tyaganatha, hailing from the same village of Rempart, who is one of the
discipline, the concept of education without violence at home and school and
the only way to completely eradicate violence from our society. Gurudeva
will be remembered for the sense of discipline in spiritual life and
excellence at work which he instilled among his members and the need to
pursue daily sadhanas for spiritual progress and peaceful living in the
spirit of ahimsa in all aspects of life. This is the present sadhana of
members, to take these teachings into the public and make it a living
reality. Subramuniyaswami succeeded in creating a sense of self-respect and
a new-found identity among the Hindus of Mauritius.
The first was with Hindu leaders to strengthen the ties within the Hindu
community. Then in 1995, under the auspices of the municipal Council of Port
Louis, he met with religious leaders of all faiths to strengthen the bonds
of friendship, respect and harmony among the people of Mauritius. Today, in
significant part because of Subramuniyaswami's contribution, Mauritius is
cited everywhere, including on the floor of the United Nations, as an
example of peaceful coexistence in a multi-racial, multi-religious nation."
Over his 52 years of ministry, Subramuniyaswami has helped the Hindus of
Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Singapore, and many more countries. Indeed, there
is probably not a corner of the Hindu world which has not been impacted by
Even though Subramuniyaswami's Kauai Aadheenam is located outside of India
and in a largely non-Hindu community, still he found himself performing the
traditional functions of an aadheenam for the local community. He was a key
member of "Vision Kauai," a group of community leaders including
positive future for the island's community. He worked monthly with the mayor
of Kauai, with county council members, the university provost, the
superintendent of schools, business and agricultural leaders, to bring a
unity to the ethnically diverse island of 55,000 and to offer his vision for
a secure, drug-free future for the children. It was a message he carried
out for advice by community leaders on the important issues facing the
island. Hundreds of residents, well-to-do and not so well-to-do alike,
counted him as their easily approachable friend and counselor, remaining
only remotely aware of his stature in the Hindu world. He was, in fact,
Kauai's most renowned citizen, the only one with an extensive global impact.
This was recognized in formal ways by the governor of the state, the mayor
and county council. Indeed, the outpouring of gratitude and appreciation
as for those of his close disciples.
"Just before his passing," said the monastery spokesperson, "He asked
unstinting vigor, to keep one another strong on the spiritual path, to work
diligently on their personal spiritual disciplines and to live every moment
in harmony and love for all peoples. His monks, forged in the fires of his
These two communities will continue the work together: building the Iraivan
Temple, managing the Spiritual Park in Mauritius, shepherding souls on the
Saivite path of enlightenment, continuing the many publications, teaching
children their Saivite Hindu religion, preserving traditional culture and
art, protecting Hindu priests and the indigenous faiths of the world,
contributing to our local Kauai community, guiding the future of Hinduism
around the globe and working to reduce violence, child-beating and spouse
Website for extensive further information and high-resolution photos
The algebra of infinite justice
[Articles] > The algebra of infinite justice
As the US prepares to wage a new kind of war, Arundhati Roy challenges the instinct for vengance
In the aftermath of the unconscionable September 11 suicide attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre, an American newscaster said: "Good and evil rarely manifest themselves as clearly as they did last Tuesday. People who we don't know massacred people who we do. And they did so with contemptuous glee." Then he broke down and wept.
Here's the rub: America is at war against people it doesn't know, because they don't appear much on TV. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an "international coalition against terror", mobilised its army, its air force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle.
The trouble is that once Amer ica goes off to war, it can't very well return without having fought one. If it doesn't find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and we'll lose sight of why it's being fought in the first place.
What we're witnessing here is the spectacle of the world's most powerful country reaching reflexively, angrily, for an old instinct to fight a new kind of war. Suddenly, when it comes to defending itself, America's streamlined warships, cruise missiles and F-16 jets look like obsolete, lumbering things. As deterrence, its arsenal of nuclear bombs is no longer worth its weight in scrap. Box-cutters, penknives, and cold anger are the weapons with which the wars of the new century will be waged. Anger is the lock pick. It slips through customs unnoticed. Doesn't show up in baggage checks.
Who is America fighting? On September 20, the FBI said that it had doubts about the identities of some of the hijackers. On the same day President George Bush said, "We know exactly who these people are and which governments are supporting them." It sounds as though the president knows something that the FBI and the American public don't.
In his September 20 address to the US Congress, President Bush called the enemies of America "enemies of freedom". "Americans are asking, 'Why do they hate us?' " he said. "They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." People are being asked to make two leaps of faith here. First, to assume that The Enemy is who the US government says it is, even though it has no substantial evidence to support that claim. And second, to assume that The Enemy's motives are what the US government says they are, and there's nothing to support that either.
For strategic, military and economic reasons, it is vital for the US government to persuade its public that their commitment to freedom and democracy and the American Way of Life is under attack. In the current atmosphere of grief, outrage and anger, it's an easy notion to peddle. However, if that were true, it's reasonable to wonder why the symbols of America's economic and military dominance - the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon - were chosen as the targets of the attacks. Why not the Statue of Liberty? Could it be that the stygian anger that led to the attacks has its taproot not in American freedom and democracy, but in the US government's record of commitment and support to exactly the opposite things - to military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide (outside America)? It must be hard for ordinary Americans, so recently bereaved, to look up at the world with their eyes full of tears and encounter what might appear to them to be indifference. It isn't indifference. It's just augury. An absence of surprise. The tired wisdom of knowing that what goes around eventually comes around. American people ought to know that it is not them but their government's policies that are so hated. They can't possibly doubt that they themselves, their extraordinary musicians, their writers, their actors, their spectacular sportsmen and their cinema, are universally welcomed. All of us have been moved by the courage and grace shown by firefighters, rescue workers and ordinary office staff in the days since the attacks.
America's grief at what happened has been immense and immensely public. It would be grotesque to expect it to calibrate or modulate its anguish. However, it will be a pity if, instead of using this as an opportunity to try to understand why September 11 happened, Americans use it as an opportunity to usurp the whole world's sorrow to mourn and avenge only their own. Because then it falls to the rest of us to ask the hard questions and say the harsh things. And for our pains, for our bad timing, we will be disliked, ignored and perhaps eventually silenced.
The world will probably never know what motivated those particular hijackers who flew planes into those particular American buildings. They were not glory boys. They left no suicide notes, no political messages; no organisation has claimed credit for the attacks. All we know is that their belief in what they were doing outstripped the natural human instinct for survival, or any desire to be remembered. It's almost as though they could not scale down the enormity of their rage to anything smaller than their deeds. And what they did has blown a hole in the world as we knew it. In the absence of information, politicians, political commentators and writers (like myself) will invest the act with their own politics, with their own interpretations. This speculation, this analysis of the political climate in which the attacks took place, can only be a good thing.
But war is looming large. Whatever remains to be said must be said quickly. Before America places itself at the helm of the "international coalition against terror", before it invites (and coerces) countries to actively participate in its almost godlike mission - called Operation Infinite Justice until it was pointed out that this could be seen as an insult to Muslims, who believe that only Allah can mete out infinite justice, and was renamed Operation Enduring Freedom- it would help if some small clarifications are made. For example, Infinite Justice/Enduring Freedom for whom? Is this America's war against terror in America or against terror in general? What exactly is being avenged here? Is it the tragic loss of almost 7,000 lives, the gutting of five million square feet of office space in Manhattan, the destruction of a section of the Pentagon, the loss of several hundreds of thousands of jobs, the bankruptcy of some airline companies and the dip in the New York Stock Exchange? Or is it more than that? In 1996, Madeleine Albright, then the US secretary of state, was asked on national television what she felt about the fact that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of US economic sanctions. She replied that it was "a very hard choice", but that, all things considered, "we think the price is worth it". Albright never lost her job for saying this. She continued to travel the world representing the views and aspirations of the US government. More pertinently, the sanctions against Iraq remain in place. Children continue to die.
So here we have it. The equivocating distinction between civilisation and savagery, between the "massacre of innocent people" or, if you like, "a clash of civilisations" and "collateral damage". The sophistry and fastidious algebra of infinite justice. How many dead Iraqis will it take to make the world a better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead American? How many dead women and children for every dead man? How many dead mojahedin for each dead investment banker? As we watch mesmerised, Operation Enduring Freedom unfolds on TV monitors across the world. A coalition of the world's superpowers is closing in on Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged, war-torn countries in the world, whose ruling Taliban government is sheltering Osama bin Laden, the man being held responsible for the September 11 attacks.
The only thing in Afghanistan that could possibly count as collateral value is its citizenry. (Among them, half a million maimed orphans.There are accounts of hobbling stampedes that occur when artificial limbs are airdropped into remote, inaccessible villages.) Afghanistan's economy is in a shambles. In fact, the problem for an invading army is that Afghanistan has no conventional coordinates or signposts to plot on a military map - no big cities, no highways, no industrial complexes, no water treatment plants. Farms have been turned into mass graves. The countryside is littered with land mines - 10 million is the most recent estimate. The American army would first have to clear the mines and build roads in order to take its soldiers in.
Fearing an attack from America, one million citizens have fled from their homes and arrived at the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The UN estimates that there are eight million Afghan citizens who need emergency aid. As supplies run out - food and aid agencies have been asked to leave - the BBC reports that one of the worst humanitarian disasters of recent times has begun to unfold. Witness the infinite justice of the new century. Civilians starving to death while they're waiting to be killed.
In America there has been rough talk of "bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age". Someone please break the news that Afghanistan is already there. And if it's any consolation, America played no small part in helping it on its way. The American people may be a little fuzzy about where exactly Afghanistan is (we hear reports that there's a run on maps of the country), but the US government and Afghanistan are old friends.
In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) launched the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA. Their purpose was to harness the energy of Afghan resistance to the Soviets and expand it into a holy war, an Islamic jihad, which would turn Muslim countries within the Soviet Union against the communist regime and eventually destabilise it. When it began, it was meant to be the Soviet Union's Vietnam. It turned out to be much more than that. Over the years, through the ISI, the CIA funded and recruited almost 100,000 radical mojahedin from 40 Islamic countries as soldiers for America's proxy war. The rank and file of the mojahedin were unaware that their jihad was actually being fought on behalf of Uncle Sam. (The irony is that America was equally unaware that it was financing a future war against itself.)
In 1989, after being bloodied by 10 years of relentless conflict, the Russians withdrew, leaving behind a civilisation reduced to rubble.
Civil war in Afghanistan raged on. The jihad spread to Chechnya, Kosovo and eventually to Kashmir. The CIA continued to pour in money and military equipment, but the overheads had become immense, and more money was needed. The mojahedin ordered farmers to plant opium as a "revolutionary tax". The ISI set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the CIA's arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland had become the biggest producer of heroin in the world, and the single biggest source of the heroin on American streets. The annual profits, said to be between $100bn and $200bn, were ploughed back into training and arming militants.
In 1995, the Taliban - then a marginal sect of dangerous, hardline fundamentalists - fought its way to power in Afghanistan. It was funded by the ISI, that old cohort of the CIA, and supported by many political parties in Pakistan. The Taliban unleashed a regime of terror. Its first victims were its own people, particularly women. It closed down girls' schools, dismissed women from government jobs, and enforced sharia laws under which women deemed to be "immoral" are stoned to death, and widows guilty of being adulterous are buried alive. Given the Taliban government's human rights track record, it seems unlikely that it will in any way be intimidated or swerved from its purpose by the prospect of war, or the threat to the lives of its civilians.
After all that has happened, can there be anything more ironic than Russia and America joining hands to re-destroy Afghanistan? The question is, can you destroy destruction? Dropping more bombs on Afghanistan will only shuffle the rubble, scramble some old graves and disturb the dead.
The desolate landscape of Afghanistan was the burial ground of Soviet communism and the springboard of a unipolar world dominated by America. It made the space for neocapitalism and corporate globalisation, again dominated by America. And now Afghanistan is poised to become the graveyard for the unlikely soldiers who fought and won this war for America.
And what of America's trusted ally? Pakistan too has suffered enormously. The US government has not been shy of supporting military dictators who have blocked the idea of democracy from taking root in the country. Before the CIA arrived, there was a small rural market for opium in Pakistan. Between 1979 and 1985, the number of heroin addicts grew from zero to one-and-a-half million. Even before September 11, there were three million Afghan refugees living in tented camps along the border. Pakistan's economy is crumbling. Sectarian violence, globalisation's structural adjustment programmes and drug lords are tearing the country to pieces. Set up to fight the Soviets, the terrorist training centres and madrasahs, sown like dragon's teeth across the country, produced fundamentalists with tremendous popular appeal within Pakistan itself. The Taliban, which the Pakistan government has sup ported, funded and propped up for years, has material and strategic alliances with Pakistan's own political parties.
Now the US government is asking (asking?) Pakistan to garotte the pet it has hand-reared in its backyard for so many years. President Musharraf, having pledged his support to the US, could well find he has something resembling civil war on his hands.
India, thanks in part to its geography, and in part to the vision of its former leaders, has so far been fortunate enough to be left out of this Great Game. Had it been drawn in, it's more than likely that our democracy, such as it is, would not have survived. Today, as some of us watch in horror, the Indian government is furiously gyrating its hips, begging the US to set up its base in India rather than Pakistan. Having had this ringside view of Pakistan's sordid fate, it isn't just odd, it's unthinkable, that India should want to do this. Any third world country with a fragile economy and a complex social base should know by now that to invite a superpower such as America in (whether it says it's staying or just passing through) would be like inviting a brick to drop through your windscreen.
Operation Enduring Freedom is ostensibly being fought to uphold the American Way of Life. It'll probably end up undermining it completely. It will spawn more anger and more terror across the world. For ordinary people in America, it will mean lives lived in a climate of sickening uncertainty: will my child be safe in school? Will there be nerve gas in the subway? A bomb in the cinema hall? Will my love come home tonight? There have been warnings about the possibility of biological warfare - smallpox, bubonic plague, anthrax - the deadly payload of innocuous crop-duster aircraft. Being picked off a few at a time may end up being worse than being annihilated all at once by a nuclear bomb.
The US government, and no doubt governments all over the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defence industry. To what purpose? President Bush can no more "rid the world of evil-doers" than he can stock it with saints. It's absurd for the US government to even toy with the notion that it can stamp out terrorism with more violence and oppression. Terrorism is the symptom, not the disease. Terrorism has no country. It's transnational, as global an enterprise as Coke or Pepsi or Nike. At the first sign of trouble, terrorists can pull up stakes and move their "factories" from country to country in search of a better deal. Just like the multi-nationals.
Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away. But if it is to be contained, the first step is for America to at least acknowledge that it shares the planet with other nations, with other human beings who, even if they are not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and, for heaven's sake, rights. Instead, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, was asked what he would call a victory in America's new war, he said that if he could convince the world that Americans must be allowed to continue with their way of life, he would consider it a victory.
The September 11 attacks were a monstrous calling card from a world gone horribly wrong. The message may have been written by Bin Laden (who knows?) and delivered by his couriers, but it could well have been signed by the ghosts of the victims of America's old wars. The millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, the 17,500 killed when Israel - backed by the US - invaded Lebanon in 1982, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation Desert Storm, the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting Israel's occupation of the West Bank. And the millions who died, in Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama, at the hands of all the terrorists, dictators and genocidists whom the American government supported, trained, bankrolled and supplied with arms. And this is far from being a comprehensive list.
For a country involved in so much warfare and conflict, the American people have been extremely fortunate. The strikes on September 11 were only the second on American soil in over a century. The first was Pearl Harbour. The reprisal for this took a long route, but ended with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This time the world waits with bated breath for the horrors to come.
Someone recently said that if Osama bin Laden didn't exist, America would have had to invent him. But, in a way, America did invent him. He was among the jihadis who moved to Afghanistan in 1979 when the CIA commenced its operations there. Bin Laden has the distinction of being created by the CIA and wanted by the FBI. In the course of a fortnight he has been promoted from suspect to prime suspect and then, despite the lack of any real evidence, straight up the charts to being "wanted dead or alive".
From all accounts, it will be impossible to produce evidence (of the sort that would stand scrutiny in a court of law) to link Bin Laden to the September 11 attacks. So far, it appears that the most incriminating piece of evidence against him is the fact that he has not condemned them.
From what is known about the location of Bin Laden and the living conditions in which he operates, it's entirely possible that he did not personally plan and carry out the attacks - that he is the inspirational figure, "the CEO of the holding company". The Taliban's response to US demands for the extradition of Bin Laden has been uncharacteristically reasonable: produce the evidence, then we'll hand him over. President Bush's response is that the demand is "non-negotiable".
(While talks are on for the extradition of CEOs - can India put in a side request for the extradition of Warren Anderson of the US? He was the chairman of Union Carbide, responsible for the Bhopal gas leak that killed 16,000 people in 1984. We have collated the necessary evidence. It's all in the files. Could we have him, please?)
But who is Osama bin Laden really? Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden? He's America's family secret. He is the American president's dark doppelgänger. The savage twin of all that purports to be beautiful and civilised. He has been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to waste by America's foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its vulgarly stated policy of "full-spectrum dominance", its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts. Its marauding multinationals who are taking over the air we breathe, the ground we stand on, the water we drink, the thoughts we think. Now that the family secret has been spilled, the twins are blurring into one another and gradually becoming interchangeable. Their guns, bombs, money and drugs have been going around in the loop for a while. (The Stinger missiles that will greet US helicopters were supplied by the CIA. The heroin used by America's drug addicts comes from Afghanistan. The Bush administration recently gave Afghanistan a $43m subsidy for a "war on drugs"....)
Now Bush and Bin Laden have even begun to borrow each other's rhetoric. Each refers to the other as "the head of the snake". Both invoke God and use the loose millenarian currency of good and evil as their terms of reference. Both are engaged in unequivocal political crimes. Both are dangerously armed - one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely powerful, the other with the incandescent, destructive power of the utterly hopeless. The fireball and the ice pick. The bludgeon and the axe. The important thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable alternative to the other.
President Bush's ultimatum to the people of the world - "If you're not with us, you're against us" - is a piece of presumptuous arrogance. It's not a choice that people want to, need to, or should have to make.
Deepavali
DEEPAVALI or Diwali means "a row of lights". It falls on the last two days of the dark half of Kartik (October-November). For some it is a three-day festival. It commences with the Dhan-Teras, on the 13th day of the dark half of Kartik, followed the next day by the Narak Chaudas, the 14th day, and by Deepavali proper on the 15th day.
There are various alleged origins attributed to this festival. Some hold that they celebrate the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. In Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. It also commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphant Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. On this day also Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura.
In South India people take an oil bath in the morning and wear new clothes. They partake of sweetmeats. They light fireworks which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day. They greet one another, asking, "Have you had your Ganges bath?" which actually refers to the oil bath that morning as it is regarded as purifying as a bath in the holy Ganges.
Everyone forgets and forgives the wrongs done by others. There is an air of freedom, festivity and friendliness everywhere. This festival brings about unity. It instils charity in the hearts of people. Everyone buys new clothes for the family. Employers, too, purchase new clothes for their employees.
Waking up during the Brahmamuhurta (at 4a.m.) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work and spiritual advancement. It is on Deepavali that everyone wakes up early in the morning. The sages who instituted this custom must have cherished the hope that their descendents would realise its benefits and make it a regular habit in their lives.
In a happy mood of great rejoicing village folk move about freely, mixing with one another without any reserve, all enmity being forgotten. People embrace one another with love. Deepavali is a great unifying force. Those with keen inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages, "O Children of God! unite, and love all". The vibrations produced by the greetings of love which fill the atmosphere are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world. Alas! That heart has considerably hardened, and only a continuous celebration of Deepavali in our homes can rekindle in us the urgent need of turning away from the ruinous path of hatred.
On this day Hindu merchants in North India open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity during the coming year. The homes are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated by night with earthern oil-lamps. The best and finest illuminations are to be seen in Bombay and Amritsar. The famous Golden Temple at Amritsar is lit in the evening with thousands of lamps placed all over the steps of the big tank. Vaishnavites celebrate the Govardhan Puja and feed the poor on a large scale.
O Ram! The light of lights, the self-luminous inner light of the Self is ever shining steadily in the chamber of your heart. Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Withdraw the senses. Fix the mind on this supreme light and enjoy the real Deepavali, by attaining illumination of the soul.
He who Himself sees all but whom no one beholds, who illumines the intellect, the sun, the moon and the stars and the whole universe but whom they cannot illumine, He indeed is Brahman, He is the inner Self. Celebrate the real Deepavali by living in Brahman, and enjoy the eternal bliss of the soul.
The sun does not shine there, nor do the moon and the stars, nor do lightnings shine and much less fire. All the lights of the world cannot be compared even to a ray of the inner light of the Self. Merge yourself in this light of lights and enjoy the supreme Deepavali.
Many Deepavali festivals have come and gone. Yet the hearts of the vast majority are as dark as the night of the new moon. The house is lit with lamps, but the heart is full of the darkness of ignorance. O man! wake up from the slumber of ignorance. Realise the constant and eternal light of the Soul which neither rises nor sets, through meditation and deep enquiry.
May you all attain full inner illumination! May the supreme light of lights enlighten your understanding! May you all attain the inexhaustible spiritual wealth of the Self! May you all prosper gloriously on the material as well as spiritual planes!
Weblog2001December
[Albert Einstein] : There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
From [Never settle for the best] : ...Give the proper [tools] to a group of [people] who like to make a difference, and they will...
Apart from family and friends, I would like to thank the following people for sharing their thoughts/life and making available usable/useful/enjoyable tools on the web.
* [Joel Spolsky] : [Painless Software Management|http://www.joelonsoftware.com]
Hello [Microsoft]!, please check [Wingdings Om]. Thanks!
[Manish Vaidya] : [Layoff] Lessons
[Larry Page] and [Sergey Brin] are co-founders of [Google]
Inspiration for everyone from [Google] : [Never settle for the best]
[The three most difficult things for a human being]
[Jeremiah Rogers] [:|http://radio.weblogs.com/0001189/2001/12/21.html#a35] ...I'm only 16, so I still have (estimate here) 70-75 years ideally left until I'm outta commission. Think of how much more knowledge I can gain in that time...
The Rhine ferry " Drusus " connects Germany with France. We were on this today
[Rheinmuenster|http://www.rheinmuenster.de/] : The people of Greffern have always operated a ferry service between their town and Drusenheim on the left bank of the river: a pontoon bridge was erected in 1875, followed by the motor ferry "Drusus", which has been providing a free ferry service since 1977.
We saw [Lord of the Rings] yesterday night and at the end, a boy sitting in front of us kept shouting "Was Was Was..." several times ! and I had a similar reaction in my head !
It is the no. 1 movie at http://us.imdb.com/top_250_films
I have an idea: When users rate anything... show them a list of similar objects (with the ratings by them) they have rated already and this will hopefully give them the correct perspective
For eg., I would not rate this movie more than [Blast from the past] overall !
Ofcourse, I liked the scenic shots in [Lord of the Rings]. But It is not the no. 1 movie I have seen from the imdb list !
[Jason Levine] [:|http://q.queso.com/2001/12/21] ...I have to say that there's a lot more hype than there is movie....
The song [Christmas Time] is on the radio often...
[Buckminster Fuller] : "For the first time in history it is now possible to take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. Only ten years ago the ‘more with less’ technology reached the point where this could be done. All humanity now has the option to become enduringly successful."
We are connecting to the net from today with [dsl flat|http://www.billiger-surfen.de/tarifmodelle.php3?name=T-Online&verbindungsnbz=dsl+flat&gueltigab=2001-08-01&gueltigbis=0000-00-00] :-)
I received [Drive10] today. The interface could be better... It could tell us more about what is doing behind the scenes...
[Babylog|http://babyblog.org/] [:|http://babyblog.org/archive/archive.php?12/10/2001_7807035] [W. Bruce Cameron] : [The 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenaged Daughter]
[Extreme Programming] and [Feature Driven Development] : [a short comparison|http://www.togethercommunity.com/coad-letter/Coad-Letter-0070.html] : The Bottom Line in the article is the essence : ...It is important to discover what works for you and your organization. The name of the process you use is not important. What is important is the ability to repeatedly deliver frequent, tangible, working results on time, within budget and with agreed function...
[IBM's Test-Tube Quantum Computer Makes History|http://www.research.ibm.com/resources/news/20011219_quantum.shtml] : ...Scientists at IBM's Almaden Research Center have performed the world's most complicated quantum-computer calculation to date. They caused a billion-billion custom-designed molecules in a test tube to become a seven-qubit quantum computer that solved a simple version of the mathematical problem at the heart of many of today's data-security cryptographic systems...
[An interview|http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/1756/leelozo.htm] with Mr. [Lee Lozowick]
[Russell H. Conwell]'s speech [Acres of Diamonds] concludes ...If you forget everything I have said to you, do not forget this, because it contains more in two lines than all I have said. Bailey says: "He most lives who thinks most, who feels the noblest, and who acts the best."...
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.
The mission of the [North Carolina Christmas Tree Association|http://www.ncchristmastrees.com/] (NCCTA) is to promote "real" Christmas Trees through marketing and education.
(image source : [Why they make Scents|http://www.ncchristmastrees.com/sents.htm]]
[James Allen]'s [As A Man Thinketh] is partly responsible for the creation of the entire personal development industry. Most contemporary PD authors and teachers credit this little book for providing foundation to their principles.
[Jeff Keller] is President of [Attitude is Everything], Inc.
[Albert Einstein] : A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
[Margaret Mead] : Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
[Oliver Breidenbach] [:|http://www.fsomm.com/discuss/msgReader$902] The Spiegel figured out how to use numerology to better remember the Euro to DM exchange rate: 1.9 55 83 If you take the sum of the last two pairs it is 10 and 11, respectively. So, the exchange rate is one point nine, ten, eleven...
[Mira Art] [quotes|http://surprise.editthispage.com/2001/12/16] [Buckminster Fuller] : When I am Working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only of how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.
[Why we have a terrorism problem with our airlines|http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200112/msg00227.html] : ...the FAA had come down hard on the airport only because 1,000 badges was too many, in that regulations permit that airport to have only 500 unaccounted-for access badges....
I have read somewhere that the Western World follow a 'parts per million' culture while the Japanese follow the 'zero defect' culture... and that this is the fundamental difference !
[Cameron Barrett] [:|http://www.camworld.com/journal/2001/12/#17] [The Dave Winer Big Ego Awards|http://www.camworld.com/journal/rants/2001/12/17.html]
[Socrates] : The unexamined life is not worth living
[Aristotle] in [Nicomachean Ethics] : The man who gets angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way and at the right time and for the right length of time, is commended.
[Jason Levine] : [Stanford University Interview|http://www.broaderminds.com/Profiles/Stanford_university/reviews/987553538431.html] : "More important than the workload at Stanford, I find, is the ‘humbling factor’. Basically, if you can gain admission to a school like Stanford, I have no doubt that you can work at the level set by the professors. The problem is more egotistical: can you handle meeting people just as and possibly more intelligent than yourself?"
[Sharon Holdstock] (is a generic love spreader among others) : [Yoga by Shazzie|http://www.stretchmagazine.com/page.php?content=shazzie&pagetitle=Yoga%20by%20Shazzie] - WOW - see the pictures !
(via [PaperQuote]) [Buddha] : A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden.
[Jack Welch]'s Vintage : [Straight from the Gut]
I requested [Brent Simmons] to list all the [Mac OS X applications] used by him. [The answer|http://inessential.com/osxapps.html]. Thanks, Brent.
A visit to their [Garden|http://sheila.inessential.com/garden/] maintained by his wife [Sheila Simmons] is refreshing.
[Saravanan Natarajan] has sent me some (10 !) CDs with Osho's speeches and I have started listening to "Osho about Creativity" and most of the speech is available on the web too...
[Osho] : [CREATIVITY: Unleashing the Forces Within] : ...Creativity means loving whatsoever you do -- enjoying, celebrating it! Maybe nobody comes to know about it -- who is going to praise you for cleaning the floor? History will not take any account of it; newspapers will not publish your name and picture -- but that is irrelevant. You enjoyed it. The value is intrinsic...
[Google] [unveils huge archive of USENET back to 1981|http://www.google.com/googlegroups/archive_announce_20.html]
[First mention|http://www.google.com/googlegroups/archive_announce_20.html] of [Google] is by [Chris Mitchell]. He doesnot actively maintain [The Searcher's Road Less Travelled|http://home.teleport.com/~lensman/roadless.htm]
But, [Chris Mitchell] has a powerful message on his home page for all of mankind - WOW !
It is all the more an important message when I see news like [U.S. Nearing ABM Treaty Withdrawal|http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/nm/20011211/ts/arms_missile_usa_dc_1.html]
[The Masquerade of Charity]
[The Song of the Bird]
[Mortimer Jerome Adler] : The purpose of a liberal education is not to learn how to earn a living, but to learn how to live and enjoy life, especially when not working
[Jean-Paul Sartre] : The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.
[Siva Vaidhyanathan] : [Software Is Free Speech|http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/09/magazine/09SOFTWARE.html] vs [Software] Is [Free Speech]
[Isaiah Berlin] (in [The Hedgehog and the Fox]): There exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision...and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory...The first kind of intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the hedgehogs, the second to the foxes.
[Jim Roepcke] [:|http://jim.roepcke.com/2001/12/09] I've been reading through the [AppleScript] documentation throughout the day today. So far I'm very impressed.
I am also tweaking the [Image Capture] in [AppleScript]
[Albert Einstein] : If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.
[William James] : As the brain changes are continuous, so do all these consciousnesses melt into each other like dissolving views. Properly they are but one protracted consciousness, one unbroken stream.
I received an email response from [Richard P. Gabriel] regarding a spelling mistake on his site and another from [John Patrick] for a similar issue. Nice!
I want the following feature in MS Outlook or any email client for that matter: When I send an email, the tool should prompt me... you have sent a similar email to this person and didnot get a reply ! dont bother !!!
I did something at work which makes me think of the [Elegant Hack] which is being powered by [movabletype] since some days...
Can you put [the fragrance of the rose] into words ?
I was looking for a [Digital Camera] and the winner is [Digital IXUS]. We bought it at [New York Camera] yesterday in person. [Christian Kwyas] is a great sales man. It was (will be) a memorable shopping experience. However Christian should be thankful to [Jeff Keller]'s very useful reviews at [Digital Camera Resource Page]
We already like the camera very very much
Probably [Christian Kwyas] has accumulated lots of [good karma] like [Mark Pilgrim] :-)
Coming from India, I am thinking of tasty [Korma] and Lord Vishnu's [Kurma] Avatar
The [Euro]
[Dave Winer] [:|http://scriptingnews.userland.com/backissues/2001/12/06#l86b0989154cbfbef88f0a30f41b96187] Bug reports should have three parts. 1. Here's what I did. 2. This is what I expected to happen. 3. This is what actually happened. For extra credit, if it's a public Web app, provide a URL. It also couldn't hurt to say what version of the software you're using, what OS, and other things that might make your installation different from others.
[Office XP Error Reporting May Send Sensitive Documents to Microsoft|http://www.ciac.org/ciac/bulletins/m-005.shtml]
[Peter Longo] is [Pratt & Whitney|http://www.pratt-whitney.com/]'s CIO. Pratt & Whitney is a leader in the design, manufacture and support of engines for commercial, military and general aviation aircraft, and space propulsion systems
[Ken Roberts] maintains the [Great Books Index]
[Benjamin Kuipers] has [a possible solution|http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200112/msg00061.html] to the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Found [The End of the World] at his page... which made me goto [RAQ] and found [The Meaning of Life] :-)
Thinking of [Mannheim] ...
[Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict - A Primer|http://www.merip.org/palestine-israel_primer/intro-pal-isr-primer.html]
I want to buy a [Digital Camera]. [Canon PowerShot A20|http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/a20-review/index.html] is on the top of my list... [Jeff Keller] states ...As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the /camera/ and its competitors before you buy!... Do you have any recommendations ?
I am in [The Search for Beauty] in [An English Country Garden|http://www.alfresco.demon.co.uk/]
"For his([Christopher Alexander]) Ph. D. Thesis, later published as the book [Notes on the Synthesis of Form], he was awarded the first Gold Medal for Research by the American Institute of Architects."
[Christopher Alexander]'s [ideas on office furniture and interiors]
[Dan Simmons] in [When Mental Growth Outruns Maturity|http://www.erinyes.org/simmons/interview.html] ...Wabash influenced every part of my life because I learned what being an educated human being meant while I was here...
Pongal
The Sanskrit term "Shankramana" means "to begin to move". The day on which the sun begins to move northwards is called Makara Shankranti. It usually falls in the middle of January.
Among the Tamilians in South India this festival is called the Pongal.
To many people, especially the Tamilians, Makara Shankranti ushers in the New Year. The corn that is newly-harvested is cooked for the first time on that day. Joyous festivities mark the celebration in every home. Servants, farmers and the poor are fed and clothed and given presents of money. On the next day, the cow, which is regarded as the symbol of the Holy Mother, is worshipped. Then there is the feeding of birds and animals.
SALUTATIONS and adorations to the Supreme Lord, the primordial power that divided the year into the four seasons. Salutations to Surya, the Sun-God, who on this great day embarks on his northward journey.
The Sanskrit term "Shankramana" means "to begin to move". The day on which the sun begins to move northwards is called Makara Shankranti. It usually falls in the middle of January.
Among the Tamilians in South India this festival is called the Pongal.
To many people, especially the Tamilians, Makara Shankranti ushers in the New Year. The corn that is newly-harvested is cooked for the first time on that day. Joyous festivities mark the celebration in every home. Servants, farmers and the poor are fed and clothed and given presents of money. On the next day, the cow, which is regarded as the symbol of the Holy Mother, is worshipped. Then there is the feeding of birds and animals.
In this manner the devotee’s heart expands slowly during the course of the celebrations, first embracing with its long arms of love the entire household and neighbours, then the servants and the poor, then the cow, and then all other living creatures. Without even being aware of it, one develops the heart and expands it to such proportions that the whole universe finds a place in it.
As Shankranti is also the beginning of the month, Brahmins offer oblations to departed ancestors. Thus, all the great sacrifices enjoined upon man find their due place in this grand celebration. The worship of the Cosmic Form of the Lord is so well introduced into this, that every man and woman in India is delightfully led to partake of it without even being aware of it.
To the spiritual aspirants this day has a special significance. The six-month period during which the sun travels northwards is highly favourable to them in their march towards the goal of life. It is as though they are flowing easily with the current towards the Lord. Paramahamsa Sannyasins roam about freely during this period, dispelling gloom from the hearts of all. The Devas and Rishis rejoice at the advent of the new season, and readily come to the aid of the aspirant.
The great Bhishma, the grandfather of the Pandavas, was fatally wounded during the war of the Mahabharata, waited on his deathbed of nails for the onset of this season before finally departing from the earth-plane. Let us on this great day pay our homage to him and strive to become men of firm resolve ourselves!
As already mentioned, this is the Pongal festival in South India. It is closely connected with agriculture. To the agriculturalist, it is a day of triumph. He would have by then brought home the fruits of his patient toil. Symbolically, the first harvest is offered to the Almighty—and that is Pongal. To toil was his task, his duty, but the fruit is now offered to Him—that is the spirit of Karma Yoga.
The master is not allowed to grab all the harvest for himself either. Pongal is the festival during which the landlord distributes food, clothes and money among the labourers who work for him. What a noble act!—It is an ideal you should constantly keep before you, not only ceremoniously on the Pongal day, but at all times.
Be charitable. Be generous. Treat your servants as your bosom-friends and brother workers. This is the keynote of the Pongal festival. You will then earn their loyalty and enduring love.
The day prior to the Makara Shankranti is called the Bhogi festival. On this day, old, worn-out and dirty things are discarded and burnt. Homes are cleaned and white-washed. Even the roads are swept clean and lovely designs are drawn with rice-flour. These practices have their own significance from the point of view of health. But, here I remind you that it will not do to attend to these external things alone. Cleaning the mind of its old dirty habits of thought and feeling is more urgently needed. Burn them up, with a wise and firm resolve to tread the path of truth, love and purity from this holy day onwards. This is the significance of Pongal in the life of the spiritual aspirant.
If you do this, then the Makara Shankranti has a special significance for you. The sun, symbolising wisdom, divine knowledge and spiritual light, which receded from you when you revelled in the darkness of ignorance, delusion and sensuality, now joyously turns on its northward course and moves towards you to shed its light and warmth in greater abundance, and to infuse into you more life and energy.
In fact, the sun itself symbolises all that the Pongal festival stands for. The message of the sun is the message of light, the message of unity, of impartiality, of true selflessness, of the perfection of the elements of Karma Yoga. The sun shines on all equally. It is the true benefactor of all beings. Without the sun, life would perish on earth. It is extremely regular and punctual in its duties, and never claims a reward or craves for recognition. If you imbibe these virtues of the sun, what doubt is there that you will shine with equal divine lustre!
He who dwells in the sun, whom the sun does not know, whose body the sun is, and by whose power the sun shines—He is the Supreme Self, the Indweller, the immortal Essence. Tat Twam Asi—“That thou art”. Realise this and be free here and now on this holy Pongal or Makara Shankranti day. This is my humble Pongal prayer to you all.
On the Shankranti day, sweets, puddings and sweet rice are prepared in every home, especially in South India. The pot in which the rice is cooked is beautifully adorned with tumeric leaves and roots, the symbols of auspiciousness. The cooking is done by the women of the household with great faith and devotion, feeling from the bottom of their hearts that it is an offering unto the Lord. When the milk in which the rice is being cooked boils over, the ladies and the children assemble round the pot and shout “Pongalo Pongal!” with great joy and devotion. Special prayers are offered in temples and houses. Then the people of the household gather together and partake of the offerings in an atmosphere of love and festivity.
There is family re-union in all homes. Brothers renew their contacts with their married sisters by giving them presents.
The farmer is lovingly greeted by the landlord and is given presents of grain, clothes and money.
On the next day, the herds of cows are adorned beautifully, fed and worshipped. In some villages the youth demonstrate their valour by taking “the bull by the horn” (and often win their brides thereby!). It is a great day for the cattle.
On the same day, young girls prepare various special dishes—sweet rice, sour rice, rice with coconut—and take them to the bank of a river or tank. They lay some leaves on the ground and place on them balls of the various preparations for the fish, birds, and other creatures. It is an extremely colourful ceremony. The crows come down in large numbers and partake of the food. All the time a valuable lesson is driven into our minds—“Share what you have with all”. The crow will call others before beginning to eat.
Both these days, which are family re-union days, are regarded as being inauspicious for travel. This is to prevent us from going away from home on those days.
When you celebrate the Shankranti or Pongal in this manner, your sense of value changes. You begin to understand that your real wealth is the goodwill and friendship of your relatives, friends, neighbours and servants; that your wealth is the land on which your food grows, the cattle which help you in agriculture, and the cow which gives you milk. You begin to have greater love and respect for them and for all living beings—the crows, the fish and all other creatures.
In Maharashtra and in North India, spiritual aspirants attach much importance to Makara Shankranti. It is the season chosen by the Guru for bestowing his Grace on the disciple. In the South, too, it should be noted that it was about this time that Mahadeva favoured several of the Rishis by blessing them with His beatific vision.
Shree Mahasivarathri
THIS FALLS on the 13th (or 14th) day of the dark half of Phalgun (February-March). The name means “the night of Shiva”. The ceremonies take place chiefly at night. This is a festival observed in honour of Lord Shiva. Shiva was married to Parvati on this day.
People observe a strict fast on this day. Some devotees do not even take a drop of water. They keep vigil all night. The Shiva Lingam is worshipped throughout the night by washing it every three hours with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc., whilst the chanting of the Mantra Om Namah Shivaya continues. Offerings of bael leaves are made to the Lingam. Bael leaves are very sacred as, it is said, Lakshmi resides in them.
Hymns in praise of Lord Shiva, such as the Shiva Mahimna Stotra of Pushpadanta or Ravana’s Shiva Tandava Stotra are sung with great fervour and devotion. People repeat the Panchakshara Mantra, Om Namah Shivaya. He who utters the Names of Shiva during Shivaratri, with perfect devotion and concentration, is freed from all sins. He reaches the abode of Shiva and lives there happily. He is liberated from the wheel of births and deaths. Many pilgrims flock to the places where there are Shiva temples.
Karthigai
ON THE full moon day of the month of Kartigai (November-December) which falls on the ascension of the Kritigai star, the Hindus celebrate the Kartigai Deepam. It is on this day that the huge beacon is lit on the holy hill Arunachala, in South India.
Once Lord Shiva assumed the form of a hill at Tiruvannamalai in South India. Here He quelled the pride of Brahma and Vishnu who were quarelling as to their relative greatness. One day, when Lord Shiva was in meditation, Parvati left Him and went to the hill of Arunachala. There She performed penance. She was the guest of the sage Gautama. It was during Her penance here that Mahishasura was killed by Durga hidden by Parvati. Parvati saw Shiva as Arunachalesvara. She was taken back by the Lord to His side, and made His Ardhangini once more, that is, She occupied half of the body of the Lord.
Arunachalesvara is Tejo Lingam. Arunachala or the Tiruvannamalai Hill is the place that represents the fire element. (The five elements are represented by five holy places in India.)
When the light on the top of the Tiruvannamalai Hill is unveiled on the Kartigai Deepam day, people see the big light and worship it. They recite again and again in a loud voice “Harohara”. The esoteric meaning is that he who sees the light of lights that is burning eternally in the chambers of his heart through constant meditation attains immortality. The light on the Arunachala brings the message to you that the Self or Lord Shiva is self-effulgent, He is the light of lights.
On the Kartigai Deepam day in South India, people make bonfires in front of temples in the evening. It is said that Lord Shiva burnt the chariots of several demons who were torturing sages and celestials. This bonfire symbolises this legend.
People place rows of earthen lamps in front of their houses on the evening of Kartigai Deepam and worship the Lord. They also light a variety of fireworks.
Annihilate the three impurities, namely, egoism, selfish action and delusion. Burn the mind, senses and the desires in the fire of knowledge of the Self or Shiva-Jnanam. Attain full illumination and behold the light of lights, which illumines the mind, intellect, sun, moon, stars, lightning and the fire. This is real Kartigai Deepam.
May the light of lights illumine you all! May Lord Shiva bless you with more light! May you merge in this supreme light and attain the eternal abode of bliss and immortality!
Holi
IN DAYS of yore, there were communities of cannibals in India. They caused much havoc. They threatened the lives of many innocent people. One of them was Holika or Putana. She took immense delight in devouring children. Sri Krishna destroyed her and thus saved the little children. Even today, the effigy or figure of Holika is burnt in the fire. In South India, the clay figure of Cupid is burnt. This is the origin of the great festival of Holi.
It begins about ten days before the full moon of the month Phalgun (February-March), but is usually only observed for the last three or four days, terminating with the full moon. This is the spring festival of the Hindus. In the spring season all the trees are filled with sweet-smelling flowers. They all proclaim the glory and everlasting beauty of God. They inspire you with hope, joy and a new life, and stir you on to find out the creator and the Indweller, who is hiding Himself in these forms.
Holi is known by the name of Kamadahana in South India, the day on which Cupid was burnt by Lord Siva.
Another legend has it that once upon a time an old woman’s grandchild was to be sacrificed to a female demon named Holika. A Sadhu advised that abuse and foul language would subdue Holika. The old woman collected many children and made them abuse Holika in foul language. The demon fell dead on the ground. The children then made a bonfire of her remains.
Connected to this legend of the demon Holika is Bhakta Prahlad’s devotion to Lord Narayana, and his subsequent escape from death at the hands of Holika. Prahlad’s father, Hiranyakashipu, punished him in a variety of ways to change his devotional mind and make him worldly-minded. He failed in his attempts. At last he ordered his sister, Holika, who had a boon to remain unburnt even in fire, to take Prahlad on her lap and enter into the blazing flames. Holika did so. She vanished, but Prahlad remained untouched and laughing. He was not affected by the fire on account of the Grace of Lord Narayana.
This same scene is enacted every year to remind people that those who love God shall be saved, and they that torture the devotee of God shall be reduced to ashes. When Holika was burnt, people abused her and sang the glories of the Lord and of His great devotee, Prahlad. In imitation of that, people even today use abusive language, but unfortunately forget to sing the praises of the Lord and His devotee!
In North India, people play joyfully with coloured water. The uncle sprinkles coloured water on his nephew. The niece applies coloured powder on her aunt’s face. Brothers and sisters and cousins play with one another.
Huge bundles of wood are gathered and burnt at night, and everywhere one hears shouts of “Holi-ho! Holi-ho!” People stand in the streets and sprinkle coloured water on any man who passes by, be he a rich man or an officer. There is no restriction on this day. It is like the April Fool’s Day of the Europeans. People compose and sing special Holi songs.
On the festival day, people clean their homes, remove all dirty articles from around the house and burn them. Disease-breeding bacteria are thereby destroyed. The sanitary condition of the locality is improved. During the festival, boys dance about in the streets. People play practical jokes with passers-by. A bonfire is lit towards the conclusion of the festival. Games representing the frolics of the young Krishna take place joyously around a fire.
On the last day of Holi, people take a little fire from this bonfire to their homes. They believe that their homes will be rendered pure, and their bodies free from disease.
Nowadays, people are found indulging in all sorts of vices in the name of the Holi festival. Some drink intoxicating liquor like toddy and fall unconscious on the roads. They indulge in obscene speech as a result of drinking. They lose respect for their elders and masters. They waste their money in drink and dice-play. These evils should be totally eradicated.
Festivals like Holi have their own spiritual value. Apart from the various amusements, they create faith in God if properly observed. Hindu festivals always have a spiritual significance. They wean man away from sensual pleasures and take him gradually to the spiritual path and divine communion. People perform havan and offer the new grains that are harvested to the gods before using them.
There should be worship of God, religious gatherings and Kirtan of the Lord’s Names on such occasions, not merely the sprinkling of coloured water and lighting of bonfires. These functions are to be considered most sacred and spent in devotional prayers, visiting holy places, bathing in sacred waters, and Satsang with great souls. Abundant charity should be done to the poor. Then only can Holi be said to have been properly celebrated. The devotees of the Lord should remember the delightful pastimes of the Lord on such happy occasions.
All great Hindu festivals have religious, social and hygienic elements in them. Holi is no exception. Every season has a festival of its own. Holi is the great spring festival of India. Being an agricultural country, India’s two big festivals come during the harvest time when the barns and granaries of our farmers are full and they have reason to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour. The harvest season is a festive season all over the world.
Man wants relaxation and change after hard work. He needs to be cheered when he is depressed on account of work and anxieties. Festivals like Holi supply him with the real food and tonic to restore his cheer and peace of mind.
The religious element in the Holi festival consists of worship of Krishna. In some places it is also called the Dol Yatra. The word dol literally means “a swing”. An image of Sri Krishna as a babe is placed in a little swing-cradle and decorated with flowers and painted with coloured powders. The pure, innocent frolics of little Krishna with the merry milkmaids (Gopis) of Brindavan are commemorated. Devotees chant the Name of Krishna and sing Holi-songs relating to the frolics of little Krishna with the Gopis.
The social element during Holi is the uniting or “embracing” of the great and the small, of the rich and the poor. It is also the uniting of equals. The festival teaches us to “let the dead bury the dead”. We should forget the outgoing year’s ill-feelings and begin the new year with feelings of love, sympathy, co-operation and equality with all. We should try to feel this oneness or unity with the Self also.
Holi also means “sacrifice”. Burn all the impurities of the mind, such as egoism, vanity and lust, through the fire of devotion and knowledge. Ignite cosmic love, mercy, generosity, selflessness, truthfulness and purity through the fire of Yogic practice. This is the real spirit of Holi. Rise from the mire of stupidity and absurdity and dive deep into the ocean of divinity.
The call of Holi is to always keep ablaze the light of God-love shining in your heart. Inner illumination is the real Holi. The spring season is the manifestation of the Lord, according to the Bhagavad Gita. Holi is said there to be His heart.
Gokulashtami
THIS IS THE birthday of Lord Krishna, the eighth Divine Incarnation. It falls on the 8th day of the dark half of the month of Bhadrapada (August-September). This is one of the greatest of all Hindu festivals. Lord Krishna was born at midnight. A twenty-four hour fast is observed on this day, which is broken at midnight.
Temples are decorated for the occasion. Kirtans are sung, bells are rung, the conch is blown, and Sanskrit hymns are recited in praise of Lord Krishna. At Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, special spiritual gatherings are organised at this time. Pilgrims from all over India attend these festive gatherings.
The Lord appeared when the moon entered the house of Vrishabha at the constellation of the star Rohini, on Wednesday, the 8th day of the second fortnight of the month of Sravana, which corresponds to the month of Bhadrapada Krishnapaksha according to the Barhaspatyamana, in the year of Visvavasu, 5,172 years ago (from 1945), which means 3227 B.C.
Study the Bhagavatam and the Pancharatras, which are equal to the Upanishads. You will know all about the glory of Lord Krishna, His Lilas and superhuman deeds. The eighth Avatara, Krishna, who has become the Beloved of India and the world at large, had a threefold objective: to destroy the wicked demons, to play the leading role in the great war fought on the battlefield of Kurukshetra (where he delivered His wonderful message of the Gita) and to become the centre of a marvellous development of the Bhakti schools of India.
There is no true science except devotion to Lord Krishna. That man is wealthy indeed who loves Radha and Krishna. There is no sorrow other than lack of devotion to Krishna. He is the foremost of the emancipated who loves Krishna. There is no right course, except the society of Sri Krishna’s devotees. The Name, virtues and Lilas (divine pastimes) of Krishna are the chief things to be remembered. The Lotus Feet of Radha and Krishna are the chief objects of meditation.
Sri Krishna is the ocean of bliss. His soul-stirring Lilas, which are the wonder of wonders, are its waves. The honeyed music of His flute attracts the minds of His devotees from all three regions. His unequalled and unsurpassed wealth of beauty amazes the animate and the inanimate beings. He adorns His friends with His incomparable love.
His palms bear the signs of a lotus and discus, the right sole of His feet of a flag, lotus, thunderbolt, an iron goad, barley seed, and the Swastika. His left sole has the rainbow, triangle, water-pot, crescent, sky, fish, and a cow’s footprint. His Form is composed of condensed universal consciousness and bliss. His Body pervades the entire cosmos.
Devotion is the only means of attaining Lord Krishna. Bhakti kindles love for the Lord. When love is directed towards Krishna, man is freed from the bondage of the world.
Though Lord Krishna appeared in a human body, He had a divine body not composed of the five elements. He did not take any birth here in the usual sense of the term. He did not die. He appeared and disappeared through His Yoga Maya as He has declared in the Gita. This is a secret, known only to His devotees, Yogis and sages.
His enchanting form with flute in hand is worshipped in myriads of homes in India. It is a form to which is poured out devotion and supreme love from the hearts of countless devotees not only in India but also in the West. Millions of spiritual seekers worship Him and repeat His Mantra, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.
Lord Krishna was great in knowledge, great in emotion, great in action, all at once. The scriptures have not recorded any life more full, more intense, more sublime and grander than the life of Sri Krishna.
Krishna has played various roles during His stay in the world. He was Arjuna’s charioteer. He was an excellent statesman. He was a master musician; he gave lessons even to Narada in the art of playing the veena. The music of His flute thrilled the hearts of the Gopis and everyone else. He was a cowherd in Brindavan and Gokul. He exhibited miraculous powers even as a child. He killed many demons. He revealed His Comic Form to His mother, Yasoda. He performed the Rasa Lila, the secret of which can only be understood by devotees like Narada, Gauranga, Radha and the Gopis. He taught the supreme Truth of Yoga, Bhakti and Vedanta to Arjuna and Uddhava. He had mastered every one of the sixty-four fine arts. For all these reasons He is regarded as a full and complete manifestation of God.
Incarnations of God appear for special reasons under special circumstances. Whenever there is much unrighteousness, whenever confusion and disorder set in on account of unrighteousness and baffle the well-ordered progress of mankind, whenever the balance of human society is upset by selfish, ruthless and cruel beings, whenever irreligion and unrighteousness prevail, whenever the foundations of social organisations are undermined, the great Incarnation of God appears in order to re-establish righteousness and to restore peace.
An Incarnation is the descent of God for the ascent of man. A ray from the Cosmic Being in His potential state of manifestation descends on earth with mighty powers to keep up the harmony of the universe. The work done by the Incarnation of God and His teachings produce a benign influence on human beings and help them in their upward divine unfoldment and Self-realisation.
The Incarnation comes to reveal the divine nature of man and makes him rise above the petty materialistic life of passion and egoism.
The greatest manifestations are called Incarnations proper. Rishis, Munis, prophets, sons of God and messengers of God are minor manifestations.
The Incarnations usually come with their particular or favourite groups or companions. Lord Rama came with Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. Lord Krishna came with Balarama, Devas and Rishis. Sanaka came with Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Sanatsujata. Some, like Sri Shankara and Ramanuja, come as teachers and spiritual leaders. Some, like Chaitanya, are born to instill devotion in the hearts of people and turn their minds towards God. The Incarnations proper, like Krishna, come only when there is widespread catastrophe in the world.
On the holy Krishna Janmashtami, the ladies in South India decorate their houses beautifully, ready to welcome the Lord. They prepare various sweetmeats and offer them to the Lord. Butter was Krishna’s favourite, and this is also offered. From the doorway to the inner meditation room of the house the floor is marked with a child’s footprints, using some flour mixed with water. This creates the feeling in them that the Lord’s own Feet have made the mark. They treat the day as one of very great rejoicing. There is recitation of the Bhagavatam, singing and praying everywhere.
The Janmashtami is celebrated at the Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, with the following programme of intense spiritual activity:
1. During the preceding eight days, Japa of Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya is done intensely.
2. Those who can, will recite the Bhagavatam during this period. Others will listen to it being recited.
3. On the birthday itself everyone fasts and spends the whole day in holy communion.
4. Everyone greets others with the holy Mantra, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.
6. There is continuous Satsang from 4a.m. early in the morning till night. Yogis, Sannyasins and learned men discourse upon the glorious life and teachings of the Lord.
7. From sunset people assemble in the elaborately decorated temple and sing the Lord’s Names and glories.
8. Many hymns and portions of the Bhagavatam, especially the Gopika Geetam, are recited.
9. Towards midnight, there is a grand worship of Lord Krishna. The Lord is bathed with milk while His Name is chanted 108 times.
10. This worship concludes with offerings of flowers, waving of lights (Arati), and reading of that portion of the Bhagavatam which deals with the birth of Krishna. This synchronises with midnight, the hour of the Lord’s birth, at which time the murti of the Lord is rocked in a beautifully decorated cradle. After this item, all the assembled devotees partake of the holy prasad or sacrament, and then retire, filled with the Grace and blessings of Lord Krishna.
If you cannot read the whole of the Srimad Bhagavatam during these days, at least you should recite the following four most important verses from the book. The leading two verses and the closing verse are the prologue and the epilogue respectively:
“Hear from Me the most secret knowledge coupled with the essential experience and its component parts.
“May you realise by My Grace, the knowledge of Myself and what form, qualities and actions I am endowed with.
1. “Before creation I alone existed. There was nothing, neither existence nor non-existence. I am that which remains after dissolution.
2. “Understand that to be Maya or illusion which is devoid of any purpose, which is not to be found in the Self and which is unreal like light and darkness.
3. “As the primary elements are amalgamated, with one another and also separate from one another at the same time, so I pervade the whole universe and am also separate from it.
4. “The aspirant should, by the method of positive and negative, know that thing which exists always and everywhere.
“Experience this truth through the highest superconscious state so that you will not be disturbed even by illusory objects”.
There is another beautiful verse in the Bhagavatam which you can recite daily: “In days of yore, the Lord, born of Devaki, brought up in the house of Yasoda, killed the wicked Putana of illusive form and lifted the Govardhana hill, killed Kamsa and the sons of the Kuru race, and protected the sons of Kunti. Thus is recited the essence of the ancient Bhagavat Purana consisting of the nectarine stories of the deeds of Lord Krishna”.
May the blessings of Lord Krishna and Sri Radha be upon you all!
Lord of the Rings
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The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules the World
[Articles] > The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules the World
An Inspired Talk delivered by [Gurudeva] Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami on his 54th Jayanti, on January 5, 1980, at the Kadavul Hindu Temple in Hawaii, enjoining the modern Hindu woman to not forsake her dharma but protect the home and nurture the family as her gift of love to the next generation. Hmmm! It seems not to have gone out of date much.
Anbe Sivamayam Satyame Parasivam! Tonight we are going to talk about a vast subject, one that is important to every Hindu family: stri dharma, the dharma of the Hindu wife and mother. In Sanskrit stri means "woman." Dharma is a rich word which encompasses many meanings: the path to God Siva, piety, goodness, duty, obligation and more. Stri dharma is the woman's natural path, while purusha dharma, we can say, is the man's.
There is much controversy about the role of the woman in society these days. In the West, a strong women's liberation movement has been at work for many years, and now there has arisen an equally vigorous opposition which defends traditional values. The so-called struggle for women's liberation has affected women the world over--in India, Iran, Europe, Japan and elsewhere. In North America, I began a campaign informally called the Hindu women's liberation movement. It is not what you might expect. Its purpose is to liberate our Hindu women from the liberators, to save them from worldliness and to allow them to fulfill their natural dharma as mother and wife. For a religious woman, being liberated starts with resigning from her job and coming home. Once she is home, she is liberated and liberated and liberated. Working in the world keeps her in the outer dimensions of consciousness, while being at home allows her to live in the depth of her being. I have seen this work many times. There are so many distractions and influences in the world today that divert women away from being a wife and mother. In the West a woman is a wife first and a mother second, but in the East her duties as a mother are foremost. She is trained from early childhood in the arts of homemaking, trained by her mother who was trained in exactly the same way by her mother, and so on right down through history. It's an old pattern.
The Hindu woman is looked upon as most precious. Two thousand years ago Saint Tiruvalluvar observed: "What does a man lack if his wife is worthy? And what does he possess if she is lacking worth?" There is more respect in the East for women and for their role in society. Here in the West, the woman is not fully appreciated. Her contribution is underrated and misunderstood. In fact, this is one of the reasons she seeks fulfillment and recognition in other spheres, because Western society has become oblivious of her unique and vital role. Abused by neglect and disregard, she seeks other avenues where she may be appreciated, recognized and rewarded.
Don't forget that in the East the ties of the extended family are very close. Women live in a community, surrounded by younger and older women, often living in the same house. They enjoy a rewarding life which includes helping the younger ones and being helped by those who are more mature. Several generations work together in sharing the joys as well as the burdens of household culture. It is different in the West. Women here usually do not have the advantages of close association with other family members. Naturally, they become a little lonely, especially if they do not have a religious community of friends. They get lonely and want to get out in the world and enjoy life a little. This is another reason women leave the home. It is very unfortunate.
In the East there is a better balance of the masculine and feminine forces. In the West the masculine is too strong, too dominant. The feminine energies need to be allowed greater expression. But that does not mean women should start doing what men do. No. That only confuses the forces more. A better balance must be found. In the East the woman is protected. She is like a precious gem. You don't leave it unattended. You protect it. You guard it well because you don't wish to lose it. Hindu women are guarded well. They are not allowed to become worldly. They are not exposed to the looks and thoughts of a base public, nor must they surrender their modesty to contend with business affairs. She can be perfectly feminine, expressing her natural qualities of gentleness, intuitiveness, love and modesty. The home and family are the entire focus of a Hindu woman's life.
Many of you here tonight are too young to know that this was also the pattern in the West until about seventy-five years ago. Before World War I, women were very strict in the West. It was that war and the one that followed that broke down the ancient roles of men and women. The men were taken away from industry by the army, and women were forced out of the home into the factories and businesses so that production could continue. Earlier they had been protected, seldom seen unaccompanied in public. Throughout history, women had been the caretakers of the home and the defenders of virtue. They valued their purity, their chastity, and were virgins when they married. Many people don't know that the old values were followed most strictly up until 1915 or so. Then the two world wars broke up the family and disturbed the balance between men and women. For the first time, women were seen alone in public. For the first time, they left the home and competed with men for their jobs.
I speak often of the change humanity is going through in moving out of the agricultural era and into the technological age. This change has affected the dharma of the woman and the dharma of the man in an interesting way. During the tens of thousands of years of the agricultural age, families lived and labored mostly on farms or in craft guilds. The entire family worked on the farm. The men all worked in the fields; the women and children worked in the home. Children were a great asset. More children meant more help, a bigger farm. There were many chores that a young boy or girl could do. When harvest time came, everyone joined in. It was a one team, and everyone contributed. When the crop was sold, that was the income for a combined effort from all members--men, women and even children. In a very real sense, everyone was earning the money, everyone was economically important.
In the technological era, only the man of the house earns the family income. Everyone else spends it. The husband goes to work in a factory or large company office while his wife and children stay at home. There is not much they can do to help him during the day with his work. His work and his wife's are not as closely related as in the old days. He is the provider, the producer now; she and the children are consumers. Because the children cannot help much, they have become more of an economic liability than an asset. This, coupled with the population problems on the Earth, devalues the economic importance of the woman's traditional role as wife and mother. Whereas raising children and taking care of the farmhouse used to be a woman's direct and vital contribution toward the family's livelihood and even the survival of the human race, today it is not. Whereas they used to be partners in a family farm business, today he does all the earning and she feels like a dependent. The answer is not to have women join their men in the factories and corporations. The answer is to bring traditional religious values into the technological era, to find a new balance of karma that allows for the fulfillment of both the man's and the woman's dharma.
When young couples marry, I help them write down their vows to one another. He must promise to support her, to protect her, to give her a full and rewarding life. She must promise to care for him, to manage the home, to maintain the home shrine and to raise fine children. I ask them each to respect the other's realm, to never mentally criticize the other and to make religion the central focus of their life together. I ask the young bride to stay in the home, to be a little shy of involvement in the world.
A mother's place is within the home and not out in the world working. When she is in the home all day, she brings love and security to the children, sensitivity and stability to the husband. By raising her children, she changes the course of history. How does she do that? She raises strong children, good and intelligent children. They will grow up to be the great men and women in the community, the leaders of the nation. They will be the farmers, artists, businessmen, the teachers, the doctors, the lawyers, the architects, the presidents and, most importantly, the spiritual leaders. They will be the mothers, the homemakers and child-raisers, scientists and inventors, pioneers and poets, artists and sculptors and creators in all dimensions of life. It is such men and women who change the course of human history. This is the great power held by the mother and by no one else: to properly mold the mind and character of her children. And she trains her daughters to do the same by example and gentle guidance.
Of course, she also holds the opposite power, expressed through neglect, to allow her children to grow up on their own, on the streets where they will learn a base life. Such children will as surely change society and human history, but negatively. They will be the common men and women, or fall into mental and emotional abysses, there to express man's instinctive nature and become the exemplars of violence and lust, of dependence and crime. The very direction of humankind is right there in the early years, to be turned toward a great potential through love and attentiveness or allowed to decay through neglect. The mother is the child's first guru, and she alone can shape the mind in those impressionable years. So, you can all see the truth in the old saying: "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."
Take the case of a mother who is at home every day, morning and night, attending to her children. As she rocks the cradle, her love and energy radiate out to the infant who then feels a natural peacefulness and security. She has time for the child, time to sing sweet lullabies and console when the tears come, time to teach about people, about the world, about the little things in growing up, time to cuddle for no reason except to express her love. On the other hand, the working mother has no time to do extra things. When the infant cries, she may, out of her own frustrations of the day, become impatient and scold him, demanding that he keep quiet. "I told you to be quiet!" she shouts. The infant doesn't even understand English yet. You can imagine this helpless child's feelings as he receives an emotional blast of anger and frustration directed toward his gentle form. Where is he to turn? He cannot find refuge even in his mother's arms. What will the next generation be like if all the children are raised under such circumstances? Will it be strong and self-assured? Will it radiate kindness to others, never having had kindness given to it? Will it be patient and understanding? No. It is a proven fact that most of the people in prison were neglected or beaten as children. It is also a proven fact that nearly all parents who mistreat their children were themselves mistreated by their parents. Unless mothers care for and love their children, society will inherit an entire generation of frustrated adults who were once frustrated children. These will later be the people who rule the world. Then what happens? They in turn raise their children in the same manner, for that is the only example of parenthood they have. They will think that neglect is natural, that children can get along on their own from an early age or be raised by a governess or nurse or at a day-care center. It's a circle: a childhood of neglect produces a bitter adult life; a childhood of love and trust produces a loving and happy adult life.
We learn so many important things from the mother. This learning is not just from the things she explains to us, but from the way she lives her life. If she is patient, we learn patience. If she is angry and unhappy, then we learn to be angry and unhappy. How wonderful it is for a mother to be in the home and give her children the great gifts of life by her example. She can teach them so many things, bring them into profound understandings about the world around them and offer them basic values and points of view that will sustain them throughout their life. Her gift of love is directly to the child, but indirectly it is a gift to all of humanity, isn't it? A child does not learn much from the father until he is older, perhaps eight or nine, or ten years of age.
Let me tell you a sad story. We have a book in our library which describes a plan, made by the Christians, to destroy Hinduism in Sri Lanka and India. One of their major tactics is to get the Hindu women out of the homes and working in the world. They knew that the spiritual force within the home is created by the unworldly woman. They knew that a secure woman makes for a secure home and family, a secure husband and a secure religion. They knew that the Hindu woman is the key to the perpetuation of Hinduism as long as she is in the home. If the woman is in the home, if she is happy and content and the children are nurtured and raised properly, then the astral beings around the home will be devonic, friendly and beneficial. But if she is out of the home and the husband is out of the home, the protective force-field around the home disintegrates, allowing all kinds of astral asuric beings to enter. Such a neglected home becomes inhabited by base, asuric beings on the lower astral plane. You cannot see these beings, but they are there, and you can sense their presence. Things just don't feel right in a home inhabited by negative forces. You have the desire to leave such a home as soon as you enter it. The children absorb these vibrations, these feelings. Children are open and psychically sensitive to such influences, with little means of self-protection. They will become disturbed, and no one will know the reason why. They will be crying and even screaming. They will be constantly disobedient. Why should they become disobedient? There is no positive, protective force field of religion established by the mother. This leaves the inner force field vulnerable to negative and confusing forces of all kinds, especially in modern, overpopulated cities where destructive psychic influences are so strong. These negative vibrations are penetrating the inner atmosphere of the home, and the children are psychic enough to pick them up and suffer.
Religion begins in the home under the mother's influence and instruction. The mother goes to the temple to get strong. That is the reason Hindus live near a temple. They go to the temple to gain the strength from the shakti of the Deity, and they return to the home where they maintain a similar vibration in which to raise the next generation to be staunch and wonderful citizens of the world, to bring peace on Earth, to keep peace on Earth. There is an ancient Tamil proverb which says one should not live in a city which has no temple.
If a child is screaming in its cradle, and the baby sitter is yelling at him and couldn't care less about his feelings, and the mother is out working, that child is not a candidate for peace on Earth. That child is going to keep things confused, as they are today. So, it's all in the hands of the mother; it's not in the hands of the father. Religion and the future of society lie solely in the hands of the mother. It is in the hands of the father to allow or not to allow the mother to be under another man's mind out in the world.
Just as the two world wars took women out of the home, so did another recent change affect mankind. When the automobile came, people forgot about breeding. The automobile did one terrible thing: it made people forget how to breed and how to take care of one another. When people had horses, horses were a part of the family. People had to care for their horses and in the process learned to care for one another. People also had to breed their horses, and in that process learned about the value of intelligent breeding. In those days, you often heard of the "well-bred" person. You don't hear of the well-bred person anymore. People no longer consider that humans, too, are involved in the natural process of breeding. They have become forgetful of these important laws, and this has led to lack of discipline, to bodies indiscriminately creating more bodies. Who is living in them nobody quite knows. That's what we, as a society, forgot when the automobile replaced the horse. When you had a horse, you had to feed it, you had to train it, curry it, stable it and breed it. In breeding it, you had to choose a stud for your mare or find a suitable mare for your stallion. The qualities on both sides were closely observed, and the combination of genetics consciously planned. It was, therefore, natural for people in those days to seek proper mates for their children, and the results were the vital, creative and industrious children of the children. As a civilization, we are slowly forgetting such things, being more careless about our children's future, about their lives and minds.
Television has not helped the matter. In fact, it has virtually stopped the proper education of the child in those communities where it is watched for hours each day. Instead of developing a curiosity by adventuring for hours through a forest or climbing a tree, instead of discovering the wonders of nature and art and music, instead of becoming involved in sports and hobbies, children are mentally carried along by television stories through positive and negative states of mind. They become uncreative, inactive, never learning to use their own minds. Not all television is negative. Some of it can be quite educational; but hours and hours each day of passive absorption are not good for the child's mental and emotional development. Children need to be active, to involve themselves in a wide variety of experiences. If the mother is there, she can intelligently guide their television, being careful that they do not get in the habit of watching it for hours on end, and watching that bold sex, violence and other bad influences are not a daily experience. When the program is over, she can send them out to play. Of course, if she is gone, they will watch anything and everything. For the young, television is one of the most senseless pastimes there is, carrying the mind further and further away from the true Self. I think you will all agree that our values, the values found in the holy Vedas, Tirukural and other sacred scriptures are not found on television. Instead, TV gives our children a brutal and unbalanced view of life which distorts in their minds how life really is. These are very serious questions. It is the mother who protects her children from negative influences, guiding their young minds into positive channels of expression.
Take the case of a farmer who raises livestock, who milks cows and goats. He works hard. He gets up early and takes care of his animals. He cannot succeed if he is also working part-time in the grocery store downtown. He just can't do it. Those animals need attention. There is no sensible man who would run a farm, with cows and goats and chickens, and not be there to take care of them, because those animals need a lot of help. He stays there and takes care of his business. He is a farmer and that is his duty, and he knows it.
Well, what's more important than the child? He needs 24-hour-a-day care. He is learning to walk, to speak, to think. He falls down and needs consoling. He catches the flu and needs to be nursed back to health. It is the mother's duty to provide that care. No one else is going to do it for her. No one else can do it for her. She brought that child into the world, and she must prepare that child for a positive and rewarding life. If the farmer neglects his animals, he creates a karma. The animals suffer. The farm suffers. The community suffers when the farm fails, and the man himself suffers. There is a grave karma, too, for the woman who neglects her stri dharma, who goes out into the world and does not nurture the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of her children. She knows this within herself, but she may be influenced by ill-advised people, or by a mass movement that tells her that she has only one life to live and that she cannot find fulfillment in the home but must express herself, venture out, seek her own path, her own fortune. You have all heard these ideas. I tell you that they are wrong. They spell the disillusionment of the mother who heeds them, then the disintegration of the family that is sacrificed by her absence. Finally, they result in her own unhappiness as she despairs at the loss suffered by her family and herself.
From the point of view of the Second World, or astral plane, the home is the family temple, and the wife and mother is in charge of that spiritual environment. Man can come into that sanctum sanctorum but should not bring the world into it. He will naturally find a refuge in the home if she is doing her duty. He will be able to regain his peace of mind there, renew himself for the next day in the stressful situations that the world is full of. In this technological age a man needs this refuge. He needs that inner balance in his life. When he enters that sanctuary and she is in her soul body and the child is in its soul body, then he becomes consciously conscious in his soul body. He leaves the conscious mind, which is a limited, external state of mind and not a balanced state of mind. He enters the intuitive mind. He gets immediate and intuitive answers to his worldly problems. How can he not be successful in his purusha dharma in the outside world when he has the backing of a good wife? She is naturally perceptive, naturally intuitive. She balances out his intellect, softens the impact of the forces which dash against his nervous system from morning to night. Encouragement and love naturally radiate out from her as she fulfills stri dharma. Without these balancing elements in his life, a man becomes too externalized, too instinctive and sometimes brutal.
If a woman is working, she cannot provide this balance. She has to start thinking and acting like a man. She has to become a little harder, create a protective shell around her emotions. Then the home loses its balance of the masculine and the feminine forces. Take for example the situation in which the wife rushes home from work fifteen minutes before the husband. She's upset. The children come over from grandmother's house or she tells the baby sitter to go home. She scurries to prepare something before he comes home, then rushes to get herself looking halfway decent. Emotionally upset, she tries to calm herself, tries to relax and regain her composure. Her astral body is upset. The children's astral bodies are upset. The husband enters this agitated environment--upset by being in the world anyway--and he becomes more disturbed. He was looking forward to a quiet evening. He feels neglected, disappointed, and that leads him to become distraught, even angry. No wonder he beats his wife and abuses his child. He's mad. He gets more and more disturbed until there is nothing left to do but walk out. It's a totally impossible situation. Furthermore, it's not going to get better but exceedingly worse.
The situation I have just described is one of the main reasons that marriages today have become less stable, that so many married couples--sixty to seventy percent, I'm told--are experiencing difficulties and breaking up. People never get married with the intent of breaking up. Never. The forces do it. You put two magnets together one way and they attract one another. Turn one around, and they repel each other. The same force that brought the people together, when it is not handled right, makes them pull apart and hate each other. They can't see eye to eye. Then to make up, they go out to dinner to talk it over--in another frustrating asuric situation, as far out in the world as they can get--to try to make up. When that doesn't help, they come home, still frustrated. If they went to the nearby temple and worshiped the Deity together, that would help. They would return home in a different state of mind, and discover that their vibration had changed. Why does it help to go to the temple? Because the Deity is in the temple. The Deity is there to adjust the forces of the inner nerve system, to actually change the forces of mind and emotion.
In the home the mother is likened to the Shakti Deity. She is the power of the home. None other. So she has to be there. She has to be treated right. She has to be given the things she needs. It is the man's duty to provide for her and for the children. The husband should provide her with all the fine things, with a good house which she then makes into a home, with gold and jewels and clothes, gold hanging down until her ears hurt, more bracelets, more things to keep her in the home so she is feeling secure and happy. In return she provides a refuge, a serene corner of the world where he can escape from the pressures of daily life, where he can regain his inner perspective, perform his spiritual sadhana and meditations then enjoy his family. Thus, she brings happiness and peace of mind to the family, to the community and to the world.
This working together of the home and the temple brings up the culture and the religion within the family. The family goes to the temple; the temple blesses the family's next project. The mother returns home. She keeps an oil lamp burning in the shrine room on the altar. It's a beautiful thing. All this happens because her astral body is not fretted by the stresses and strains of a worldly life, not polluted by the lustful thoughts of other men directed to her. She is not living in the emotional astral body. She is living in her peaceful soul body of love, fulfilling her dharma and radiating the soulful presence called sannidhya. She was born to be a woman, and that's how a woman should behave.
If she does not do her dharmic duty--this means the duty of birth--then she accrues bad karma. Every time she leaves the home to go out to work, she is making kukarma. Yes, she is. That negative karma will reflect on her astral body and on her husband's astral body and on the astral bodies of their children, causing them to become insecure.
The Christian-Judaic-Islamic idea of a one life, that "you have to get everything out of this life because when you're gone, you're gone, so grab all the gusto that you can out of life" has given the modern Western woman the idea that she is not getting what she should, by being a woman, and therefore the world looks doubly attractive because she is just passing through and will never come back and doesn't want to miss anything. So, living a man's life is very, very attractive. She doesn't want to stay home all the time and not see anything, not meet anybody, go through the boredom of raising a family, taking care of the children. She wants to be out with life, functioning in a man's world because she is told that she is missing something. Therefore, you can understand her desire to get out and work, start seeing and experiencing life and mixing with people, meeting new people. The Hindu woman does not look at life like that. The Hindu woman knows that she was born in a woman's body--this soul has taken an incarnation for a time in a woman's body--to perform a dharma, to perform a duty for the evolution of the soul. The duty is to be a mother to her children, wife to her husband, to strengthen the home and the family, which are the linchpin of society. She knows that the rewards are greater for her in the home. She knows that all she is missing is a man's strenuous work and responsibility, that her stri dharma is equally as great as a man's purusha dharma, even though they are quite different by nature. Because she knows these things, she fulfills her dharma joyously.
Now, a woman may wonder, "If I don't work, how are we going to pay the bills?" The real reason that most women work is economic. The economy of the world is becoming more and more difficult, and the first answer to money problems, especially in the West, where the family unit is not too strong these days, is to have the woman go to work. This is an unhappy solution. The sacrifices are greater than the rewards. It is a false economy. Many times I have told young wives to stay home with their children. They worry. Their husbands worry. But with the wife at home, working to strengthen her husband, he soon becomes confident, creative, energetic. He is reinspired and always finds a way to make things work.
As long as the mother is home, everything is fine. There is security. Without this security, a family begins to disintegrate. Just think how insecure a child is without its mother. When the mother is there, security reigns in the home. As long as the mother is home doing whatever she naturally does as a mother--she doesn't even have to read a book about how to do it--the husband has to support the home. He feels bound to support the home.
Of course, religion must be the basis of the home to make it all work. When women leave the home to work in the world, they sacrifice the depth of their religion; their religious life then simply becomes a social affair. This is true of both Eastern and Western religions. As long as the mother is home, the celestial devas are there, hovering in and around the home. How many of you were raised with your mother staying at home? Well, then you know what I mean. Now, what if she wasn't at home when you were a child? You came home and mother wasn't there. You had to fix your own snack in an empty house. You didn't feel much cared for. You were alone in an empty house, perhaps frightened, and you went around seeing if someone was hiding in the closet. You didn't feel that motherly, protective feeling. When mother finally does come home, she has other things on her mind. She is tired. She has worked hard, and now she has to work even more. She is not thinking about the little helpless kid who can't take care of himself or herself. She may get home and think to herself, "I just can't forget about that good-looking man I met at the office. I even see him in my dreams. I have a husband and I shouldn't be thinking about such things, but" And on and on and on. Arguments begin to happen for the first time in the home. What do you do? You worry for awhile. You cry a little. As soon as you can, you start fending for yourself. You work out ways to take care of yourself or even to get away from the unhappy situation as soon as you can. You end up out on your own in the world at a young age, before you are mature enough to cope with it.
The Hindu woman knows that she is born in a woman's body to perform a woman's dharma, to perform her duty and not to emulate the men. The duty is to be a mother to her children and a wife to her husband, whom she looks to as her lord. She performs that duty willingly as does the man perform his duty which arises out of being born in a man's body. The Hindu woman is trained to perform her stri dharma from the time she is a little girl. She finds ways to express her natural creativity within the home itself. She may write poetry or become an artist. Perhaps she has a special talent for sewing or embroidery or gardening or music. She can learn to loom cloth and make the family's clothing. If needed, she can use her skills to supplement the family income without leaving the home. There are so many ways for a Hindu wife and mother to fully use her creative energies, including being creative enough to never let her life become boring. It is her special blessing that she is free to pursue her religion fully, to study the scriptures, to sing bhajana and keep her own spiritual life strong inside.
Then there is the situation in which the wife is working for her husband in the home. This is not ideal, but it is far better than having her out, away from her husband, under another man's mind. At least the family is working together toward a single goal, and the mother is there to care for the child and answer questions. Of course, if working in the home does not allow for closeness of mother and children, then it is to be avoided--if, for instance, the work is so demanding that the mother is never free to play with the young ones or is so pressured by her other duties that she becomes tense and upset. Otherwise, it is a positive situation. From the child's point of view, mother is home. She is there to answer questions, to make a dosai or say "Go make yourself a nice dosai."
The University of Hard Knocks
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The University of Hard Knocks
The School That Completes Our Education
"Sweet are the uses of adversity;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
MORE than a million people have sat in audiences in all parts of
the United States and have listened to "The University of Hard
institutes, club gatherings, conventions and before various other
kinds of audiences. Ralph Parlette is kept busy year after year
"Can I get the lecture in book form?" That continuous question from
audiences brought out this book in response. Here is the overflow
of many deliveries.
"What is written here is not the way I would write it, were I
writing a book," says Ralph Parlette. "It is the way I say it. The
audience makes a lecture, if the lecture survives. I wish I could
shake the hand of every person who has sat in my audiences. And I
wish I could tell the lecture committees of America how I
appreciate the vast amount of altruistic work they have done in
bringing the audiences of America together. For lecture audiences
are not drawn together, they are pushed together."
The warm reception given "The University of Hard Knocks" by the
public, has encouraged the publishers to put more of Mr. Parlette's
are now in preparation as this, the third edition of "The
University of Hard Knocks" comes from the press.
SOME PRELIMINARY REMARKS--The lecturer the delivery wagon--The
The University of Hard Knocks
I. THE BOOKS ARE BUMPS--Every bump a lesson--Why the two kinds of
bumps--Description of University--"Sweet are the uses of
II. THE COLLEGE OF NEEDLESS KNOCKS, the bumps that we bump
into--Getting the coffee-pot--Teaching a wilful child--Bumps make
requires effort--Prodigals must be bumped--The fly and the sticky
III. THE COLLEGE OF NEEDFUL KNOCKS, the bumps that bump into
us--Our sorrows and disappointments--How the piano was made--How
the "red mud" becomes razor-blades--The world our mirror--The
cripple taught by the bumps--Every bump brings a blessing--You are
IV. "SHAKE THE BARREL"--How we decide our destinies--Why the big
ones shake up and the little ones shake down--The barrel of life
and bad luck--The girl who went up--The man who went down--The
equalize--Help people to help themselves--We cannot get things till
we get ready for them
There is no top--We make ourselves great by service--the
people--A glimpse of Gunsaulus
VI. THE PROBLEM OF "PREPAREDNESS"--Preparing children for
children--The story of "Gussie" and "Bill Whackem"--Schools and
Menace of America not swollen fortunes but shrunken souls--
Helping the turkeys killed them--the happiness of work we love--
Amusement drunkards--Lure of the city--Strong men from the
Must save the home towns--A school of struggle--New School
VII. THE SALVATION OF A "SUCKER"--You can't get something for
nothing--The fiddle and the tuning--How we know things--Trimmed at
the shell game--My "fool drawer"--Getting "selected to receive
orations--My maiden sermon--The books that live have been
experience--Theory and practice--Tuning the strings of life
VIII. LOOKING BACKWARD--Memories of the price we pay--My first
school teaching--Loaning the deacon my money--Calling the roll of
my schoolmates--At the grave of the boy I had envied--Why Ben Hur
won the chariot race--Pulling on the oar
IX. GO ON SOUTH!--The book in the running brook--The Mississippi
but stop--Few go on south--The plague of incompetents--Today our
eighty--Too busy to bury--Sympathy for the "sob squad"--Child sees
worst days, not best--Waiting for the second table--Better days on
principle, not praise--Doing duty for the joy of it--Becoming the
"Father of Waters"--Go on south forever!
X. GOING UP LIFE'S MOUNTAIN--The defeats that are victories--
Climbing Mount Lowe--Getting above the clouds into the sunshine--
Each day we rise to larger vision--Getting above the night into
the eternal day--Going south is going upward
only the delivery wagon. When the delivery wagon comes to your
the goods it brings you. You know some very good goods are
So in this lecture, please do not pay any attention to the delivery
not pay much attention to the wrappings and strings. Get inside to
the goods.
Really, I believe the goods are good. I believe I am to recite to
you some of the multiplication table of life--not mine, not yours
Can Only Pull the Plug!
lecture go differently before every audience. The kind of an
audience is just as important as the kind of a lecture. A cold
When I was a boy we had a barrel of sorghum in the woodshed. When
mother wanted to make ginger-bread or cookies, she would send me to
the woodshed to get a bucket of sorghum from that barrel.
Some warm September day I would pull the plug from the barrel and
the sorghum would fairly squirt into my bucket. Later in the fall
when it was colder, I would pull the plug but the sorghum would not
cold winter day I would pull the plug, but the sorghum would not
I discovered it was the temperature.
I have brought a barrel of sorghum to this audience. The name of
the sorghum is "The University of Hard Knocks." I can only pull the
plug. I cannot make it run. That will depend upon the temperature
of this audience. You can have all you want of it, but to get it to
No matter how the sorghum runs, you have to have a bucket to get
it. How much any one gets out of a lecture depends also upon the
size of the bucket he brings to get it in. A big bucket can get
filled at a very small stream. A little bucket gets little at the
That often explains why one person says a lecture is great, while
the next person says he got nothing out of it.
Here is a great mass of words and sentences and pictures to express
two or three simple little ideas of life, that our education is our
growing up from the Finite to the Infinite, and that it is done by
success rule can alone solve the problem. You must average it all
We are told that the stomach needs bulk as well as nutriment. It
would not prosper with the necessary elements in their condensed
form. So abstract truths in their lowest terms do not always
promote mental digestion like more bulk in the way of pictures and
discussions of these truths. Here is bulk as well as nutriment.
If you get the feeling that the first personal pronoun is being
lecture. You cannot confess without referring to the confesser.
I believe in the Angel of Good inside every block of human marble.
I believe it must be carved out in The University of Hard Knocks.
hypocrisy and human frailty are the Outside that must be chipped
I believe the Hard Knocks cannot injure the Angel, but can only
see more of the Angel in you.
The University of Hard Knocks
The Books Are Bumps
THE greatest school is the University of Hard Knocks. Its books are
Every bump is a lesson. If we learn the lesson with one bump, we do
it. They do not waste the bumps. We get promoted to the next bump.
But if we are "naturally bright," or there is something else the
matter with us, so that we do not learn the lesson of the bump we
have just gotten, then that bump must come back and bump us again.
Some of us learn to go forward with a few bumps, but most of us are
The tuition in the University of Hard Knocks is not free.
Experience is the dearest teacher in the world. Most of us spend
our lives in the A-B-C's of getting started.
We matriculate in the cradle.
We never graduate. When we stop learning we are due for another
There are two kinds of people--wise people and fools. The fools are
the people who think they have graduated.
The playground is all of God's universe.
The university colors are black and blue.
The yell is "ouch" repeated ad lib.
The Need of the Bumps
When I was thirteen I knew a great deal more than I do now. There
"Sweet are the uses of adversity;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
no running brooks. They'd get wet. And that sermons in stones! They
get preachers to preach sermons, and they build houses out of
But I am happy today that I have traveled a little farther. I am
happy that I have begun to learn the lessons from the bumps. I am
happy that I am learning the sweet tho painful lessons of the
University of Adversity. I am happy that I am beginning to listen.
preaching and every running brook the unfolding of a book.
I was not interested when father and mother told me these things.
I knew they meant all right, but the world had moved since they were
It is so hard to tell young people anything. They know better. So
they have to get bumped just where we got bumped, to learn that two
But if you will remember some of these things, they will feel like
poultices by and by when the bumps come.
The Two Colleges
two kinds of bumps--bumps that we need and bumps that we do not
We discover, in other words, that The University of Hard Knocks has
two colleges--The College of Needless Knocks and The College of
The College of Needless Knocks
The Bumps That We Bump Into
NEARLY all the bumps we get are Needless Knocks.
There comes a vivid memory of one of my early Needless Knocks as I
say that. It was back at the time when I was trying to run our home
to suit myself. I sat in the highest chair in the family circle. I
That day they had the little joy and sunshine of the family in his
high-chair throne right up beside the dinner table. The coffee-pot
I became enamored with that coffee-pot. I decided I needed that
coffee-pot in my business. I reached over to get the coffee-pot.
Then I discovered a woman beside me, my mother. She was the most
And that day when I wanted the coffee-pot--I did want it. Nobody
how I desired that coffee-pot. "One thing thou lackest," a
coffee-pot--
The longer I thought about it the more angry I became. What right
has that woman to meddle into my affairs all the time? I have stood
I stopped it. I got the coffee-pot. I know I got the coffee-pot. I
got it. I got about a gallon of the reddest, hottest coffee a bad
There were weeks after that when I was upholstered. They put
applebutter on me--and coal oil and white-of-an-egg and starch and
anything else the neighbors could think of. They would bring it
over and rub it on the little joy and sunshine of the family, who
You see, my mother's way was to tell me and then let me do as I
pleased. She told me not to get the coffee-pot and then let me get
it, knowing that it would burn me. She would say, "Don't." Then she
Why don't mothers knit today?
Mother would say, "Don't fall in the well." I could go and jump in
the well after that and she would not look at me. I do not argue
that this is the way to raise children, but I insist that this was
the most kind and effective way to rear one stubborn boy I know of.
The neighbors and the ladies' aid society often said my mother was
cruel with that angel child. But the neighbors did not know what
kind of an insect mother was trying to raise. Mother did know. She
knew how stubborn and self-willed I was. It came from father's
"side of the house."
Mother knew that to argue with me was to flatter me. Tell me, serve
notice upon me, and then let me go ahead and get my coffee-pot.
That was the quickest and kindest way to teach me.
I learned very quickly that if I did not hear mother, and heed, a
coffee-pot would spill upon me. I cannot remember when I disobeyed
my mother that a coffee-pot of some kind did not spill upon me, and I
got my blisters. Mother did not inflict them. Mother was not much of an
inflicter. Father attended to that in the laboratory behind the
And thru the bumps we learn that The College of Needless Knocks
runs on the same plan. The Voice of Wisdom says to each of us,
"Child of humanity, do right, walk in the right path. You will be
wiser and happier." The tongues in the trees, the books in the
running brooks and the sermons in the stones all repeat it.
But we are not compelled to walk in the right path. We are free
We get off the right path. We go down forbidden paths. They seem
And going down the wrong path, we get bumped harder and harder
We are lucky if we learn the lesson with one bump. We are unlucky
when we get bumped twice in the same place, for it means we are
It wasn't my fault--all my bumps and coffee-pots! I was just
to learn the lesson of the bump and find the right path, so that
The seeress is the soothing syrup for mental infants.
The other day I watched a blind man go down the aisle of the car to
get off the train. Did you ever study the walk of a blind man? He
seat. Then he did what every blind man does, he lifted his hand
his lesson with one bump, and you have to go bumping into the same
Let me repeat, things that go downward will run themselves. Things
movements--things that go upward--never run themselves. They must
be pushed all the time.
If you are making no effort in your life, if you are moving in the
line of least resistance, depend upon it you are going downward.
Look out for the bumps!
Look over your community. Note the handful of brave, faithful,
unselfish souls who are carrying the community burdens and pushing
upward. Note the multitude making little or no effort, and even
getting in the way of the pushers.
Majorities do not rule. Majorities never have ruled. It is the
brave minority of thinking, self-sacrificing people that decides
the tomorrow of communities that go upward. Majorities are not
willing to make the effort to rule themselves. They are content to
for nothing. They must be led--sometimes driven--by minorities.
People are like sheep. The shepherd can lead them to heaven--or to
Bumping the Prodigals
Human life is the story of the Prodigal Son. We look over the fence
of goodness into the mystery of the great unknown world beyond and
Down the great white way of the world go the million prodigals,
seeking happiness where nobody ever found happiness. Their days
fill up with disappointment, their vision becomes dulled. They
become anaemic feeding upon the husks.
They just must get their coffee-pot!
How they must be bumped to think upon their ways. Every time we do
bumped on the outside, but we always get bumped on the inside. A
bump on the conscience is worse than a bump on the "noodle."
"I can do wrong and not get bumped. I have no feelings upon the
the subject. You have pounded your soul into a jelly. You don't
How the old devil works day and night to keep people amused and
so that they will not think upon their ways! How he keeps the music
and the dazzle going so they will not see they are bumping
themselves!
Consider the Sticky Flypaper
Did you ever watch a fly get his Needless Knocks on the sticky
The last thing Mamma Fly said as Johnny went off to the city was,
"Remember, son, to stay away from the sticky flypaper. That is
where your poor dear father was lost." And Johnny Fly remembers for
several minutes. But when he sees all the smart young flies of his
set go over to the flypaper, he goes over, too. He gazes down at
his face in the stickiness. "Ah! how pretty I am! This sticky
stuck a bit. Mother is such a silly old worryer. She means all
right, of course, but she isn't up-to-date. We young set of modern
can't catch us. They were too strict with me back home."
You see Johnny fly back and forth and have the time of his
lands in the stickiness. "Well, well, how nice this is on the feet,
so soft and soothing!"
First he puts one foot down and pulls it out. That is a lot of fun.
feet down in the stickiness. It is harder to pull them out. Then he
puts three down and puts down a few more trying to pull them out.
doesn't pull loose. He feels tired and he sits down in the sticky
flypaper. It is a fine place to stick around. All his young set of
flies are around him. He does like the company. They all feel the
same way--they can play in the sticky flypaper or let it alone,
just as they please, for they are strong-minded flies. They have
another drink and sing, "We won't go home till morning."
Most of them stay. They just settle down into the stickiness
The tuition in The College of Needless Knocks is very high indeed!
The man who goes to jail ought to congratulate himself if he is
guilty. It is the man who does not get discovered who is to be
The world loves to write resolutions of respect. How often we
when we might reasonably ask whether the victim was "removed" or
There is a good deal of suicide charged up to Providence.
The College of Needful Knocks
The Bumps That Bump Into Us
BUT occasionally all of us get bumps that we do not bump into. They
bump into us. They are the guideboard knocks that point us to the
You were bumped yesterday or years ago. Maybe the wound has not yet
were bumped. Some of you in this audience are just now wondering
You were doing right--doing just the best you knew how--and yet
We all must learn, if we have not already learned, that these blows
are lessons in The College of Needful Knocks. They point upward to
In other words, we are raw material. You know what raw material
The clothing we wear, the food we eat, the house we live in, all
have to have the Needful Knocks to become useful. And so does
humanity need the same preparation for greater usefulness.
I should like to know every person in this audience. But the ones
I should most appreciate knowing are the ones who have known the
most of these knocks--who have faced the great crises of life and
have been tried in the crucibles of affliction. For I am learning
that these lives are the gold tried in the fire.
The Sorrows of the Piano
See the piano on this stage? Good evening, Mr. Piano. I am glad to
see you. You are so shiny, beautiful, valuable and full of music,
here. This is no reflection upon the janitor. You became a piano by
the Needful Knocks.
Did you get the meaning of that, children? I hope you are green.
There you stood in the forest, a perfectly good, green young tree.
were the best young tree you could be.
That is why you were bumped--because you were good! There came a
man into the woods with an ax, and he looked for the best trees
there to bump. He bumped you--hit you with the ax! How it hurt you!
And how unjust it was! He kept on hitting you. "The operation was
It is a very sad story. They took you all bumped and bleeding to
the sawmill and they bumped and ripped you more. They cut you in
They did not bump the little, crooked, dissipated, cigaret-stunted
trees. They were not worth bumping.
bumped here. All the beauty, harmony and value were bumped into you.
The Sufferings of the Red Mud
One day I was up the Missabe road about a hundred miles north of
Duluth, Minnesota, and came to a hole in the ground. It was a big
hole--about a half-mile of hole. There were steam-shovels at work
throwing out of that hole what I thought was red mud.
"Kind sir, why are they throwing that red mud out of that hole?" I
"That hain't red mud. That's iron ore, an' it's the best iron ore
in the world."
"It hain't worth nothin' here; that's why they're movin' it away."
There's red mud around every community that "hain't worth nothin'"
of this same red mud. It had been moved over the Great Lakes and
the rails to what they call a blast furnace, the technological name
of which being The College of Needful Knocks for Red Mud.
limestone, charcoal and other textbooks. Then they corked it up and
school began. They roasted it. It is a great thing to be roasted.
When it was done roasting they stopped. Have you noticed that they
Then they pulled the plug out of the bottom of the college and held
promotion exercises. The red mud squirted out into the sand. It was
Some of the pig iron went into another department, a big teakettle,
Some of the sophomore steel went up into another grade where it was
roasted yet again and rolled thin into a junior. Some of that went
It seemed as tho I could hear the suffering red mud crying out, "O,
why did they take me away from my happy hole-in-the-ground? Why do
they pound me and break my heart? I have been good and faithful. O,
why do they roast me? O, I'll never get over this!"
But after they had given it a diploma--a pricemark telling how much
it had been roasted--they took it proudly all over the world,
labeled "Made in America." They hung it in show windows, they put
fine work!" They paid much money for it now. They paid the most
money for what had been roasted the most.
If a ton of that red mud had become watch-springs or razor-blades,
the price had gone up into thousands of dollars.
My friends, you and I are the raw material, the green trees, the
red mud. The Needful Knocks are necessary to make us serviceable.
a larger life. The diamond and the chunk of soft coal are exactly the
same material, say the chemists. But the diamond has gone to The College
of Needful Knocks more than has her crude sister of the coal-scuttle.
There is no human diamond that has not been crystallized in the
crucibles of affliction. There is no gold that has not been refined
in the fire.
Illinois, a crippled woman was wheeled into the tent and brought
right down to the foot of the platform. The subject was The
University of Hard Knocks. Presently the cripple's face was shining
brighter than the footlights.
She knew about the knocks!
coming here. I have the feeling that I spoke the words, but you are
the lecture itself."
What a smile she gave me! "Yes, I know about the hard knocks," she
said. "I have been in pain most of my life. But I have learned all
They told me this crippled woman was the sweetest-spirited,
best-loved person in the town.
But her mother petulantly interrupted me. She had wheeled the
cripple into the tent. She was tall and stately. She was
well-gowned. She lived in one of the finest homes in the city. She
buy the frown from her face.
What would you have said? Just on the spur of the moment--I said,
"Madam, I don't want to be unkind, but I really think the reason
right, I need another bump.
The cripple girl had traveled ahead of her jealous mother. For
Schools of Sympathy
When I see a long row of cots in a hospital or sanitarium, I want
to congratulate the patients lying there. They are learning the
precious lessons of patience, sympathy, love, faith and courage.
They are getting the education in the humanities the world needs
more than tables of logarithms. Only those who have suffered can
sympathize. They are to become a precious part of our population.
The world needs them more than libraries and foundations.
The Silver Lining
There is no backward step in life. Whatever experiences come to us
are truly new chapters of our education if we are willing to learn
them.
We think this is true of the good things that come to us, but we do
not want to think so of the bad things. Yet we grow more in lean
prosperity do not often travel hand-in-hand. When we become
materially very prosperous, so many of us begin to say, "Is not
this Babylon that I have builded?" And about that time there comes
some handwriting on the wall and a bump to save us.
Think of what might happen to you today. Your home might burn. We
now. A conflagration might sweep your town from the map. Your
name might be tarnished. Bereavement might take from you the one
You would never know how many real friends you have until then. But
look out! Some of your friends would say, "I am so sorry for you.
for it is not true. The old enemy of humanity wants you to believe
The truth is, another chapter of your real education has been
opened. Will you read the lesson of the Needful Knocks?
other public disaster brings sympathy, bravery, brotherhood and
There is a silver lining to every hard knocks cloud.
Out of the trenches of the Great War come nations chastened by
sacrifice and purged of their dross.
"Shake The Barrel"
NOW as we learn the lessons of the Needless and the Needful Knocks,
a picture of it.
One day the train stopped at a station to take water. Beside the
track was a grocery with a row of barrels of apples in front. There
was one barrel full of big, red, fat apples. I rushed over and got
a sack of the big, red, fat apples. Later as the train was under
way, I looked in the sack and discovered there was not a big, red,
fat apple there.
All I could figure out was that there was only one layer of the
big, red, fat apples on the top, and the groceryman, not desiring
to spoil his sign, had reached down under the top layer. He must
have reached to the bottom, for he gave me the worst mess of runts
and windfalls I ever saw in one sack. The things I said about the
grocery business must have kept the recording angel busy.
Then I calmed down. Did the groceryman do that on purpose? Does
the groceryman ever put the big apples on top and the little
Do you? Is there a groceryman in the audience?
Man of sorrows, you have been slandered. It never occurred to me
until that day on the train that the groceryman does not put the
big ones on top and the little ones down underneath. He does not
need to do it. It does itself. It is the shaking of the barrel that
pushes the big ones up and the little ones down.
Shake to Their Places
and smooth that things do not shake on the road to town. But back
in the Black Swamp of Ohio we had corduroy roads. Did you ever see
a corduroy road? It was a layer of logs in the mud. Riding over it
was the poetry of motion! The wagon "hit the high spots." And as I
hauled a wagon-bed full of apples to the cider-mill over a corduroy
road, the apples sorted out by the jolting. The big apples would
try to get to the top. The little, runty apples would try to hold
a mass meeting at the bottom.
how long you have to see most things before you see them? I saw
that when I played marbles. The big marbles would shake to the top
of my pocket and the little ones would rattle down to the bottom.
that the big ones shake up and the little ones shake down. Put some
big ones and some little things of about the same density in a box
or other container and shake them. You will see the larger things
shake upward and the smaller shake downward. You will see every
thing shake to the place its size determines. A little larger one
When things find their place, you can shake on till doomsday, but
you cannot change the place of one of the objects.
Mix them up again and shake. Watch them all shake back as they were
before, the largest on top and the smallest at the bottom.
At this place the lecturer exhibits a glass jar more than
Let us try that right on the platform. Here is a glass jar and
inside of it you see two sizes of objects--a lot of little white
forbearance. I am discovering that we can hear faster thru the eye
than thru the ear. I want to make this so vivid that you will never
forget it, and I do not want these young people to live thirty
years before they see it.
If there are sermons in stones, there must be lectures in cans.
This is a canned lecture. Let the can talk to you awhile.
You note as I shake the jar the little beans quickly settle down
and the big walnuts shake up. Not one bean asks, "Which way do I
automatically goes the right way. The little ones go down and the
Note that I mix them all up and then shake. Note that they arrange
themselves just as they were before.
down in the bottom saying, "Help me! Help me! I am so unfortunate
and low down. I never had no chance like them big ones up there.
the top. See! I have boosted him. I have uplifted him.
See, the can shakes. Back to the bottom shakes the little bean. And
The can shakes. The little bean again shakes back to the bottom. He
Then I hear Little Bean say, "Well, if I cannot get to the top, you
make them big ones come down. Give every one an equal chance."
down. You Big Nuts get right down there on a level with Little
Bean!" And you see I put them down.
But I shake the can, and the big ones go right back to the top with
the same shakes that send the little ones back to the bottom.
There is only one way for those objects to change their place in
the can. Lifting them up or putting them down will not do it. But
change their size!
Equality of position demands quality of size. Let the little one
grow bigger and he will shake up. Let the big one grow smaller and
The Shaking Barrel of Life
O, fellow apples! We are all apples in the barrel of life on the
way to the market place of the future. It is a corduroy road and
the barrel shakes all the time.
In the barrel are big apples, little apples, freckled apples,
speckled apples, green apples, and dried apples. A bad boy on the
front row shouted the other night, "And rotten apples!"
In other words, all the people of the world are in the great barrel
of life. That barrel is shaking all the time. Every community is
shaking, every place is shaking. The offices, the shops, the
stores, the schools, the pulpits, the homes--every place where we
live or work is shaking. Life is a constant survival of the
The same law that shakes the little ones down and the big ones up
in that can is shaking every person to the place he fits in the
barrel of life. It is sending small people down and great people
the eternal law of life.
We shake right back to the places our size determines. We must get
ready for places before we can get them and keep them.
The very worst thing that can happen to anybody is to be
is something like a train and if we do not get to the depot in time
our train of destiny will run off and leave us, and we will have no
destiny. There is destiny--that jar.
Kings and Queens of Destiny
The objects in that jar cannot change their size. But thank God,
you and I are not helpless victims of blind fate. We are not
creatures of chance. We have it in our hands to decide our destiny
And when we have reached the place our size determines, we stay
there so long as we stay that size.
Each person is doing one of three things consciously or
In order to hold his place he must hold his size. He must fill the
In order to stay the same size he must grow enough each day to supply
the loss by evaporation. Evaporation is going steadily on in lives
the places you fit. And when you are in your places--in stores,
shops, offices or elsewhere, if you want to hold your place you
If you want a greater place, you simply grow greater and they
of people working for me, I would have a jar in my office filled
with various sizes of objects. When an employee would come into the
office and say, "Isn't it about time I was getting a raise?" I
would say, "Go shake the jar, Charlie. That is the way you get
This jar tells me so much about luck. I have noted that the lucky
people shake up and the unlucky people shake down. That is, the
lucky people grow great and the unlucky people shrivel and rattle.
Notice as I bump this jar. Two things happened. The little ones
shook down and the big ones shook up. The bump that was bad luck to
the little ones was good luck to the big ones. The same bump was
Luck does not depend upon the direction of the bump, but upon the
size of the bump-ee!
The "Lucky" One
So everywhere you look you see the barrel sorting people according
to size. Every business concern can tell you stories like that of
the Chicago house where a number of young ladies worked. Some of
them had been there for a long time. There came a raw, green Dutch
girl from the country. It was her first office experience, and she
got the bottom job.
The other girls poked fun at her and played jokes upon her because
"Is not she the limit?" they oft spake one to another. She was. She
made many blunders. But it is now recalled that she never made the
same blunder twice. She learned the lesson with one helping to the
And she never "got done." When she had finished her work, the work
to be done, and she would go right on working, contrary to the
rules of the union! Without being told, mind you. She had that rare
faculty the world is bidding for--initiative.
The other girls "got done." When they had finished the work they
had been put at, they would wait--O, so patiently they would
Within three months every other girl in that office was asking
questions of the little Dutch girl. She had learned more about
business in three months than the others had learned in all the
time they had been there. Nothing ever escaped her. She had become
the most capable girl in the office.
The barrel did the rest. Today she is giving orders to all of them,
for she is the office superintendent.
The other girls feel hurt about it. They will tell you in
confidence that it was the rankest favoritism ever known. "There
The "Unlucky" One
The other day in a paper-mill I was standing beside a long machine
making shiny super-calendered paper. I asked the man working there
some questions about the machine, which he answered fairly well.
Then I asked him about a machine in the next room. He said, "I
don't know nothing about it, boss, I don't work in there."
I asked him about another process, and he replied, "I don't know
nothing about it, I never worked in there." I asked him about the
neither. I don't work in there." And he did not betray the least
Going out of the building, I asked the foreman, "Do you see that
man over there at the supercalendered machine?" pointing to the man
The foreman's face clouded. "I hate to talk to you about that man.
He is one of the kindest-hearted men we ever had in the works, but
we've got to let him go. We're afraid he'll break the machine. He
Life's Barrel the Leveler
So books could be filled with just such stories of how people have
gone up and down. You may have noticed two brothers start with the
same chance, and presently notice that one is going up and the
other is going down.
Some of us begin life on the top branches, right in the sunshine of
popular favor, and get our names in the blue-book at the start.
Some of us begin down in the shade on the bottom branches, and we
do not even get invited. We often become discouraged as we look at
the top-branchers, and we say, "O, if I only had his chance! If I
were only up there I might amount to something. But I am too low
And afterwhile we are all in the barrel of life, shaken and bumped
about. There the real people do not often ask us, "On what branch
of that tree did you grow?" But they often inquire, "Are you big
The Fatal Rattle!
doing pretty much the same things over and over. Every day we
appear to have about the same round of duties.
But if we let life become routine, we are shaking down. The very
routine of life must every day flash a new attractiveness. We must
routine or we become unhappy. If we go on doing just the same
things in the same way day after day, thinking the same thoughts,
smaller. The joy and juice go out of our lives. We shrivel and rattle.
The success, joy and glory of life are in learning, growing, going
forward and upward. That is the only way to hold our place.
The farmer must be learning new things about farming to hold his
place this progressive age as a farmer. The merchant must be
competitors. The minister must be getting larger visions of the
ministry as he goes back into the same old pulpit to keep on
filling it. The teacher must be seeing new possibilities in the
same old schoolroom. The mother must be getting a larger horizon in
We only live as we grow and learn. When anybody stays in the same
Unless the place is a grave!
I shiver as I see the pages of school advertisements in the
Child." I know the schools generally mean all right, but I fear the
students will get the idea they are being finished, which finishes
them. We never finish while we live. A school finishing is a
I am sorry for the one who says, "I know all there is to know about
The greater and wiser the man, the more anxious he is to be told.
I am sorry for the one who struts around saying, "I own the job.
They can't get along without me." For I feel that they are getting
ready to get along without him. That noise you hear is the
Big business men keep their ears open for rattles in their
I am sorry for the man, community or institution that spends much
For it is mostly rattle. The live one's "my day" is today and
tomorrow. The dead one's is yesterday.
give much for a young person (or any other person) who does not
We often think the way to get a great place is just to go after it
But unless we have grown as great as the place we would be a great
joke, for we would rattle. And when we have grown as great as the
a boy becomes a man by getting into his father's boots. He is in
gets greater boots. But he must get the feet before he gets the
We must get ready for things before we get them.
Moses was eighty years getting ready to do forty years work. The
many of us expect to get ready in "four easy lessons by mail."
We can be a pumpkin in one summer, with the accent on the "punk."
We can be a mushroom in a day, with the accent on the "mush." But
The world is not greatly impressed by testimonials. The man who has
the most testimonials generally needs them most to keep him from
rattling. A testimonial so often becomes a crutch.
Many a man writes a testimonial to get rid of somebody. "Well, I
hope it will do him some good. Anyhow, I have gotten him off my
It is dangerous to overboost people, for the higher you boost them
the farther they will fall.
The Menace of the Press-Notice
Now testimonials and press-notices very often serve useful ends. In
lyceum work, in teaching, in very many lines, they are often useful
to introduce a stranger. A letter of introduction is useful. A
kinds of testimonials.
The danger is that the hero of them may get to leaning upon them.
Then they become a mirror for his vanity instead of a monitor
Most testimonials and press-notices are frank flatteries. They
magnify the good points and say little as possible about the bad
progress by reading my press-notices instead of listening to the
verdict of my audiences. I avoided frank criticism. It would hurt
few press-notices. "There, I am all right, for this clipping says
I am the greatest ever, and should he return, no hall would be able
to contain the crowd."
Alas! How often I have learned that when I did return the hall that
was filled before was entirely too big for the audience! The
editors of America--God bless them! They are always trying to boost
a home enterprise--not for the sake of the imported attraction but
for the sake of the home folks who import it.
When you get to the place where you can stand aside and "see
yourself go by"--when you can keep still and see every fibre of you
rejoice, for the kingdom of success is yours.
The Artificial Uplift
There are so many loving, sincere, foolish, cruel uplift movements
in the land. They spring up, fail, wail, disappear, only to be
succeeded by twice as many more. They fail because instead of
having the barrel do the uplifting, they try to do it with a
The victims of the artificial uplift cannot stay uplifted. They
rattle back, and "the last estate of that man is worse than the
You cannot uplift a beggar by giving him alms. You are using the
derrick. We must feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but that is
not helping them, that is propping them. The beggar who asks you to
wants you to license him and professionalize him as a beggar.
cannot help many people, for there are not many people willing to
be helped on the inside. Not many willing to grow up.
When Peter and John went up to the temple they found the lame
beggar sitting at the gate Beautiful. Every day the beggar had been
"helped." Every day as they laid him at the gate people would pass
thru the gate and see him. He would say, "Help me!" "Poor man,"
they would reply, "you are in a bad fix. Here is help," and they
And so every day that beggar got to be more of a beggar. The public
hopeless cripple. No doubt he belonged after a few days of the
"helping" to the Jerusalem Beggars' Union and carried his card.
as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise
Fix the People, Not the Barrel
I used to work on the "section" and get a dollar and fifteen cents
a day. I rattled there. I did not earn my dollar fifteen. I tried
to see how little I could do and look like I was working. I was the
Artful Dodger of Section Sixteen. When the whistle would blow--O,
joyful sound!--I would leave my pick hang right up in the air. I
I used to wonder as I passed Bill Barlow's bank on the way down to
the section-house, why I was not president of that bank. I wondered
why I was not sitting upon one of those mahogany seats instead of
pumping a handcar. I was naturally bright. I used to say "If the
rich wasn't getting richer and the poor poorer, I'd be president of a
Did you ever hear that line of conversation? It generally comes
I am so glad now that I did not get to be president of the bank.
They are glad, too! I would have rattled down in about fifteen
minutes, down to the peanut row, for I was only a peanut. Remember,
the hand-car job is just as honorable as the bank job, but as I was
The fairy books love to tell about some clodhopper suddenly
the clodhopper is enchanted into readiness for kingship before he
lands upon the throne.
The only way to rule others is to learn to rule ourself.
I used to say, "Just wait till I get to Congress." I think they are
to be the same size. Yes, I'll pass laws to turn the barrel upside
down, so the little ones will be on the top and the big ones will
be at the bottom."
But I had not seen that it wouldn't matter which end was the top,
the big ones would shake right up to it and the little ones would
shake down to the bottom.
The little man has the chance now, just as fast as he grows. You
cannot fix the barrel. You can only fix the people inside the
Have you ever noticed that the man who is not willing to fix
himself, is the one who wants to get the most laws passed to fix
other people? He wants something for nothing.
O, I am so glad I did not get the things I wanted at the time I
wanted them! They would have been coffee-pots. Thank goodness, we
do not get the coffee-pot until we are ready to handle it.
wanted them yesterday. O, how we wanted them! But a cruel fate
would not let us have them. Today we have them. They come to us as
them, and the barrel has shaken us up to them.
Today you and I want things beyond our reach. O, how we want them!
But a cruel fate will not let us have them.
And this blessed old barrel of life is just waiting and anxious to
many are trying to grow great on the outside without growing great
on the inside. They rattle on the inside!
They fool themselves, but nobody else.
There is only one greatness--inside greatness. All outside
greatness is merely an incidental reflection of the inside.
in inches, dollars, acres, votes, hurrahs, or by any other of the
not leave our kitchen or blacksmith shop. We take the kitchen or
Come, let us grow greater. There is a throne for each of us.
"Getting to the Top"
"Getting to the top" is the world's pet delusion. There is no top.
The higher we rise, the better we see that life on this planet is
the going up from the Finite to the Infinite.
The world says that to get greatness means to get great things. So
the world is in the business of getting--getting great fortunes,
folderol. Afterwhile the poor old world hears the empty rattle of
the inside, and wails, "All is vanity. I find no pleasure in them.
being things on the inside, not in getting things on the outside.
I weary of the world's pink-sheet extras about "Getting to the Top"
and "Forging to the Front." Too often they are the sordid story of
a few scrambling over the heads of the weaker ones. Sometimes they
are the story of one pig crowding the other pigs out of the trough
and cornering all the swill!
The Secret of Greatness
There came to him those two disciples who wanted to "get to the
top." Those two sons of Zebedee wanted to have the greatest places
in the new kingdom they imagined he would establish on earth.
They got very busy pursuing greatness, but I do not read that they
were half so busy preparing for greatness. They even had their
mother out electioneering for them.
"O, Master," said the mother, "grant that these my two sons may sit,
the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom."
The Master looked with love and pity upon their unpreparedness.
"Are ye able to drink of the cup?" Then he gave the only definition
of greatness that can ever stand: "Whosoever will be great among
us. We must "achieve greatness" by developing it on the
The First Step at Hand
This is the Big Business of life--going up, getting educated,
getting greatness on the inside. Getting greatness on the outside
is little business. Much of it mighty little.
Everybody's privilege and duty is to become great. And the joy of
it is that the first step is always nearest at hand. We do not have
to go off to New York or Chicago or go chasing around the world to
are now upward for an infinite number of steps.
We must take the first step now. Most of us want to take the
hundredth step or the thousandth step now. We want to make some
spectacular stride of a thousand steps at one leap. That is why we
workshop or our office and take the first step, solve the problem
solve and dissolve the difficulties and turn our burdens into
blessings, we find love, the universal solvent, shining out of our
lives. We find our spiritual influences going upward. So the winds
of earth are born; they rush in from the cold lands to the warm
currents set upward, the world is drawn toward us with its
We find our kitchen or workshop or office becoming a new throne
of power. We find the world around us rising up to call us blessed.
As we grow greater our troubles grow smaller, for we see them thru
greater eyes. We rise above them.
begin to see them. They are around us all the time, but we must get
greater eyes to see them.
Generally speaking, the smaller our vision of our work, the more we
admire what we have accomplished and "point with pride." The
greater our vision, the more we see what is yet to be accomplished.
It was the sweet girl graduate who at commencement wondered how one
small head could contain it all. It was Newton after giving the
have been only a boy playing on the seashore * * * while the great
ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." That great ocean is
The Widow's Mites
The great Teacher pointed to the widow who cast her two mites into
the treasury, and then to the rich men who had cast in much more.
"This poor widow hath cast in more than they all. For all these
have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she
of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."
Tho the rich men had cast in more, yet it was only a part of their
possessions. The widow cast in less, but it was all she had. The
Master cared little what the footings of the money were in the
treasury. That is not why we give. We give to become great. The
fear of want.
saveth his life shall lose it, but he that loseth his life for the
advancement of the kingdom of happiness on earth shall find it
Our greatness therefore does not depend upon how much we give or
upon what we do, whether peeling potatoes or ruling a nation, but
upon the percentage of our output to our resources. Upon doing with
cannot get to do. Rejoice in doing the things you can get to do.
The world says some of us have golden gifts and some have copper
gifts. But when we cast them all into the treasury of right
service, there is an alchemy that transmutes every gift into gold.
Finding the Great People
I do not know who fitted the boards into the floor I stand upon. I
do not know all the great people who may come and stand upon this
floor. But I do know that the one who made the floor--and the one
who sweeps it--is just as great as anybody in the world who may
come and stand upon it, if each be doing his work with the same
We have to look farther than the "Who's Who" and Dun and Bradstreet
to make a roster of the great people of a community. You will find
the community heart in the precious handful who believe that the
service of God is the service of man.
The great people of the community serve and sacrifice for a better
tomorrow. They are the faithful few who get behind the churches,
the schools, the lyceum and chautauqua, and all the other movements
They are the ones who are "always trying to run things." They are
the happy ones, happy for the larger vision that comes as they go
higher by unselfish service. They are discovering that their
sweetest pay comes from doing many things they are not paid for.
They rarely get thanked, for the community does not often think of
thanking them until it comes time to draft the "resolutions of
I had to go to the mouth of a coal-mine in a little Illinois town,
to find the man the bureau had given as lyceum committeeman there.
I wondered what the grimy-faced man from the shaft, wearing the
miner's lamp in his cap, could possibly have to do with the lyceum
the tickets and had done all the managing. He was superintendent of
the Sunday school. He was the storm-center of every altruistic
effort in the town--the greatest man there, because the most
The great people are so busy serving that they have little time to
strut and pose in the show places. Few of them are "prominent
clubmen." You rarely find their names in the society page. They
rarely give "brilliant social functions." Their idle families
A Glimpse of Gunsaulus
I found a great man lecturing at the chautauquas. He preaches in
he founded by his own preaching. He is the mainspring of so many
uplift movements that his name gets into the papers about every day,
think that a vacation means going off somewhere and stretching out
under trees or letting the mind become a blank. But this Chicago
preacher went from one chautauqua town to another, and took his
vacation going up and down the streets. He dug into the local
history of each place, and before dinner he knew more about the
place than most of the natives.
"There is a sermon for me," he would exclaim every half-hour. He
were doing nothing. In every town he would discover somebody of
the humdrum travel map into a wonderland. He scolded lazy towns and
praised enterprising ones. He stopped young fellows on the streets.
"What are you going to do in life?" Perhaps the young man would
chance," the man on his vacation would reply.
his vacation. He was busy about other people's business. He did not
once ask the price of land, nor where there was a good investment
His friends would sometimes worry about him. They would say, "Why
doesn't the doctor take care of himself, instead of taking care of
everybody else? He wears himself out for other people until he
Sometimes they were right about that.
did not make him great. His books did not make him great. These are
the by-products. His life of service for others makes him
This Chicago man gives his life into the service of humanity, and
it becomes the fuel to make the steam to accomplish the wonderful
things he does. Let him stop and "take care of himself," and his
If he had begun life by "taking care of himself" and "looking out
and writing it all down in the contract, most likely Dr. Frank W.
the backwoods of Morrow county, Ohio.
Gunsaulus often says, "You are planning and saving and telling
great things. Give it now! Give your dollar now, rather than your
thousands afterwhile. You need to give it now, and the world needs
The Problem of "Preparedness"
THE problem of "preparedness" is the problem of preparing children
for life. All other kinds of "preparedness" fade into
insignificance before this. The history of nations shows that their
strength was not in the size of their armies and in the vastness
of their population and wealth, but in the strength and ideals
of the individual citizens.
As long as the nation was young and growing--as long as the people were
But when the struggle stopped, the strength waned, for the strength
came from the struggle. When the people became materially prosperous
and surrendered to ease and indulgence, they became fat, stall-fed weaklings.
Then they fell a prey to younger, hardier peoples.
Has the American nation reached that period?
All over America are fathers and mothers who have struggled and
have become strong men and women thru their struggles, who are
living for our children. We are going to give them the best
Then, forgetful of how they became strong, they plan to take away
from their children their birthright--their opportunity to become
generally means getting out of his way. Many an orphan can be
"We are going to give our children the best education our money can buy."
They think they can buy an education--buy wisdom, strength and
understanding, and give it to them C. O. D! They seem to think they
will buy any brand they see--buy the home brand of education, or
else send off to New York or Paris or to "Sears Roebuck," and get
a bucketful or a tankful of education. If they are rich enough,
maybe they will have a private pipeline of education laid to their
home. They are going to force this education into them regularly
until they get them full of education. They are going to get them
Toll the bell! There's going to be a "blow out." Those inflated
Father and mother cannot buy their children education. All they can
do is to buy them some tools, perhaps, and open the gate and say,
"Sic 'em, Tige!" The children must get it themselves.
A father and mother might as well say, "We will buy our children
the strength we have earned in our arms and the wisdom we have
acquired in a life of struggle." As well expect the athlete to give
them his physical development he has earned in years of exercise.
As well expect the musician to give them the technic he has
acquired in years of practice. As well expect the scholar to give
them the ability to think he has developed in years of study. As
well expect Moses to give them his spiritual understanding acquired
in a long life of prayer.
They can show the children the way, but each child must make the
The Story of "Gussie"
There was a factory town back East. Not a pretty town, but just a
great, dirty mill and a lot of little dirty houses around the mill.
The hands lived in the little dirty houses and worked six days of
the week in the big mill.
There was a little, old man who went about that mill, often saying,
"I hain't got no book l'arnin' like the rest of you." He was the
man who owned the mill. He had made it with his own genius out of
nothing. He had become rich and honored. Every man in the mill
loved him like a father.
The little old man often said, "I'm going to give that boy the best
the minute the child could sit up in the cradle and notice things.
He sent him to the astrologer, the phrenologer and all other
"ologers" they had around there. When Gussie was old enough to
export, he sent the boy to one of the greatest universities in the
land. The fault was not with the university, not with Gussie, who
The fault was with the little old man, who was so wise and great
about everything else, and so foolish about his own boy. In the
blindness of his love he robbed his boy of his birthright.
The birthright of every child is the opportunity of becoming
great--of going up--of getting educated.
from Texas goes thru Mr. Armour's institute of packnology in
You remember, then, that after he matriculates--after he gets the
grand bump, said steer does not have to do another thing. His
and receives it. There is a row of professors with their sleeves
rolled up who give him the degrees. So as Mr. T. Steer of Panhandle
eternal cold storage, each professor hits him a dab. He rides along
They "canned" Gussie. He had a man hired to study for him. He rode
from department to department. They upholstered him, enameled him,
done and the paint was dry. He was a thing of beauty.
the baggage-car. It was checked. The mill shut down on a week day,
the first time in its history. The hands marched down to the depot,
and when the young lord alighted, the factory band played, "See,
the Conquering Hero Comes."
A few years later the mill shut down again on a week day. There was
crape hanging on the office door. Men and women stood weeping in
the streets. The little old man had been translated.
When they next opened up the mill, F. Gustavus Adolphus was at its head.
He had inherited the entire plant. "F. Gustavus Adolphus, President."
fill so great a place. In two years and seven months the mill was
a wreck. The monument of a father's lifetime was wrecked in two
years and seven months by the boy who had all the "advantages."
So the mill was shut down the third time on a week day. It looked
had a new kind of boss. If I were to give the new boss a
would swell up. How fast he grew! He became the most useful man in
the community. People forgot all about Bill's lowly origin. They
So when the courts were looking for somebody big enough to take charge
of the wrecked mill, they simply had to appoint Hon. William Whackem.
It was Hon. William Whackem who put the wreckage together and made
the wheels go round, and finally got the hungry town back to work.
After that a good many people said it was the college that made a
fool of Gussie. They said Bill succeeded so well because he never
went to one of "them highbrow schools." I am sorry to say I thought
But now I see that Bill went up in spite of his handicaps. If he
The book and the college suffer at the hands of their friends. They
say to the book and the college, "Give us an education." They cannot
do that. You cannot get an education from the book and the college
The book and the college show you the way, give you instruction and
furnish you finer working tools. But the real education is the
journey you make, the strength you develop, the service you perform
with these instruments and tools.
Gussie was in the position of a man with a very fine equipment of
tools and no experience in using them. Bill was the man with the
poor, homemade, crude tools, but with the energy, vision and
The "Hard Knocks Graduates"
people liberally educated who cannot write their own names. But
they have served and overcome and developed great lives with the
poor, crude tools at their command.
many or any books. Yet they are educated to the degree they have
acquired these elements of greatness in their lives.
They realized how they have been handicapped by their poor mental tools.
That is why they say, "All my life I have been handicapped by lack of
The young person with electrical genius will make an electrical
machine from a few bits of junk. But send him to Westinghouse and
see how much more he will achieve with the same genius and with
Get the best tools you can. But remember diplomas, degrees are not
an education, they are merely preparations. When you are thru with
the books, remember, you are having a commencement, not an
end-ment. You will discover with the passing years that life is
just one series of greater commencements.
Go out with your fine equipment from your commencements into the
school of service and write your education in the only book you
ever can know--the book of your experience.
That is what you know--what the courts will take as evidence when
they put you upon the witness stand.
The Tragedy of Unpreparedness
The story of Gussie and Bill Whackem is being written in every
tragedy of our American civilization today.
These fathers and mothers who toil and save, who get great farms,
fine homes and large bank accounts, so often think they can give
greatness to their children--they can make great places for them in
life and put them into them.
They do all this and the children rattle. They have had no chance
to grow great enough for the places. The child gets the blame for
making the wreck, even as Gussie was blamed for wrecking his
father's plant, when the child is the victim.
A man heard me telling the story of Gussie and Bill Whackem, and he
went out of my audience very indignant. He said he was very glad
his boy was not there to hear it. But that good, deluded father now
has his head bowed in shame over the career of his spoiled son.
I rarely tell of it on a platform that at the close of the lecture
For years poor Harry Thaw was front-paged on the newspapers and
gibbeted in the pulpits as the shocking example of youthful
a man. He seems to have been robbed of his birthright from the
cradle. Yet the father of this boy who has cost America millions in
court and detention expenses was one of the greatest business
generals of the Keystone state. He could plat great coal empires
and command armies of men, but he seems to have been pitifully
ignorant of the fact that the barrel shakes.
It is the educated, the rich and the worldly wise who blunder most in
the training of their children. Poverty is a better trainer for the rest.
The menace of America lies not in the swollen fortunes, but in the
shrunken souls who inherit them.
But Nature's eliminating process is kind to the race in the barrel
shaking down the rattlers. Somebody said it is only three
how few of our strong men get their start with steam heat?
You boys and girls, God bless you! You live in good homes. Father
and mother love you and give you everything you need. You get to
take care of me, and when they are gone I'll inherit everything
they have. I'm fixed for life."
to rattle. Father and mother can be great and you can be a peanut.
earn for yourself, is robbing you of your birthright.
Father and mother can put money in your pocket, ideas in your head
insect struggling inside the cocoon. It was trying to get out of
the envelope. It seemed in trouble and needed help. He opened the
envelope with a knife and set the struggling insect free. But out
and under-developed wings. He learned that helping the insect was
killing it. He took away from it the very thing it had to have--the
struggle. For it was this struggle of breaking its own way out of
But remember there is little virtue in work unless it is getting us
lie down to sleep, then another day of the same grind, then a year
of it and years following until our machine is worn out and on the
means one day nearer the scrapheap.
Such a worker is like the packhorse who goes forward to keep ahead
of the whip. Such a worker is the horse we used to have hitched to
the sorghum mill. Round and round that horse went, seeing nothing,
his ears. Such work deadens and stupefies. The masses work about
that way. They regard work as a necessary evil. They are
right--such work is a necessary evil, and they make it such. They
follow their nose. "Dumb, driven cattle."
But getting a vision of life, and working to grow upward to it,
that is the work that brings the joy and the greatness.
even the packhorse job, because it is our "meal ticket" that
"Helping" the Turkeys
One time I put some turkey eggs under the mother hen and waited day
by day for them to hatch. And sure enough, one day the eggs began
to crack and the little turkeys began to stick their heads out of
the shells. Some of the little turkeys came out from the shells all
right, but some of them stuck in the shells.
But they stuck to the shells.
hand." So I picked the shells off. "Little turkeys, you will never
know how fortunate you are. Ordinary turkeys do not have these
Did I help them? I killed them, or stunted them. Not one of the turkeys
was "right" that I helped. They were runts. One of them was a regular
Harry Thaw turkey. They had too many silk socks. Too many "advantages."
The cards are against him. He must succeed in spite of his "advantages."
character, for the joy of having a larger life. I am pleading with
you to know the joy of overcoming and having the angels come and
Children, I am pleading with you to find happiness. All the world
instead of by shaking up.
The happiness is in going up--in developing a greater arm, a
Happiness is the joy of overcoming. It is the delight of an
expanding consciousness. It is the cry of the eagle mounting
upward. It is the proof that we are progressing.
We find happiness in our work, not outside of our work. If we
cannot find happiness in our work, we have the wrong job. Find the
work that fits your talents, and stop watching the clock and
Loving friends used to warn me against "breaking down." They scared
me into "taking care" of myself. And I got to taking such good care
of myself and watching for symptoms that I became a physical wreck.
found my job in my work, not away from it, and the work refreshed
the undertaker. I am an editor in the daytime and a lecturer at
almost every day of the year--maybe two or three times some
days--and then take a vacation by editing and writing. Thus every
day is jam full of play and vacation and good times. The year is
one round of joy, and I ought to pay people for the privilege of
speaking and writing to them instead of them paying me!
If I did not like my work, of course, I would be carrying a
to be "absent from the body and present with the Lord." Thus this
old body behaves just beautifully and wags along like the tail
follows the dog when I forget all about it. The grunter lets the
tail wag the dog.
I have never known a case of genuine "overwork." I have never known
of anyone killing himself by working. But I have known of
multitudes killing themselves by taking vacations.
The people who think they are overworking are merely overworrying.
This is one species of selfishness.
To work at the things you love, or for those you love, is to turn
Many Kinds of Drunkards
The world is trying to find happiness in being amused. The world is
What a sad, empty lot of rattlers! Look over the bills of the movies,
look over the newsstands and see a picture of the popular mind,
for these places keep just what the people want to buy. What a lot
of mental frog-pond and moral slum our boys and girls wade thru!
There are ten literary drunkards to one alcoholic drunkard. There
are a hundred amusement drunkards to one victim of strong drink.
Almost every day as I go along the street to some hall to lecture,
I hear somebody asking, "What are they going to have in the hall
The speaker is perfectly honest. He has no place to put a lecture.
to follow his nose around. Other people generally lead his nose.
The man who will not make the effort to think is the great menace
to the nation. The crowd that drifts and lives for amusement is the
crowd that finds itself back near the caboose, and as the train of
progress leaves them, they wail, they "never had no chanct." They
want to start a new party to reform the government.
The Lure of the City
Do you ever get lonely in a city? How few men and women there. A
jam of people, most of them imitations--most of them trying to look
like they get more salary. Poor, hungry, doped butterflies of the
bright lights,--hopers, suckers and straphangers! Down the great
white way they go chasing amusement to find happiness. They must be
amused every moment, even when they eat, or they will have to be
alone with their empty lives.
The Prodigal Son came to himself afterwhile and thought upon his
ways. Then he arose and went to his father's house. Whenever one
will arise and go to his father's house of wisdom. But there is no
hope for the person who will not stop and think. And the devil
works day and night shifts keeping the crowd moving on.
That is why the crowd is not furnishing the strong men and women.
they contract, then they relax. But the muscle that goes on
continually relaxing is degenerating. And the individual, the
community, the nation that goes on relaxing without
The more you study your muscles, the more you learn that while one
muscle is relaxing another is contracting. So you must learn that
over to contracting another set of muscles.
Go to the bank president's office, go to the railroad magnate's
office, go to the great pulpit, to the college chair--go to any
place of great responsibility in a city and ask the one who fills
the place, "Were you born in this city?"
The reply is almost a monotony. "I born in this city? No, I was
ago and went to work at the bottom."
He glows as he tells you of some log-cabin home, hillside or
Give us steam heat and push-buttons. There is no virtue in a
log-cabin, save that there the necessity for struggle that brings
strength is most in evidence. There the young person gets the
that young person comes to the city and shakes in the barrel among
the weaklings of the artificial life, he rises above them like the
eagle soars above a lot of chattering sparrows.
The cities do not make their own steam. The little minority from
the farms controls the majority. The red blood of redemption flows
from the country year by year into the national arteries, else
these cities would drop off the map.
for lack of leaders.
"Hep" and "Pep" for the Home Town
But so many of the home towns of America are sick. Many are dying.
It is the lure of the city--and the lure-lessness of the country.
The town the young people leave is the town the young people ought
to leave. Somebody says, "The reason so many young people go to
hell is because they have no other place to go."
What is the matter with the small town? Do not blame it all upon
the city mail order house. With rural delivery, daily papers,
telephones, centralized schools, automobiles and good roads, there
are no more delightful places in the world to live than in the
country or in the small town. They have the city advantages plus
sunshine, air and freedom that the crowded cities cannot have.
I asked the keeper who was showing me thru the insane asylum at
people in this institution and only a score of guards to keep them
in. Aren't you in danger? What is to hinder these insane people
from getting together, organizing, overpowering the few guards and
The keeper was not in the least alarmed at the question. He smiled.
"Many people say that. But they don't understand. If these people
could get together they wouldn't be in this asylum. They are
insane. No two of them can agree upon how to get together and how
to break out. So a few of us can hold them."
It would be almost unkind to carry this further, but I have been
thinking ever since that about three-fourths of the small towns of
America have one thing in common with the asylum folks--they can't
get together. They cannot organize for the public good. They break
factions and neutralize each other's efforts.
A lot of struggling churches compete with each other instead of
massing for the common good. And when the churches fight, the devil
stays neutral and furnishes the munitions for both sides.
So the home towns stagnate and the young people with visions go
away to the cities where opportunity seems to beckon. Ninety-nine
out of a hundred of them will jostle with the straphangers all
their lives, mere wheels turning round in a huge machine.
Ninety-nine out of a hundred of them might have had a larger
opportunity right back in the home town, had the town been awake
We must make the home town the brightest, most attractive, most
promising place for the young people. No home town can afford to
spend its years raising crops of young people for the cities. That
is the worst kind of soil impoverishment--all going out and nothing
coming back. That is the drain that devitalizes the home towns more
than all the city mail order houses.
America is to be great, not in the greatness of a few crowded
cities, but in the greatness of innumerable home towns.
The slogan today should be, For God and Home and the Home Town!
A School of Struggle
Dr. Henry Solomon Lehr, founder of the Ohio Northern University at
Ada, Ohio, one of Ohio's greatest educators, used to say with
pride, "Our students come to school; they are not sent."
He encouraged his students to be self-supporting, and most of them
were working their way thru school. He made the school calendar and
courses elastic to accommodate them. He saw the need of combining
the school of books with the school of struggle. He organized his
school into competing groups, so that the student who had no
struggle in his life would at least have to struggle with the
others during his schooling.
debating societies to compete with each other. He arranged contests
for the military department. His school was one surging mass of
contestants. Yet each student felt no compulsion. Rather he felt
that he was initiating an individual or class effort to win. The
literary societies vied with each other in their programs and in
win over the others. They would go miles out on the trains to
intercept new students, even to their homes in other states. Each
old student pledged new students in his home country. The military
companies turned the school into a military camp for weeks each
Those students went out into the world trained to struggle. I do
not believe there is a school in America with a greater alumni roll
of men and women of uniformly greater achievement.
I believe the most useful schools today are schools of struggle
schools offering encouragement and facilities for young people to
work their way thru and to act upon their own initiative.
The old "deestrick" school is passing, and with it the small
academies and colleges, each with its handful of students around a
teacher, as in the old days of the lyceum in Athens, when the
pupils sat around the philosopher in the groves.
From these schools came the makers and the preservers of the nation.
wonderful equipment. Today we are replacing the many small colleges
universities. We are spending millions upon them in laboratories,
equipment and maintenance. Today we scour the earth for specialists
to sit in the chairs and speak the last word in every department of
O, how the students of the "dark ages" would have rejoiced to see
this day! Many of them never saw a germ!
But each student has the same definite effort to make in
assimilation today as then. Knowing and growing demand the same
personal struggle in the cushions of the "frat" house as back on
the old oak-slab bench with its splintered side up.
I am anxiously awaiting the results. I am hoping that the boys and
girls who come out in case-lots from these huge school plants will
not be rows of lithographed cans on the shelves of life. I am
hoping they will not be shorn of their individuality, but will have
it stimulated and unfettered. I am anxious that they be not
All this school machinery is only machinery. Back of it must be
men--great men. I am anxious that the modern school have the modern
equipment demanded to serve the present age. But I am more anxious
endowment, when the fact is that its struggle for existence and the
spirit of its teachers are its greatest endowment. And sometimes
when the money endowment comes the spiritual endowment goes in
calamities in the financial prosperity that has engulfed them.
foundations? That is the question the age is asking.
You and I are very much interested in the answer.
The Salvation of a "Sucker"
The Fiddle and the Tuning
For that sentence utters one of the fundamentals of life that
underlies every field of activity.
I have had the feeling ever since that you and I come into this
world like the fiddle comes from the factory. We have a body and a
neck. That is about all there is either to us or to the fiddle. We
are empty. We have no strings. We have no bow--yet!
When the human fiddles are about six years old they go into the
primary schools and up thru the grammar grades, and get the first
string--the little E string. The trouble is so many of these human
fiddles think they are an orchestra right away. They want to quit
We must show these little fiddles they must go back into school and
go up thru all the departments and institutions necessary to give
them the full complement of strings for their life symphonies.
After all this there comes the commencement, and the violin comes
forth with the E, A, D and G strings all in place. Educated now?
Why is a violin? To wear strings? Gussie got that far and gave a
lot of discord. The violin is to give music.
So there is much yet to do after getting the strings. All the book
and college can do is to give the strings--the tools. After that
the violin must go into the great tuning school of life. Here the
pegs are turned and the strings are put in tune. The music is the
vitalized, what you have written in the book of experience.
All of us are Christopher Columbuses, discovering the same new-old
continents of Truth. That is the true happiness of
idea of them. We hear the preacher utter truths and we say with
little feeling, "Yes, that is so." We hear the great truths of life
see it with our own eyes. Then there is a thrill. Then the old
truth becomes a new blessing. Then the oldest, driest platitude
consciousness. This joy of discovery is the joy of living.
There is such a difference between reading a thing and knowing a
thing. We could read a thousand descriptions of the sun and not
know the sun as in one glimpse of it with our own eyes.
I used to stand in the row of blessed little rascals in the
"If--I-p-p-play--with--the--f-f-f-i-i-i-i-r-r-e--I--will--g-e-e-et
play with the fire I will get my fingers burned. I had to slap my
hands upon hot stoves and coffee-pots, and had to get many kinds of
Then I had to go around showing the blisters, boring my friends and
taking up a collection of sympathy. "Look at my bad luck!" Fool!
the audience knew how little I know, you wouldn't stay.
longer than a human being. They are so smart you cannot teach them
with a few bumps. They have to be pulverized.
That sentence takes me back to the days when I was a "hired man" on
the farm. You might not think I had ever been a "hired man" on the
drink from a copper kettle. But I have fed him the fingers of this
of oxen and had said the words. But I have!
I remember the first county fair I ever attended. Fellow sufferers,
you may remember that at the county fair all the people sort out to
their own departments. Some people go to the canned fruit
department. Some go to the fancywork department. Some go to the
swine department. Everybody goes to his own department. Even the
"suckers"! Did you ever notice where they go? That is where I
went--to the "trimming department."
I was in the "trimming department" in five minutes. Nobody told me
where it was. I didn't need to be told. I gravitated there. The
barrel always shakes all of one size to one place. You notice
that--in a city all of one size get together.
Right at the entrance to the "local Midway" I met a gentleman. I
a little light table he could move quickly. Whenever the climate
were three little shells in a row, and there was a little pea under
the middle shell. I saw it there, being naturally bright. I was the
only naturally bright person around the table, hence the only one
who knew under which shell the little round pea was hidden.
Even the gentleman running the game was fooled. He thought it was
under the end shell and bet me money it was under the end shell.
I had saved up my money for weeks to attend the fair. I bet it all
on that middle shell. I felt bad. It seemed like robbing father.
But I needn't have felt bad. I did not rob father. Father cleaned
me out of all I had in about five seconds.
I went over to the other side of the fairgrounds and sat down. That
was all I had to do now--just go, sit down. I couldn't see the
mermaid now or get into the grandstand.
Sadly I thought it all over, but I did not get the right answer.
I said the thing every fool does say when he gets bumped and fails
to learn the lesson from the bump. I said, "Next time I shall be
I Bought the Soap
Learn? No! Within a month I was on the street a Saturday night when
another gentleman drove into town. He stopped on the public square
and stood up in his buggy. "Let the prominent citizens gather
Immediately all the prominent "suckers" crowded around the buggy.
I am putting these cakes of Wonder Soap in my hat. You see I am
wrapping a ten-dollar bill around one cake and throwing it into the
hat. Now who will give me five dollars for the privilege of taking
a cake of this wonderful soap from my hat--any cake you want, gentlemen!"
And right on top of the pile was the cake with the ten wrapped
around it! I jumped over the rest to shove my five (two weeks' farm
work) in his hands and grab that bill cake. But the bill
disappeared. I never knew where it went. The man whipped up his
and therefore good picking. They began to let me in on the ground
floor. Did anybody ever let you in on the ground floor? I never
could stick. Whenever anybody let me in on the ground floor it
seemed like I would always slide on thru and land in the cellar.
kept my investments in it. I mean, the investments I did not have
to lock up. You get the pathos of that--the investments nobody
open that drawer and "view the remains."
I had in that drawer the deed to my Oklahoma corner-lots. Those
lots were going to double next week. But they did not double I
doubled. They still exist on the blueprint and the Oklahoma
metropolis on paper is yet a wide place in the road.
hear of a rubber plantation in Central America? That was mine.
I had there my oil propositions. What a difference, I have learned,
between an oil proposition and an oil well! The learning has been
I had in that drawer my "Everglade" farm. Did you ever hear of the
"Everglades"? I have an alligator ranch there. It is below the
frost-line, also below the water-line. I will sell it by the
I had also a bale of mining stock. I had stock in gold mines and
my gold and silver mine stock, I often noticed that it was printed
in green. I used to wonder why they printed it in green--wonder if
they wanted it to harmonize with me! And I would realize I had so
much to live for--the dividends. I have been so near the dividends
I could smell them. Only one more assessment, then we will cut the
melon! I have heard that all my life and never got a piece of the rind.
Why go farther? I am not half done confessing. Each bump only
increased my faith that the next ship would be mine. Good, honest,
buy because I knew the minister was honest and believed in it. He
was selling it on his reputation. Favorite dodge of the promoter to
get the ministers to sell his shares.
dollar and got back a dollar or two of bonds and a dollar or two of
I pitied his lack of vision. Bankers were such "tightwads." They
had no imagination! Nothing interested me that did not offer fifty
or a hundred per cent.--then. Give me the five per cent. now!
By the time I was thirty-four I was a rich man in worthless paper.
savings into the bottom of the sea.
Then I got a confidential letter from a friend of our family I had
never met. His name was Thomas A. Cleage, and he was in the Rialto
Were you ever selected? If you were, then you know the thrill that
was a friend of our family. "You have been selected because you are
He knew me! He was the only man who did know me. So I took the
"Because of your tremendous influence you have been selected to go
in with us in the inner circle and get a thousand per cent.
train for St. Louis. I was afraid somebody might beat me there if
money for Tom, the friend of our family. But I see now I need not
have hurried so. They would have waited a month with the
happened in St. Louis. It is none of your business!
dollars to corner the wheat market of the world. That is all I paid
That bump set me to thinking. My fever began to reduce. I got the
I have always regarded Tom as one of my great school teachers. I
have always regarded the eleven hundred as the finest investment I
had made up to that time, for I got the most out of it. I do not
feel that we should endow them. How else can we save a sucker? You
fortune right up on this platform and put it down there on the
floor. I will not grasp it. Come away, it is a coffee-pot!
Today when somebody offers me much more than the legal rate of
interest I know he is no friend of our family.
If he offers me a hundred per cent. I call for the police!
been selected--" I never read farther than the word "selected."
Meeting is adjourned. I select the waste-basket. Here, get in there
O, Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son! Learn it early in life. The
law of compensation is never suspended. You only own what you earn.
will have to be "selected." There is no other way for you, because
have been selected to receive this bunch of blisters because you
look like the biggest sucker on the local landscape.
The other night in a little town of perhaps a thousand, a banker
took me up into his office after the lecture in which I had related
some of the above experiences. "The audience laughed with you and
pathetic. It was a picture of what is going on in our own little
I wish you could see the thousands of hard-earned dollars that go
out of our community every year into just such wildcat enterprises
as you described. The saddest part of it is that the money nearly
always goes out of the pockets of the people who can least afford
Learn that the gambler never owns his winnings. The man who
accumulates by sharp practices or by undue profits never owns it.
Even the young person who has large fortune given him does not own
The owning is in the understanding of values.
I often think if it takes me thirty-four years to begin to learn
one sentence, I see the need of an eternity.
To me that is one of the great arguments for eternal life--how slowly
I learn, and how much there is to learn. It will take an eternity!
The young person says, "By next June I shall have finished my
Bless them all! They will have put another string on their fiddle.
After they "finish" they have a commencement, not an end-ment, as
they think. This is not to sneer, but to cheer. Isn't it glorious
that life is one infinite succession of commencements and
I love to attend commencements. The stage is so beautifully
decorated and the joy of youth is everywhere. There is a row of
geraniums along the front of the stage and a big oleander on the
side. There is a long-whiskered rug in the middle. The graduates
sit in a semicircle upon the stage in their new patent leather. I
know how it hurts. It is the first time they have worn it.
Then they make their orations. Every time I hear their orations I
like them better, because every year I am getting younger. Damsel
"Beyond the Alps (sweep arms forward to the left, left arm leading)
lieth Italy!" (Bring arms down, letting fingers follow the wrist.
How embarrassing at a commencement for the fingers not to follow
the wrist! It is always a shock to the audience when the wrist
sweeps downward and the fingers remain up in the air. So by all
means, let the fingers follow the wrist, just as the elocution
2 stands at the same leadpencil mark on the floor, resplendent in
a filmy creation caught with something or other.
"We (hands at half-mast and separating) are rowing (business of
propelling aerial boat with two fingers of each hand, head
We are laughing the happy laugh at how we have learned these great
You get the most beautiful and sublime truths from Emerson's
essays. (How did they ever have commencements before Emerson?) But
that is not knowing them. You cannot know them until you have lived
them. It is a grand thing to say, "Beyond the Alps lieth Italy,"
up over Alps of difficulty and seeing the Italy of promise and
but you cannot really say that until you have pulled on the oar.
Did you ever hear a young preacher, just captured, just out of a factory?
was "short-circuited." The "brethren" waited upon me and told me I had
They gave me six weeks in which to load the gospel gun and get
ready for my try-out. I certainly loaded it to the muzzle.
But I made the mistake I am trying to warn you against. Instead of
going to the one book where I might have gotten a sermon--the book
of my experience, I went to the books in my father's library. "As
the poet Shakespeare has so beautifully said," and then I took a
chunk of Shakespeare and nailed it on page five of my sermon. "List
to the poet Tennyson." Come here, Lord Alfred. So I soldered these
fragments from the books together with my own native genius. I
worked that sermon up into the most beautiful splurges and spasms.
fourteen, where I had made a little mark in the margin which meant
"cry here." This was the spilling-point of the wet climax. I was to
cry on the lefthand side of the page.
I committed it all to memory, and then went to a lady who taught
I got the most beautiful gestures nailed into almost every page.
You know about gestures--these things you make with your arms in
the air as you speak. You can notice it on me yet.
I made my mistake. I got a lot of fine gestures. I got an
a mirror for six weeks, day by day, and said the sermon to the
Then came the grand day. The boy wonder stood forth and before his
grandly than ever to a mirror. Every gesture went off the bat
according to the blueprint. I cried on page fourteen! I never knew
Then I did another fine thing, I sat down. I wish now I had done
that earlier. I wish now I had sat down before I got up. I was the
last man out of the church--and I hurried. But they beat me
out--all nine of them. When I went out the door, the old sexton
said as he jiggled the key in the door to hurry me, "Don't feel
I cried all the way to town. If he had plunged a dagger into me he
that the old man was right. I had wonderful truth in that sermon.
No sermon ever had greater truth, but I had not lived it. The old
"Peeling Potatoes," and you are most likely to hear the applause
peal from that part of your audience unrelated to you.
Out of every thousand books published, perhaps nine hundred of them
do not sell enough to pay the cost of printing them. As you study
the books that do live, you note that they are the books that have
been lived. Perhaps the books that fail have just as much of truth
in them and they may even be better written, yet they lack the
vital impulse. They come out of the author's head. The books that
live must come out of his heart. They are his own life. They come
surging and pulsating from the book of his experience.
The best part of our schooling comes not from the books, but from
the men behind the books.
the knowing in the doing.
"There was never a picture painted,
There was never a poem sung,
But the soul of the artist fainted,
And the poet's heart was wrung."
So many young people think because they have a good voice and they have
cultivated it, they are singers. All this cultivation and irritation
and irrigation and gargling of the throat are merely symptoms of
They think the song comes from the diaphragm. But it comes from the
heart, chaperoned by the diaphragm. You cannot sing a song you have
Jessie was singing the other day at a chautauqua. She has a
attended to. She sang that afternoon in the tent, "The Last Rose of
Summer." She sang it with every note so well placed, with the
sweetest little trills and tendrils, with the smile exactly like
her teacher had taught her. Jessie exhibited all the machinery and
trimmings for the song, but she had no steam, no song. She sang the
notes. She might as well have sung, "Pop, Goes the Weasel."
The audience politely endured Jessie. That night a woman sang in
the same tent "The Last Rose of Summer." She had never been to
Berlin, but she had lived that song. She didn't dress the notes
half so beautifully as Jessie did, but she sang it with the
tremendous feeling it demands. The audience went wild. It was a
case of Gussie and Bill Whackem.
"this is the best singing lesson you have ever had. Your study is
cannot sing "The Last Rose of Summer" yet, for you do not know very
much about the first rose of summer. And really, I hope you'll
never know the ache and disappointment you must know before you can
sing that song, for it is the sob of a broken-hearted woman. Learn
to sing the songs you have lived."
Why do singers try to execute songs beyond the horizon of their
lives? That is why they "execute" them.
The Success of a Song-Writer
The guest of honor at a dinner in a Chicago club was a woman who is
one of the widely known song-writers of this land. As I had the
"How did you get your songs known? How did you know what kind of
songs the people want to sing?"
But in the hour she talked with her friends around the table I
found the answer to every question. "Isn't it good to be here?
meal a day and didn't know where the next meal was coming from. I
know what it is to be left alone in the world upon my own
resources. I have had years of struggle. I have been sick and
discouraged and down and out. It was in my little back-room, the
only home I had, that I began to write songs. I wrote them for my
heart and what the struggles were teaching me. No one is more
surprised and grateful that the world seems to love my songs and
asks for more of them."
The woman was Carrie Jacobs-Bond, who wrote "The Perfect Day,"
"Just a Wearyin' for You," "His Lullaby" and many more of those
simple little songs so full of the pathos and philosophy of life
that they tug at your heart and moisten your eyes.
No. Books of theory and harmony and expression only teach us how to
write the words and where to place the notes. These are not the
song, but only the skeleton into which our own life must breathe
the life of the song.
The woman who sat there clad in black, with her sweet, expressive
the University of Hard Knocks. She here became the song philosopher
loneliness, she never would have been able to write the songs that
appeal to the multitudes who have the same battles.
The popular song is the song that best voices what is in the
popular heart. And while we have a continual inundation of popular
songs that are trashy and voice the tawdriest human impulses, yet
it is a tribute to the good elements in humanity that the
continue to hold their popularity.
Theory and Practice
My friends, I am not arguing that you and I must drink the dregs of
around me in the affairs of everyday life, that none of us will
ever know real success in any line of human endeavor until that
success flows from the fullness of our experience just as the songs
came from the life of Carrie Jacobs-Bond.
The world is full of theorists, dreamers, uplifters, reformers, who
have worthy visions but are not able to translate them into
practical realities. They go around with their heads in the clouds,
looking upward, and half the time their feet are in the flower-beds
or trampling upon their fellow men they dream of helping. Their
the anvil of experience.
Many of the most brilliant theorists have been the greatest
There are a thousand who can tell you what is the matter with
things to one person who can give you a practical way to fix them.
anything you could think of was discussed, and perhaps the page. He
Indeed, in my childhood I thought he was the greatest man in the
His conversation was largely made up of classical quotations.
But he was one of the most helpless men I have ever seen in
himself. He could quote a page of John Locke, but somehow the page
didn't supply the one sentence needed for the occasion. The man was
a misfit on earth. He was liable to put the gravy in his coffee
and the gasoline in the fire. He seemed never to have digested any
of the things in his memory. Since I have grown up I always think
of that man as an intellectual cold storage plant.
The greatest book is the textbook of the University of Hard Knocks,
the Book of Human Experience the "sermons in stones" and the "books
Note the sweeping, positive statements of the young person.
Note the cautious, specific statements of the person who has lived
Our education is our progress from the sweeping, positive,
wholesale statements we have not proved, to the cautious, specific
Tuning the Strings of Life
Many audiences are gathered into this one audience. Each person
here is a different audience, reading a different page in the Book
of Human Experience. Each has a different fight to make and a
different burden to carry. Each one of us has more trouble than
I know there are chapters of heroism in the lives of you older
ones. You have cried yourselves to sleep, some of you, and walked
the floor when you could not sleep. You have learned that "beyond
the Alps lieth Italy."
A good many of you were bumped today or yesterday, or maybe years
ago, and the wound has not healed. You think it never will heal.
for a little while. I know there are people in this audience in pain.
Never do this many gather but what there are some with aching hearts.
man talking about? I haven't had these things and I'm not going to
have them, either!"
Maybe some of you are naturally bright!
sleep. You are going to walk the floor when you cannot sleep. Some
of you are going to know the keen sorrow of having the one you
You will see all that seems to make life livable lost out of your
For all lives have about the same elements. Your life is going to
be about like other lives.
And you are going to learn the wonderful lesson thru the years, the
bumps and the tears, that all these things somehow are necessary to
These bumps and hard knocks do not break the fiddle--they turn the pegs.
These bumps and tragedies and Waterloos draw the strings of the
pitch, where the discords fade from our lives and where the music
divine and harmonies celestial come from the same old strings that
had been sending forth the noise and discord.
Thus we know that our education is progressing, as the evil and
unworthy go out of our lives and as peace, harmony, happiness, love
Memories of the Price We Pay
father being a country preacher, we had tin spoons. We never had to
tie a red string around our spoons when we loaned them for the
Do you remember the first money you ever earned? I do. I walked
several miles into the country those old reaper days and gathered
sheaves. That night I was proud when that farmer patted me on the
head and said, "You are the best boy to work, I ever saw." Then the
That "Last Day of School"
handle it, hence the tale that follows.
There is hope for green things. I was so tall and awkward then--I
several dollars the lowest bidder. They said out that way, "Anybody
My second, Make, em recite. That is, fill 'em up and then empty 'em.
I walked thirteen miles a day, six and a half miles each way, most of
the time, to save money. I think I had all teaching methods in use.
With the small fry I used a small paddle to win their confidence and
arouse their enthusiasm for an education. With the pupils larger and
more muscular than their teacher I used love and moral suasion.
We ended the school with an "exhibition." Did you ever attend the
old back-country "last day of school exhibition"? The people that
day came from all over the township. They were so glad our school
was closing they all turned out to make it a success. They brought
great baskets of provender and we had a feast. We covered the
school desks with boards, and then covered the boards with piles of
fried chicken, doughnuts and forty kinds of pie.
Then we had a "doings." Everybody did a stunt. We executed a lot of
literature that day. Execute is the word that tells what happened
speak their "pieces." I hardly knew them and they hardly knew me,
for we were "dressed up." Many a head showed father had mowed it
with the sheepshears. Mother had been busy with the wash-rag--clear
back of the ears! And into them! So many of them wore collars that
stuck out all stiff like they had pushed their heads on thru their
I can see them speaking their "pieces." I can see "The Soldier of
the Legion lay dying in Algiers." We had him die again that day,
and he had a lingering end as we executed him. I can see "The boy
stood on the burning deck, whence all but he had fled." I can see
"Mary's little lamb" come slipping over the stage. I see the
There came a breathless hush as "teacher" came forward as the last
act on the bill to say farewell. It was customary to cry. I wanted
got up before that "last day of school" audience and opened my
mouth, it was a great opening, but nothing came out. It came out of
my eyes. Tears rolled down my cheeks until I could hear them
And my pupils wept as their dear teacher said farewell. Parents
them up, but they wept the more.
never got home with the money. Talk about the fool and his money
For on the way home I met Deacon K, and he borrowed it all. Deacon K
was "such a good man" and a "pillar of the church." I used to wonder,
confidence in the deacon.
"due at corncutting," as a souvenir of my first schoolteaching.
scarcely know whether to look up or down as I say that. He never
but I paid all the money I got from it--two hundred and forty
from the books, that it takes less wisdom to make money, than it
Which is no slap at the church, but at its worst enemies, the foes
of its own household.
Calling the Class-Roll
imagine most lecturers have a hard time lecturing in the home town.
Their schoolmates and playmates are apt to be down there in the
front rows with their families, and maybe all the old scores have
not yet been settled. The boy he fought with may be down there.
Perhaps the girl who gave him the "mitten" is there.
And he has gotten his lecture out of that home town. The heroes and
villains live there within striking distance. Perhaps they have
come to hear him. "Is not this the carpenter's son?" Perhaps this
is why some lecturers and authors are not so popular in the home
I went back to the same hall to speak, and stood upon the same platform
Then I went back to the little hotel and sat up alone in my room
half the night living it over. Time was when I thought anybody who
could live in that hotel was a superior order of being. But the
time had come when I knew the person who could go on living in any
hotel has a superior order of vitality.
a picture of the school in that town that had been taken twenty-one
years before, just before commencement. I had not seen the picture
these twenty-one years, for I could not then afford to buy one. The
I got a truer perspective of life that night. Did you ever sit
alone with a picture of your classmates taken twenty-one years
A class of brilliant and gifted young people went out to take
charge of the world. They were so glad the world had waited so long
on them. They were so willing to take charge of the world. They
There was one boy in the class who was not naturally bright. It was
not the one you may be thinking of! No, it was Jim Lambert. He had
intellect. He was "conditioned" into the senior class. We all felt
As commencement day approached, the committee of the class
appointed for that purpose took Jim back of the schoolhouse and
broke the news to him that they were going to let him graduate, but
they were not going to let him speak, because he couldn't make a
speech that would do credit to such a brilliant class. They hid Jim
on the stage back of the oleander commencement night.
Shake the barrel!
The girl who was to become the authoress became the helloess in the
the community. The girl who was to become the poetess became the
goddess at the general delivery window and superintendent of the
stamp-licking department of the home postoffice. The boy who was
going to Confess was raising the best corn in the county, and his
wife was speaker of the house.
Most of them were doing very well even Jim Lambert. Jim had become
the head of one of the big manufacturing plants of the South, with
a lot of men working for him. The committee that took him out
behind the schoolhouse to inform him he could not speak at
marked, "Mr. Lambert, Private." They would have to send up their
cards, and the watchdog who guards the door would tell them, "Cut
it short, he's busy!" before they could break any news to him
They hung a picture of Mr. Lambert in the high school at the last
alumni meeting. They hung it on the wall near where the oleander
a bit of cheer from the story of Jim?
that school picture and the twenty-one years. There were fifty-four
young people in that picture. They had been shaken these years in
the barrel, and now as I called the roll on them, most of them that
Out of that fifty-four, one had gone to a pulpit, one had gone to
Congress and one had gone to the penitentiary. Some had gone to
almost every note on the keyboard of human possibility had been
struck by the one school of fifty-four.
When that picture was taken the oldest was not more than eighteen,
yet most of them seemed already to have decided their destinies.
The twenty-one years that followed had not changed their courses.
The only changes had come where God had come into a life to uplift
that the foolish dreams of success faded before the natural
unfolding of talents, which is the real success. I saw better that
"the boy is father to the man."
The boy who skimmed over his work in school was skimming over his
work as a man. The boy who went to the bottom of things in school
was going to the bottom of things in manhood. Which had helped him
to go to the top of things!
Jim Lambert had merely followed the call of talents unseen in him
The lazy boy became a "tired" man. The industrious boy became an
industrious man. The sporty boy became a sporty man. The
domineering egotist boy became the domineering egotist man.
The boy who traded knives with me and beat me--how I used to envy
him! Why was it he could always get the better of me? Well, he went
on trading knives and getting the better of people. Now, twenty-one
years afterwards, he was doing time in the state penitentiary for
when he did the same things on a smaller scale they called him
The "perfectly lovely" boy who didn't mix with the other boys, who
combed, and said, "If you please," used to hurt me. He was the
teacher's model boy. All the mothers of the community used to say
to their own reprobate offspring, "Why can't you be like Harry?
He'll be President of the United States some day, and you'll be in
believe Mr. Webster defines a model as a small imitation of the
because he hadn't the energy to be anything else. It was the boys
who had the hustle and the energy, who occasionally needed
I have said little about the girls of the school. Fact was, at that
age I didn't pay much attention to them. I regarded them as in the
way. But I naturally thought of Clarice, our social pet of the
class--our real pretty girl who won the vase in the home paper
beauty contest. Clarice went right on remaining in the social
spotlight, primping and flirting. She outshone all the rest. But it
popularity for success. The boys voted for her, but did not marry
her. Most of the girls who shone with less social luster became the
happy homemakers of the community.
But as I looked into the face of Jim Lambert in the picture, my
heart warmed at the sight of another great success--a sweet-faced
these years to support a home and care for her family. She had kept
her grace and sweetness thru it all, and the influence of her
The Boy I Had Envied
Frank was the boy I had envied. He had everything--a fine home,
a loving father, plenty of money, opportunity and a great career
Everybody said Frank would make his mark in the world and make
the town proud of him.
I was the janitor of the schoolhouse. Some of my classmates will
never know how their thoughtless jeers and jokes wounded the
sensitive, shabby boy who swept the floors, built the fires and
carried in the coal. After commencement my career seemed to end and
the careers of Frank and the rest of them seemed to begin. They
were going off to college and going to do so many wonderful things.
But the week after commencement I had to go into a printing office,
roll up my sleeves and go to work in the "devil's corner" to earn
Many a time as I plugged at the "case" I would think of Frank and wonder
why some people had all the good things and I had all the hard things.
Twenty-one years afterward as I got off the train in the home town,
I asked, "Where is he?" We went out to the cemetery, where I stood
at a grave and read on the headstone, "Frank."
I had the story of a tragedy--the tragedy of modern unpreparedness.
It was the story of the boy who had every opportunity, but who had
all the struggle taken out of his life. He never followed his
a fortune, broke his father's heart, shocked the community, and
It revived the memory of the story of Ben Hur.
Do you remember it? The Jewish boy is torn from his home in
trial at the hands of this world. That is why the great Judge has
said, judge not, for you have not the full evidence in the case. I
Then they condemn him. They lead him away to the galleys. They
chain him to the bench and to the oar. There follow the days and
long years when he pulls on the oar under the lash. Day after day
he pulls on the oar. Day after day he writhes under the sting of
the lash. Years of the cruel injustice pass. Ben Hur is the
helpless victim of a mocking fate.
That seems to be your life and my life. In the kitchen or the
office, or wherever we work we seem so often like slaves bound to
the oar and pulling under the sting of the lash of necessity. Life
seems one futureless round of drudgery. We wonder why. We often
look across the street and see somebody who lives a happier life.
That one is chained to no oar. See what a fine time they all have.
Why must we pull on the oar?
they, too, pull on the oar and feel the lash. Most likely they are
looking back at us and envying us. For while we envy others, others
But look at the chariot race in Antioch. See the thousands in the
circus. See Messala, the haughty Roman, and see! Ben Hur from the
galleys in the other chariot pitted against him. Down the course
dash these twin thunderbolts. The thousands hold their breath. "Who
will win?" "The man with the stronger forearms," they whisper.
There comes the crucial moment in the race. See the man with the
stronger forearms. They are bands of steel that swell in the
forearms of Ben Hur. They swing those flying Arabians into the
inner ring. Ben Hur wins the race! Where got the Jew those huge
forearms? From the galleys!
Had Ben Hur never pulled on the oar, he never could have won the
mistakes in the bookkeeping. As we pull on the oar, so often lashed
interest in the bank account of strength. Sooner or later the time
on--when we win the victory, strike the deciding blow, stand while
those around us fall--and it is won with the forearms earned in the
galleys of life by pulling on the oar.
That is why I thanked God as I stood at the grave of my classmate.
I thanked God for parents who believed in the gospel of struggle,
and for the circumstances that compelled it.
I am not an example of success.
But I am a very grateful pupil in the first reader class of The
University of Hard Knocks.
The Book in the Running Brook
THERE is a little silvery sheet of water in Minnesota called Lake Itasca.
There is a place where a little stream leaps out from the lake.
"Ole!" you will exclaim, "the lake is leaking. What is the name of
So even the Father of Waters has to begin as a creek. We are at the
cradle where the baby river leaps forth. We all start about alike.
It wabbles around thru the woods of Minnesota. It doesn't know
where it is going, but it is "on the way."
to the place where all of us get sooner or later. The place where
Paul came on the road to Damascus. The place of the "heavenly vision."
It is the place where gravity says, "Little Mississippi, do you
want to grow? Then you will have to go south."
The little Mississippi starts south. He says to the people,
"Goodbye, folks, I am going south." The folks at Itascaville say,
get out of the county." That is a fact, but he is not trying to get
out of the county. The Mississippi is only trying to go south.
The Mississippi knows nothing about the Gulf of Mexico. He does not
know that he has to go hundreds of miles south. He is only trying
He goes a foot south, then another foot south. He goes a mile
goes on south. He picks up another stream and grows some more. Day
My friends, here is one of the best pictures I can find in nature
of what it seems to me our lives should be. I hear a great many
orations, especially in high school commencements, entitled, "The
Value of a Goal in Life." But the direction is vastly more
important than the goal. Find the way your life should go, and then
supplies we will need along the way. All we have to do is to start
and we will find the resources all along the way. We will grow as
we flow. All of us can start! And then go on south!
not at the end of the journey, for there is no end. Success is
every day in flowing and growing. The Mississippi is a success in
You and I sooner or later hear the call, "Go on south." If we
haven't heard it, let us keep our ear to the receiver and live a
more natural life, so that we can hear the call. We are all called.
It is a divine call--the call of our unfolding talents to be used.
Remember, the Mississippi goes south. If he had gone any other
direction he would never have been heard of.
Three wonderful things develop as the Mississippi goes on south.
3. He blesses the valley, but the valley does not bless him.
You never meet the Mississippi after he starts south, but what he
The Mississippi gets to St. Paul and Minneapolis. He is a great
river now--the most successful river in the state. But he does not
Do you know why the Mississippi goes on south? To continue to be
the Mississippi. If he should stop and stagnate, he would not be
the Mississippi, river. he would become a stagnant, poisonous pond.
As long as people keep on going south, they keep on living. When
they stop and stagnate, they die.
That is why I am making it the slogan of my life--GO ON SOUTH AND
each day. I wish I could write it over the pulpits, over the
schoolrooms, over the business houses and homes--GO ON SOUTH AND
GROW GREATER. For this is life, and there is no other. This is
education--and religion. And the only business of life.
You and I start well. We go on south a little ways, and then we
retire. Even young people as they start south and make some little
their press notices. Their friends crowd around them to congratulate
them. "I must congratulate you upon your success. You have arrived."
So many of those young goslings believe that. They quit and get
canned. They think they have gotten to the Gulf of Mexico when they
have not gotten out of the woods of Minnesota. Go on south!
one victory. Success goes to the head and defeat goes to "de feet."
It makes them work harder.
The Plague of Incompetents
The one who keeps on going south defies custom and becomes unorthodox.
But contentment with present achievement is the damnation of the race.
The mass of the human family never go on south far enough to
become good servants, workmen or artists. The young people get a
smattering and squeeze into the bottom position and never go on
south to efficiency and promotion. They wonder why their genius is
not recognized. They do not make it visible.
Nine out of ten stenographers who apply for positions can write a
few shorthand characters and irritate a typewriter keyboard. They
think that is being a stenographer, when it is merely a symptom of
a stenographer. They mangle the language, grammar, spelling,
capitalization and punctuation. Their eyes are on the clock, their
minds on the movies.
Nine out of ten workmen cannot be trusted to do what they advertise
to do, because they have never gone south far enough to become
efficient. Many a professional man is in the same class.
Half of our life is spent in getting competents to repair the
botchwork of incompetents.
I could not play so well with such little practice." The poor
is the opiate that Nature administers to deaden the pains of mediocrity.
Just because our hair gets frosty or begins to rub off in spots, we
always get results. See the one shrivel who goes around
We say, "I've seen my best days." And the undertaker goes and
Go on south! We have not seen our best days. This is the best day
A-B-C's. I do not utter that as a bit of sentiment, but as the
great fundamental of our life. I hope the oldest in years sees that
eternal youth. It is the one who stops who "ages rapidly." Each day
brings us a larger vision. Infinity, Eternity, Omnipotence,
We have left nothing behind but the husks. I would not trade this
moment for all the years before it. I have their footings at
compound interest! They are dead. This is life.
Yesterday I had a birthday. I looked in the glass and communed with
You children cheer up. Your black hair and auburn hair and the other
Don't worry about gray hair or baldness. Only worry about the location
of your gray hair or baldness. If they get on the inside of the head,
worry. Do you know why corporations sometimes say they do not want
to employ gray-headed men? They have found that so many of them
have quit going on south and have gotten gray on the inside--or bald.
These same corporations send out Pinkertons and pay any price for
gray-headed men--gray on the outside and green on the inside. They
are the most valuable, for they have the vision and wisdom of many
years and the enthusiasm and "pep" and courage of youth.
The preacher, the teacher--everyone who gets put on the retired
The most wonderful person in the world is the one who has lived
years and years on earth and has perhaps gotten gray on the
outside, but has kept young and fresh on the inside. Put that
person in the pulpit, in the schoolroom, in the office, behind the
ticket-window or on the bench--or under the hod--and you find the
"Please don't throw it up to me now. I am just as ashamed of it as
O, I want to forget all the past, save its lessons. I am just
the "limit." I shiver as I think what I was saying then. I want to
go on south shivering about yesterday. These years I have noticed
the people on the platform who were contented with their offerings,
were not trying to improve them, and were lost in admiration of
what they were doing, did not stay long on the platform. I have
watched them come and go, come and go. I have heard their fierce
invectives against the bureaus and ungrateful audiences that were
"prejudiced" against them.
Birthdays are not annual affairs. Birthdays are the days when we
have a new birth. The days when we go on south to larger visions.
From what I can learn of Methuselah, he never grew past copper-toed
The more birthdays we have, the nearer we approach eternal youth!
The spectacle of Sarah Bernhardt, past seventy, thrilling and
gripping audiences with the fire and brilliancy of youth, is
acting, for she remains the "Divine Sarah" with no crippling of her
work. She looks younger than many women of half her years. "The
ninety-two was working as hard and hopefully as any man of the
the Odd Fellows' Home near Elkins, where he lived. On the porch of
the home was a row of old men inmates. The senator shook hands with
these men and one by one they rose from the bench to return his
The last man on the bench did not rise. He helplessly looked up at
the senator and said, "Senator, you'll have to excuse me from
get up, either."
The senator at ninety-two was younger than the man "past sixty,"
When I was a little boy I saw them bring the first phonograph that
Mr. Edison invented into the meeting at Lakeside, Ohio. The people
cheered when they heard it talk.
But the people said, "Mr. Edison has succeeded." There was one man
south. A million people would have stopped there and said, "I have
arrived." They would have put in their time litigating for their
rights with other people who would have gone on south with the
on south. A young lady succeeded in getting into his laboratory the
other day, and she wrote me that the great inventor showed her one
I doubt if there are ten men in America who could go on south in
the face of seven thousand failures. Today he brings forth a
what he has said to reporters and what he said to the young lady,
me how much there is yet to do."
What a difference between "ed" and "ing"! The difference between
Moses, the great Hebrew law-giver, was eighty years old before he
even get on the back page of the Egyptian newspapers till he was
eighty. He went on south into the extra editions after that!
If Moses had retired at seventy-nine, we'd never have heard of him.
If Moses had retired to a checkerboard in the grocery store or to
pitching horseshoes up the alley and talking about "ther winter of
fifty-four," he would have become the seventeenth mummy on the
thirty-ninth row in the green pickle-jar!
Imagine Moses living today amidst the din of the high school
orations on "The Age of the Young Man" and the Ostler idea that you
time" when he becomes the leader of the Israelite host.
I would see his scandalized friends gather around him. "Moses! Moses!
what is this we hear? You going to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land?
You are liable to drop off any minute. Here is a pair of slippers.
And keep out of the night air. It is so hard on old folks."
what to do. Watch things happen from now on. Children of
I see Moses at eighty starting for the Wilderness so fast Aaron
enthusiastic than ever. The people say, "Isn't Moses dead?" "No."
They appoint a committee to bury Moses. You cannot do anything in
America without a committee. The committee gets out the invitations
and makes all the arrangements for a gorgeous funeral next
Thursday. They get ready the resolutions of respect--
Then I see the committee waiting on Moses. That is what a committee
does--it "waits" on something or other. And this committee goes up
to General Moses' private office. It is his busy day. They have to
stand in line and wait their turn. When they get up to Moses' desk,
the great prophet says, "Boys, what is it? Cut it short, I'm busy."
The committee begins to weep. "General Moses, you are a very old
man. You are eighty-five years old and full of honors. We are the
committee duly authorized to give you gorgeous burial. The funeral
They cannot bury Moses. He cannot attend. You cannot bury anybody
until he consents. It is bad manners! The committee is so
mortified, for all the invitations are out. It waits.
Moses is eighty-six and the committee 'phones over, "Moses, can you
to hold that funeral until I get this work pushed off so I can
The committee waits. Moses is ninety and rushed more than ever.
himself. But he makes the committee wait.
Moses is ninety-five and burning the candle at both ends.
He is a hundred. And the committee dies!
is a hundred and twenty. Even then I read, "His eye was not dim,
So God buried him. The committee was dead. O, friends, this is not
irreverence. It is joyful reverence. It is the message to all of
us, Go on south to the greater things, and get so enthused and
absorbed in our going that we'll fool the "committee."
All the multitudes of the Children of Israel died in the Wilderness.
They were afraid to go on south. Only two of them went on south--
Joshua and Caleb. They put the giants out of business.
The Indians once owned America. But they failed to go on south.
So another crop of Americans came into the limelight. If we modern
Americans do not go on south we will join the Indians, the auk
and the dodo.
The "Sob Squad"
I am so sorry for the folks who quit, retire, "get on the shelf" or
They generally join the "sob squad."
They generally discover the world is "going to the dogs." They cry
on my shoulder, no matter how good clothes I wear.
They tell me nobody uses them right. The person going on south has
They say nobody loves them. Which is often a fact. Nobody loves the
They say, "Only a few more days of trouble, only a few more
they do with them when they get them there? They would be dill
pickles in the heavenly preserve-jar.
They say, "I wish I were a child again. I was happy when I was a
child and I'm not happy now. Them was the best days of my life
the horrors of childhood could not be hired to live it over again.
If there is anybody who does not have a good time, if there is
Waiting till the "Second Table"
I wish I could forget many of my childhood memories. I remember the
palmy days. And the palm!
I often wonder how I ever lived thru my childhood. I would not take
I had advantages. I was born in a parsonage and was reared in the
nurture and admiration of the Lord. I am not just sure I quoted
about all there was to inherit. I cannot remember when I was not
hungry. I used to go around feeling like the Mammoth Cave, never
children going sadly into the next room to "wait till the second
that my heart does not go out to them. I remember when I did that.
Elder Berry always stayed for dinner. He was one of the easiest men
Mother would stay home from "quart'ly meeting" to get the big
dinner ready. She would cook up about all the "brethren" brought in
at the last donation. We had one of those stretchable tables,
and mother would stretch it clear across the room and put on two
table-cloths. She would lap them over in the middle, where the hole was.
I would watch her get the big dinner ready. I would look over the
long table and view the "promised land." I would see her set on the
jelly. I don't just remember if they had blue jelly, but if they
had it we had it on that table. All the jelly that ever "jelled"
meeting" day. I would watch the jelly tremble. Did you ever see
I would see mother put on the tallest pile of mashed potatoes you
ever saw. She would make a hollow in the top and fill it with
butter. I would see the butter melt and run down the sides, and I
would say, "Hurry, mother, it is going to spill!" O, how I wanted
And then Elder Berry would sit down at the table, at the end
nearest the fried chicken. The "company" would sit down. I used to
wonder why we never could have a big dinner but what a lot of
"company" had to come and gobble it up. They would fill the table
and father would sit down in the last seat. There was no place for
me to sit. Father would say, "You go into the next room, my boy,
and wait. There's no room for you at the table."
The hungriest one of that assemblage would have to go in the next
room and hear the big dinner. Did you ever hear a big dinner when
you felt like the Mammoth Cave? I used to think as I would sit in
the next room that heaven would be a place where everybody would
eat at the first table.
I would watch them thru the key-hole. It was going so fast. There
was only one piece of chicken left. It was the neck. O, Lord, spare
the neck! And I would hear them say, "Elder Berry, may we help you
to another piece of the chicken?"
And Elder Berry would take the neck!
Many a time after that, Elder Berry would come into the room where
I was starving. He would say, "Brother Parlette, is this your
boy?" He would come over to the remains of Brother Parlette's boy.
He would often put his hand in benediction upon my head.
My head was not the place that needed the benediction.
When all the chicken was gone and he had taken the neck! "My boy,
you are seeing the best days of your life right now as a child."
The dear old liar! I was seeing the worst days of my life. If there
is anybody shortchanged--if there is anybody who doesn't have a
and today is the best day of all. Go on south!
days. Of course, you can be happy as a child. A boy can be happy
more like mine like a piece of sandpaper. There are chapters of
happiness undreamed of in his philosophy.
A child can be full of happiness and only hold a pint. But
afterwhile the same child will hold a quart.
I think I hold a gallon now. And I see people in the audience who
must hold a barrel! Go on south. Of course, I do not mean
today it is such a relief to look people in the face and say,
And I have to say that to many questions, "I do not know." I often
think if people in an audience only knew how little I know, they
But some day I shall know! I patiently wait for the answer. Every
day brings the answer to something I could not answer yesterday.
As the Mississippi River goes on south he finds obstacles along the
They have built a great concrete obstacle clear across the path of
the river. It is many feet high, and many, many feet long. The
river cannot go on south. Watch him. He rises higher than the
Over the great power dam at Keokuk sweeps the Mississippi. And then
you see the struggle of overcoming the obstacle develops light and
power to vitalize the valley. A hundred towns and cities radiate
the light and power from the struggle. The great city of St. Louis,
many miles away, throbs with the victory.
So that is why they spent the millions to build the obstacle--to
get the light and the power. The light and the power were latent in
the river, but it took the obstacle and the overcoming to develop
We develop our light and power. We are rivers of light and power,
Obstacles are the power stations on our way south!
And where the most obstacles are, there you find the most power to
be developed. So many of us do not understand that. We look
southward and we see the obstacles in the road. "I am so
unfortunate. I could do these great things, but alas! I have so
many obstacles in the way."
Thank God! You are blessed of Providence. They do not waste the
obstacles. The presence of the obstacles means that there is a lot
of light and power in you to be developed. If you see no obstacles,
I hear people saying, "I hope the time may speedily come when I
ring up the hearse, for you will be a "dead one."
Life is going on south, and overcoming the obstacles. Death is
The fact that we are not buried is no proof that we are alive. Go
along the street in almost any town and see the dead ones. There
they are decorating the hitching-racks and festooning the
storeboxes. There they are blocking traffic at the postoffice and
depot. There they are in the hotel warming the chairs and making
the guests stand up. There they are--rows of retired farmers who
they will never need anything more than burying.
For they are dead from the ears up. They have not thought a new
thought the past month. Sometimes they sit and think, but generally
they just sit. They have not gone south an inch the past year.
Usually the deadest loafer is married to the livest woman. Nature
They block the wheels of progress and get in the way of the people
trying to go on south. They say of the people trying to do things.
They do not join in to promote the churches and schools and big
brother movements. They growl at the lyceum courses and chautauquas,
because they "take money outa town." They do not take any of their
money "outa town." Ringling and Barnum & Bailey get theirs.
I do not smile as I refer to the dead. I weep. I wish I could
squirt some "pep" into them and start them on south.
But all this lecture has been discussing this, so I hurry on to the
last glimpse of the book in the running brook.
Here we come to the most wonderful and difficult thing in life. It
is the supreme test of character. That is, Why go on south? Not for
for anything outside, but for the happiness that comes from within.
The Mississippi blesses the valley every day as he goes on south
and overcomes. But the valley does not bless the river in return.
The valley throws its junk back upon the river. The valley pours
its foul, muddy, poisonous streams back upon the Mississippi to
defile him. The Mississippi makes St. Paul and Minneapolis about
all the prosperity they have, gives them power to turn their mills.
But the Twin Cities merely throw their waste back upon their
The Mississippi does not resign. He does not tell a tale of woe. He
I am not going a step farther south. I am going right back to Lake
Itasca." No, he does not even go to live with his father-in-law.
few miles below the Twin Cities and see how, by some mysterious
alchemy of Nature, the Mississippi has taken over all the poison
and the defilement, he has purified it and clarified it, and has
made it a part of himself. And he is greater and farther south!
He fattens upon bumps. Kick him, and you push him farther south.
Civilization conspires to defeat the Mississippi. Chicago's
drainage canal pollutes him. The flat, lazy Platte, three miles
wide and three inches deep; the peevish, destructive Kaw, and all
those streams that unite to form the treacherous, sinful,
irresponsible lower Missouri; the big, muddy Ohio, the Arkansas,
the Red, the black and the blue floods--all these pour into the
Day by day the Father of Waters goes on south, taking them over and
purifying them and making them a part of himself. Nothing can
Wonderful the book in the running brook! We let our life stream
along such a heart full of the injuries that other people have done
us, that sometimes we are bank to bank full of poison and a menace
we ought to forget. We need schools of memory, but we need schools
of forgettery, even more.
As you go on south and bless your valley, do you notice the valley
does not bless you very much? Have you sadly noted that the people
you help the most often are the least grateful in return?
Don't wait to be thanked. Hurry on to avoid the kick! Do good to
others because that is the way to be happy, but do not wait for a
There is nobody who does not have that to meet. The preacher, the
teacher, the editor, the man in office, the business man, the
father and mother--every one who tries to carry on the work of the
church, the school, the lyceum and chautauqua, the work that makes
Stop! You are not saying that. The evil one is whispering that into
get the sharp edge started into your thought, he is going to drive
You do not go south and overcome your obstacles and bless the
valley for praise or blame, for appreciation or lack of it. You do
YOU ARE SAVING YOURSELF BY SAVING OTHERS. GO ON SOUTH!
ourselves that we are working to do good, when as we do the good,
us a medal or resolutions, we want to quit. That is why there are
so many disappointed and disgruntled people in the world. They worked
for outside thanks instead of inside thanks. They were trying to
be personal saviours. They say this is an ungrateful world.
O, how easy it is to say these things, and how hard it is to do them!
Reaching the Gulf
But because the Mississippi does these things, one day the train I
I watched them pile the steel train upon a ferry-boat. I watched
the boat crossing a river more than a mile wide. Standing upon the
ferry-boat, I could look down into the lordly river and then far
north perhaps fifteen hundred miles to the little struggling
streamlet starting southward thru the forests of Minnesota, there
writing the first chapter of this wonderful book in the running brook.
I thank God that I had gone a little farther southward in my own
life. Father of Waters, you have fought a good fight. You are
conquering gloriously. You bear upon your bosom the commerce of
you get in the right channel, saw you learn the lessons of your
And may we read it into our own lives. May we get the vision of
which way to go, and then keep on going south--on and on, overcoming,
getting the lessons of the bumps, the strength from the struggle
and thus making it a part of ourselves, and thus growing greater.
Where shall we stop going south? At the Gulf of Mexico?
The Mississippi knows nothing about the gulf. He goes on south
until he reaches the gulf. Then he pushes right on into the gulf as
many miles right out into the gulf.
And when he comes to the end of his physical banks, he pushes on
south into the gulf, and goes on south round and round the globe.
When you and I come to our Gulf of Mexico, we must push right on
south. So we push our physical banks years farther into the gulf.
into the great Gulf of the Beyond, to go on south unfolding thru eternity.
The Defeats that are Victories
HOW often we say, "I wish I had a million!" Perhaps it is a
blessing that we have not the million. Perhaps it would make us
other people to make them lazy, selfish and unhappy.
O, the problem is not how to get money, but how to get rid of
money with the least injury to the race!
Perhaps getting the million would completely spoil us. Look at the
wild cat and then look at the tabby cat. The wild cat supports
itself and the tabby cat has its million. So the tabby cat has to
If the burden were lifted from most of us we would go to wreck.
Necessity is the ballast in our life voyage.
When you hear the orator speak and you note the ease and power of
his work, do you think of the years of struggle he spent in
preparing? Do you ever think of the times that orator tried to
mortified and broken-hearted? Thru it all there came the
When you hear the musician and note the ease and grace of the
performance, do you think of the years of struggle and overcoming
necessary to produce that finish and grace? That is the story of
the actor, the author and every other one of attainment.
Do you note that the tropics, the countries with the balmiest
climates, produce the weakest peoples? Do you note that the
The tropics are the geographical Gussielands.
blessings in disguise. People go to the devil with full pockets;
they turn to God when hunger hits them. "Is not this Babylon that
I have builded?" says the Belshazzar of material prosperity as he
drinks to his gods. Then must come the Needful and Needless Knocks
handwriting upon the wall to save him.
You have to shoot many men's eyes out before they can see. You have
to crack their heads before they can think, knock them down before
they can stand, break their hearts before they can sing, and
bankrupt them before they can be rich.
Do you remember that they had to lock John Bunyan in Bedford jail
that some of us will have to go to jail to do our best work.
the world will always hear? Do you remember that one author became
blind before writing "Paradise Lost" the world will always read?
Do you remember that Saul of Tarsus would have never been
remembered had he lived the life of luxury planned for him? He had
to be blinded before he could see the way to real success. He had
to be scourged and fettered to become the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Do you not see all around you that success is ever the phoenix
rising from the ashes of defeat?
Then, children, when you stand in the row of graduates on
For that is the only way to say, "Success to you!"
Go Up the Mountain
O UNIVERSITY OF HARD KNOCKS, we learn to love you more with each
that you are saving us from ourselves. But O, how most of us must
I know no better way to close this lecture than to tell you of a
tho twelve years of my life had dropped out of it, and had been
the wounded dog. I wanted to crawl away to lick my wounds.
It is a wonderful experience to climb Mount Lowe. The tourists go
up half a mile into Rubio Canyon, to the engineering miracle, the
triangular car that hoists them out of the hungry chasm thirty-five
hundred feet up the side of a granite cliff, to the top of Echo Mountain.
Here they find that Echo Mountain is but a shelf on the side of
Mount Lowe. Here they take an electric car that winds five miles on
towards the sky. There is hardly a straight rail in the track.
Every minute a new thrill, and no two thrills alike. Five miles of
There are places where the tourist wants to grasp his seat and
lift. There is a wooden shelf nailed to the side of the perpendicular
rockwall where his life depends upon the honesty of the man who drove
the nails. He may wonder if the man was working by the day or by the job!
He looks over the edge of the shelf downward, and then turns to the other
side to look at the face of the cliff they are hugging, and discovers
there is no place to resign!
The car is five thousand feet high where it stops on that last shelf,
Alpine Tavern. One cannot ride farther upward. This is not the summit,
but just where science surrenders. There is a little trail that winds
upward from Alpine Tavern to the summit. It is three miles long
To go up that last eleven hundred feet and stand upon the flat rock
at the summit of Mount Lowe is to get a picture so wonderful it
feet, more than a mile, into the orange belt of Southern California.
It spreads out below in one great mosaic of turquoise and amber
and emerald, where the miles seem like inches, and where his
field-glass sweeps one panoramic picture of a hundred miles or more.
Just below is Pasadena and Los Angeles. To the westward perhaps
forty miles is the blue stretch of the Pacific Ocean, on westward
the faint outlines of Catalina Islands. The ocean seems so close
distances. You throw the pebble and it falls upon your toes!
And Mount Lowe is but a shelf on the side of the higher Sierras.
The granite mountains rise higher to the northward, and to the east
This is one of the workshops of the infinite!
All alone I scrambled up that three-mile trail to the summit. All
alone I stood upon the flat rock at the summit and looked down into
the swimming distances. I did not know why I had struggled up into
I saw clouds down in the valley below me. I had never before looked
down upon clouds. I thought of the cloud that had covered me in the
valley below, and dully watched the clouds spread wider and blacker.
Afterwhile the valley was all hidden by the clouds. I knew rain
must be falling down there. The people must be saying, "The sun
doesn't shine. The sky is all gone." But I saw the truth--the sun
was shining. The sky was in place. A cloud had covered down over
that first mile. The sun was shining upon me, the sky was all blue
over me, and there were millions of miles of sunshine above me. I
could see all this because I had gone above the valley. I could see
above the clouds.
the clouds of trouble today, BUT THE SUN IS SHINING!
I must go on up the mountain to see it.
The years have been passing, the stormclouds have many times hidden
my sun. But I have always found the sun shining above them. No
matter how black and sunless today, when I have struggled on up the
mountain path, I have gotten above the clouds and found the sun
Each day as I go up the mountain I get a larger vision. The miles
that seem so great down in the valley, seem so small as I look down
upon them from higher up. Each day as I look back I see more
clearly the plan of a human life. The rocks, the curves and the
struggles fit into a divine engineering plan to soften the
steepness of the ascent. The bumps are lifts. The things that seem
so important down in the smudgy, stormswept valley, seem so
unimportant as we go higher up the mountain to more important
Today I look back to the bump that sent me up Mount Lowe. I did not
see how I could live past that bump. The years have passed and I now
know it was one of the greatest blessings of my life. It closed one
gate, but it opened another gate to a better pathway up the mountain.
Late that day I was clambering down the side of Mount Lowe. Down in
the valley below me I saw shadows. Then I looked over into the
southwest and I could see the sun going down. I could see him sink
lower and lower until his red lips kissed the cheek of the Pacific.
The glory of the sunset filled sea and sky with flames of gold and
fountains of rainbows. Such a sunset from the mountain-side is a
promise of heaven.
The shadows of sunset widened over the valley. Presently all the
valley was black with the shadow. It was night down there. The
people were saying, "The sun doesn't shine." But it was not night
where I stood. I was farther up the mountain. I turned and looked
up to the summit. The beams of the setting sun were yet gilding
Mount Lowe's summit. It was night down in the valley, but it was
day on the mountain top!
Child of humanity, are you in the storm? Go on upward. Are you in
the night? Go on upward.
For the peace and the light are always above the storm and the
I am going on upward. Take my hand and let us go together. Mount Lowe
showed the way that dark day. There I heard the "sermons in stones."
Some day my night will come. It will spread over all this valley of
material things where the storms have raged.
But I shall be on the mountain top. I shall look down upon the
night, as I am learning to climb and look down upon the storms. I
shall be in the new day of the mountain-top, forever above the night.
I shall find this mountain-top just another shelf on the side of
the Mountain of Infinite Unfolding. I shall have risen perhaps only
the first mile. I shall have millions of miles yet to rise.
This will be another Commencement Day and Master's Degree. Infinite
the number on up. "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have
entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared
for them that love Him."
ANOTHER BEGINNING
The Big Business of Life
This book proves that the real big business is that of getting our
Judge Ben B. Lindsey, the kids' Judge, says:
ought to buy them by the gross and send them to their friends."
Dr. J. G. Crabbe, President of the State Teachers College,
"The Big Business of Life is a real joy to read. It is big and
where. It is truly `A Book of Rejoicing'."
The Augsberg Teacher, a Magazine for Teachers, says:
"In The Big Business of Life we have the practical philosophy
mortals take their work too seriously, and that to them it is a
find it when we are bending to our duties is to possess the
secret of living to the full. And happiness is to be sought
within, and not among the things that lie at our feet. The
a smile, and beneath each one is a bit of wisdom it would do us
a world of good to learn. It recalls the saying of the wise man
Many who have read The Big Business of Life
write us that they think it is even better than "The
University of Hard Knocks," which, they add, is
The Best is Yet to Come
The Salvation of a Sucker
These booklets by Ralph Parlette are short stories adapted from
chapters in "The University of Hard Knocks."
John C. Carroll, President of the Hyde Park State Bank of Chicago,
bought 1000 copies of the booklet "It's Up to You!" and of it he
says. "Parlette's Beans and Nuts is just as good as the Message to
Garcia and will be handed around just us much. I have handed the book
own vice president, and they all want another copy to send to some
friend. I would rather be author of it than president of the bank."
Employers in every line of business are buying quantities of "It's
Up to You!" for their workers.
William Jennings Bryan says of the booklet "Go On South": "It is
one of the great stories of the day."
Charles Grilk of Davenport, says: "My two children and I read the
Mississippi River story together and we were thoroly delighted."
Instruct us to send one of these booklets to your friends. It will
delight them more than any small present you can make.
End of Project Gutenberg etext of "The University of Hard Knocks"
20050114
the renowned Hindu leader, Sri Sri Sri Tiruchi Mahaswamigal, attained
passed away while undergoing dialysis at the hospital, for
returned to the ashram in the evening. The schedule of ceremonies has
not yet been received by HPI. Sri Jayendra Puri Swami is the
Mahaswamigal's designated successor and was officially installed as
head of Kailasa Ashrama in ceremonies in early 2004.
The respected swami traveled widely, and in 1990 visited Kauai's Hindu
Monastery, home of HPI. He and Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami were
His Holiness Trichiswami, one of the foremost spiritual leaders of our
time, was the recipient of the Hindu Rennaissance Award 2003 given by
Hinduism Today honoring him as "Hindu of the Year." In announcing that
award, the following article recounting Swamiji's life story was
published in the October, 2003, issue of Hinduism Today and is
A photo of Mahaswamigal is available
Sri Sri Sri Tiruchi Mahaswamigal, Trainer and Guide of Monastics and
Forty-three years ago when Bangalore, the serene garden city, was not
companies, a small hermitage began on the outskirts of the city. Tucked
away in the quiet, remote suburbs off Mysore Road was Kailasa Ashrama
Maha Samasthanam, built in 1960. In 1978 the Sri Rajarajeshwari temple
days. Public transport was sparse. Unmindful of all these hassles, the
faithful regularly visited. Prayers were answered. Some experienced the
Mother beckoning. Word spread about the power of Goddess Rajarajeswari
and the ashram's founder, Sri Jagadguru Sri Sivarathnapuri
to honor him with the Hindu Renaissance Award as Hindu of the Year
Swamiji has trained dozens of sannyasins, Hindu monks, who are now in
charge of ashrams of their own, and a large number of priests who serve
in temples all over the world. He is held in such respect in India that
situations. He is a living embodiment of the Goddess's grace, with even
inspired devotees in many countries during his tours of North America
Currently, devotees daily throng the temple and Kailasa Ashrama, the
abode of Sri Tiruchi Mahaswamigal. A huge township now surrounds the
to various parts of the city by public transport, real estate values in
the township have skyrocketed.
Sri Tiruchi Mahaswamigal has a large following of devotees from all
over the country and abroad. He is well known throughout South India as
savant is an ocean of Divinity, knowledge and wisdom. Being in his
presence brings peace and serenity to the mind. He infuses confidence.
mastery over the Vedas, Upanishads and the scriptures. A complete
portrayal is given in his biography, Life and Work of Sri Sivaratnapuri
Last year, rains failed in Karnataka. The state was under pressure to
release reservoir water to its neighbor and there was political unrest.
The chief minister, S. M. Krishna, set out on a padayatra (pilgrimage
on foot) to propitiate the rain Gods. He started his journey after
performing worship at the Rajarajeshwari temple and seeking the
blessings of Tiruchi Mahaswamigalji. The very next day heavy rains
drenched the state.
One ashram devotee, a jeweler, told me, "I've been visiting the ashram
for the last 28 years. A lot of good things have come to us with the
blessings of Swamiji. On many occasions we have escaped dangers, and we
bus came menacingly from behind me, and there was a major accident. I
survived only because of His blessings."
Another confided, "I have been associated with Swamiji for over 45
years, even before he came and settled in Bangalore. I visit the ashram
monthly and never do anything without his advice. He can foresee the
He has only one thought and one goal--serving Mother Rajarajeshwari."
religious training. A steady stream of proficient priests who graduated
from here have become renunciate monks, noted for their training and
have joined other ashrams. Prominent among these are Jagadguru Sri Sri
Sri Balagangadharanatha Swami of Adi Chunchanagiri Mutt in Belur, Swami
Sivananda Bharati, head of Siddharudanatha Math, and Kumaraswamy, head
of the Thiruchi Swami Math. Kailasa Ashrama, staffed by Swamiji's monks
and administrated by Sri Jayendra Puri Swami, has spawned a number of
near the Devi temple, "By the grace of the Divine Mother and Lord
Swamiji went to Mount Kailash. There, he had a vision of Goddesses
establish an ashram there." While traveling south, Swamiji had a divine
inspiration to start the ashram and temple near Bangalore.
Inside, the massive Rajarajeswari Temple complex, with its new Sri
Yantra Shrine, spans a full six city blocks. To the left, a three-story
of bright red and yellow flowers where cool shade trees shelter three
elite guest apartments. Just inside the second gate of the twelve-acre
yards, the impressive Devi Hall, the main monastery building, towers up
four stories, a pastel pink jewel in the tropical sun. To the right of
fresh paint. To the left, Trichyswami's ever-so-simple personal
quarters stand, partially hidden in the foliage of trees and bright
flowers. It is in the front room of this unimposing dwelling that the
swami greets guests, who sit on the cool stone floor as he gives
darshan from a carved wooden chair, with pictures of many saints and
sages on the walls above. Behind Devi Hall, a large cow shed, expansive
within these gardens, Sanskrit pundits meet every day with youthful
"Kuteeram, " Sri Swamiji is a man of few words. In this room, perhaps
15 by 35 feet, he has met people from all walks of life. He dislikes
indulging in worldly affairs and refuses to comment on matters of
current developments. Yet politicians, bureaucrats, professionals and
layman alike have immense faith in him. He is the benign reliever of
their troubles. Every morning, if his health permits, Swamiji tours the
grounds, taking interest in the minutest detail. Around the ashram has
of questions posed by Hinduism Today:
Swamiji: Anusthana, worship, brings ekagratha, or concentration, just
can develop concentration and meditation, whether he is a yogi or not.
The simplest method is prayer.
cannot be achieved at home, because of domestic distractions. Domestic
environs do not provide the right atmosphere for worship. Vibrations
are very strong in a temple because of the form, the place and the
congregational get-together. At a temple, inspiration is more, and
When one involves in praising the Supreme and does not indulge in
for celebration for the less fortunate, like the handicapped and the
poor, who cannot afford it otherwise. They can participate where there
is no discrimination between the rich and the poor. A temple provides
HT: What is Swami's advice for the young people of today?
can see it in the ashram, everyone has to work. In earlier days, one
person had to stand at the main entrance of the ashram and shout three
times, "There is no place for lazy people in Kailash Ashram." Total
HT: We see a breakdown of the family, especially both parents working.
they cannot live on the husband's salary alone?
Swamiji: If we go on increasing our wants, money will be necessary. The
more money is necessary, the feeling that another person will have to
work will come. If wants are reduced, automatically the earning will be
sufficient. The mother aspect of the house can be saved. This will keep
the balance in the family. The root of the problem is materialism.
HT: What is the most important thing in keeping a happy marriage?
Swamiji: Reducing wants. Collectively, when all the people in the
family understand the value of money and the value of happiness, they
will reduce their wants and automatically create a cordial atmosphere
in the family.
HT: Can Swami say a few words about his work abroad, outside of India?
Hinduism is concerned, it is an ocean where one can get all the
benefits of having a bath in all the rivers of the world by having a
HT: Please speak to the Hindu world about the importance of an order
of monks in the perpetuation of dharma.
Swamiji: An order of monks has to be according to the traditions and
customs of the community. The main intention in propagating dharma is
to propagate virtuous living. We should consider the individual way of
life. One aspect of dharma to one person may not be applicable to the
other. It has to be coupled with the way of life. Disciples of Kailasa
Ashrama have been made heads of institutions of particular communities
so that they may propagate dharma more effectively in their own way.
experiments to develop medical cures. What are the moral implications?
inevitable and not go out of the way to protect this frail body, which
is definitely perishable. We have to allow it to go according to the
dictates of nature and find happiness there. I am totally against this
research. It is a waste of money and effort. It increases population.
We will do great service to nature in allowing it to maintain the
Swamiji: From childhood I had listened so much to the saints, I was
convinced that loka seva, service to humanity, is the greatest purpose
of life. That is why I took sannyas. If I was a grihastha (married
of hot water and cannot hold it any longer, we drop it without worrying
what happens to the pot. The fingers have to be protected. Similarly, I
ripe fruit does not think of the tree when it drops down.
HT: More and more children are unhesitatingly sending their parents to
Swamiji: In olden days, when the son came of age, the parents would
hand over the responsibilities and go to the forest--vanaprastha
pilgrimage, handing over responsibility to the son once he came of age.
However, today parents do neither. Even when the son is old enough to
shoulder responsibility, they go on interfering, demand attention and
make a nuisance of themselves. This is one aspect. More important is
send their parents away in old age. There are so many youngsters taking
good care of their old parents. It's all in the way we inculcate the
Rutger Kortenhorst
He is also known as Mrutyunjayah. He is an active member of School of Practical Philosophy and Economic Sciences.
He took a year off and stayed in 'Aksharam', Veda Vijnana Gurukulam, Aurobindo Ashram etc. to learn Samskritam, Vedanta etc.
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, we are going to spend an hour together looking at the topic ‘Why does my child do Sanskrit in John Scottus?’ My bet is that at the end of the hour you will all have come to the conclusion that your children are indeed fortunate that this extraordinary subject is part of their curriculum.
Firstly, let us look at Why Sanskrit for my child? We are the only school in Ireland doing this language, so this will need some explaining. There are another 8 JSS-type schools around the world that have made the same decision to include Sanskrit in their curriculum (they are all off-shoots from the School of Philosophy).
Secondly, how is Sanskrit taught? You may have noticed your son or daughter singing Sanskrit grammar songs in the back of the car just for the fun of it on the way home from school. I’ll spend some time telling you HOW we approach teaching Sanskrit now since my year in India.
But first of all: WHY Sanskrit? To answer that we need to look at the qualities of Sanskrit. Sanskrit stands out above all other languages for its beauty of sound, precision in pronunciation and reliability as well as thoroughness in every aspect of its structure. This is why it has never fundamentally changed unlike all other languages. It has had no need to change being the most perfect language of Mankind.
If we consider Shakespeare’s English, we realize how different and therefore difficult for us his English language was although it is just English from less than 500 years ago. We struggle with the meaning of Shakespeare’s English or that of the King James Bible. Go back a bit further and we don’t have a clue about the English from the time of Chaucer’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ from around 700 AD. We cannot even call this English anymore and now rightly call it Anglo-Saxon. So English hadn’t even been born! All languages keep changing beyond recognition. They change because they are defective. The changes are in fact corruptions. They are born and die after seven or eight hundred years –about the lifetime of a Giant Redwood Tree- because after so much corruption they have no life left in them. Surprisingly there is one language in the world that does not have this short lifespan. Sanskrit is the only exception. It is a never-dying constant. The reason for the constancy in Sanskrit is that it is completely structured and thought out. There is not a word that has been left out in its grammar or etymology, which means every word can be traced back to where it came from originally. This does not mean there is no room for new words either. Just as in English we use older concepts from Greek and Latin to express modern inventions like a television: ‘tele [far] – vision [seeing]’ or ‘compute –er’. Sanskrit in fact specializes in making up compound words from smaller words and parts. The word ‘Sams - krita’ itself means ‘completely – made’.
So what advantages are there to a fundamentally unchanging language? What is advantageous about an unchanging friend, say? Are they reliable? What happens if you look at a text in Sanskrit from thousands of years ago?
The exceptional features of Sanskrit have been recognised for a few centuries all over the world, so you will find universities from many countries having a Sanskrit faculty. Whether you go to Hawai, Cambridge or Harvard and even Trinity College Dublin has a seat for Sanskrit –although it is vacant at present. May be one of your children will in time fill this position again?
Although India has been its custodian, Sanskrit has had universal appeal for centuries. The wisdom carried by this language appeals to the West as we can see from Yoga and Ayurvedic Medicine as well as meditation techniques, and practical philosophies like Buddhism and most of what we use in the School of Philosophy. It supports, expands and enlightens rather than conflicts withlocal traditions and religions.
The precision of Sanskrit stems from the unparalleled detail on how the actual sounds of the alphabet are structured and defined. The sounds have a particular place in the mouth, nose and throat that can be defined and will never change. This is why in Sanskrit the letters are called the ‘Indestructibles’ [aksharáni]. Sanskrit is the only language that has consciously laid out its sounds from first principles. So the five mouth-positions for all Indestructibles [letters] are defined and with a few clearly described mental and physical efforts all are systematically planned: [point out chart]
Soft
Roof of
the mouth
soft
After this description, what structure can we find in a, b, c, d, e, f , g...? There isn’t any, except perhaps that it starts with ‘a’, and goes downhill from there ...
Then there is the sheer beauty of the Sanskrit script as we learn it today. [Some examples on the board]
You may well say: ‘Fine, but so why should my son or daughter have yet another subject and another script to learn in their already busy school-day?’ In what way will he or she benefit from the study of Sanskrit in 2010 in the Western world?
The qualities of Sanskrit will become the qualities of your child- that is the mind and heart of your child will become beautiful, precise and reliable.
Sanskrit automatically teaches your child and anybody else studying it to pay FINE attention due to its uncanny precision. When the precision is there the experience is, that it feels uplifting. It makes you happy. It is not difficult even for a beginner to experience this. All you have to do is fine-tune your attention and like music you are drawn in and uplifted. This precision of attention serves all subjects, areas and activities of life both while in school and for the rest of life. This will give your child a competitive advantage over any other children. They will be able to attend more fully, easily and naturally. Thus in terms of relationships, work, sport– in fact all aspects of life, they will perform better and gain more satisfaction. Whatever you attend to fully, you excel in and you enjoy more.
By studying Sanskrit, other languages can be learnt more easily; this being the language all others borrow from fractionally. The Sanskrit grammar is reflected in part in Irish or Greek, Latin or English. They all have a part of the complete Sanskrit grammar. Some being more developed than others, but always only a part of the Sanskrit grammar, which is complete in itself.
What Sanskrit teaches us that there is a language that is ordered, following laws unfailingly and as they are applied your child gets uplifted, not only when they grow up, but as they are saying it! This means they get an unusual but precise, definite and clear insight into language while they are enjoying themselves.
They learn to speak well, starting from Sanskrit, the mother language of all languages. Those who speak well run the world. Barack Obama makes a difference because he can speak well. Mahatma Gandhi could move huge crowds with well-balanced words. Mother Theresa could express herself with simple words which uplift us even now. The language of the great Master Teachers of mankind from times past is all we have got after centuries and millennia, but they make all the difference. We can enter the remarkable mind of Plato through his words. If your daughter or son can express themselves well through conscious language they will be the leaders of the next generation.
Sanskrit has the most comprehensive writings in the world expressed through the Vedas and the Gítá. The Upanishads –translated by William Butler Yeats have given people from all over the world an insight into universal religious feelings for more than one century now. To know these well expressed simple words of wisdom in the original is better than dealing with copies or translations as copies are always inferior to originals. We really need clear knowledge on universal religion in an age faced with remarkable levels of religious bigotry and terrorism arising from poorly understood and half-baked religious ideas.
Vivekananda, a great spiritual leader from India revered by all in the World Religious Conference of 1880 said:
You can put a mass of knowledge into the world, but that will not do it much good. There must come some culture into the blood. We all know in modern times of nations which have masses of knowledge, but what of them? They are like tigers; they are like savages, because culture is not there. Knowledge is only skin-deep, as civilization is, and a little scratch brings out the old savage. Such things happen; this is the danger. Teach the masses in the vernaculars, give them ideas; they will get information, but something more is necessary; give them culture.
Sanskrit can help your child to express universal, harmonious and simple truths better. As a result you will really have done your duty as a parent and the world will reap the benefits in a more humane, harmonious and united society. Sanskrit can do this as it is the only language that is based in knowledge all the way. Nothing is left to chance.
Just think for the moment how confusing it is for a child to learn to say ‘rough’ , but ‘dough’. And why does the ‘o’ in ‘woman’ sound like an ‘e’ in ‘women’? How come the ‘ci’ in ‘special’ is different from the ‘ci’ in ‘cinema’? Teachers may well say ‘Just learn it’ as there is no logical explanation, but it only demonstrates to a child that it is all a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. What else does this randomness in the fundamental building-blocks of language teach a child about the world? That it’s just a confusing, random chance-event? How can this give anyone any confidence?
Now go to a language where everything is following rules. Where nothing is left to chance from the humble origin of a letter to the most sophisticated philosophical idea. How will that child meet the world? Surely with confidence, clarity and the ability to express itself?
I have seen myself and others growing in such qualities, because of our contact with Sanskrit. I have just spent a year in India. Though it felt a bit like camping in a tent for a year, it was well worth it. For many years, we taught Sanskrit like zealots i.e. with high levels of enthusiasm and low levels of understanding, to both adults in the School of Philosophy and children in John Scottus School. We did not perhaps inspire a lot of our students and may have put a number of them off the study of Sanskrit. It felt to me like we needed to go to the source. Sanskrit teachers worth their salt need to live with people whose daily means of communication is in Sanskrit. I had already spent three summers near Bangalore doing just that and becoming less of an amateur, but it really needed a more thorough study. So I moved into a traditional gurukulam for the year. This meant living on campus, eating lots of rice and putting up with a few power-cuts and water shortages, but by December 2009, I made up my mind that I would step down as vice-principal of the Senior School and dedicate myself to Sanskrit for the rest of my teaching life. It felt like a promotion to me as quite a few could be vice-principal but right now which other teacher could forge ahead in Sanskrit in Ireland? [Hopefully this will change before I pop off to the next world.] With Sanskrit I’m expecting my mind to improve with age even if my body slows down a little. Sanskrit is often compared to the full-time teacher, who is there for you 24/7 whereas the other languages are more like part-timers. The effects of studying Sanskrit on me have been first and foremost a realistic confidence. Secondly, it meant I had to become more precise and speak weighing my words more carefully. It also taught me to express myself with less waffle and therefore speak more briefly. My power of attention and retention has undoubtedly increased.
Now, let me explain for a few minutes, HOW Sanskrit is taught. To my surprise it is not taught well in most places in India. Pupils have to learn it from when they are around age 9 to 11 and then they give it up, because it is taught so badly! Only a few die-hards stick with it, in time teaching the same old endings endlessly to the next generation. This is partly due to India having adopted a craving to copy the West and their tradition having been systematically rooted out by colonialism.
For learning grammar and the wisdom of the East, I was well-placed in a traditional gurukulam, but for spoken Sanskrit I felt a modern approach was missing.
Then I found a teacher from the International School belonging to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. His name is Narendra. He has developed a novel, inspiring and light method to teach grammar, which doesn’t feel like you do any grammar at all. At the same time it isn’t diluted for beginners so you don’t end up with partial knowledge. I also foolowed a few Sanskrit Conversation camps, which all brought about more familiarity.
Narendra says he owes his method to Sri Aurobindo and his companion ‘the Mother’ who inspired him to come up with the course we now follow in Dublin. This is one of the many things ‘the Mother’ said to inspire him:“Teach logically. Your method should be most natural, efficient and stimulating to the mind. It should carry one forward at a great pace. You need not cling there to any past or present manner of teaching.”
This is how I would summarize the principles for teaching Sanskrit as we carry it out at present:
1. Language learning is not for academics as everyone learns to speak a language from an early age before they can read and write and know what an academic is. So why insist in teaching Sanskrit academically?
2. The writing script is not the most fundamental thing to be taught. A language is firstly made of its sounds, words and spoken sentences. [The script we use -though very beautiful- is only a few hundred years old.]
4. Understanding works better than memorisation in this Age. Learning by heart should only take up 10 % of the mental work, rather than the 90 % rote learning in Sanskrit up to the recent present.
5. Don’t teach words and endings in isolation; teach them in the context of a sentence as the sentence is the smallest meaningful unit in language.
7. Do not teach grammatical terms. Just as we don’t need to know about the carburettor, when we learn to drive a car.
8. The course should be finished in two years by an average student according to Narendra. This may be a little optimistic given that we are a little out of the loop not living in India, which is still Sanskrit’s custodian. At present I would say it is going to be a three-year course.
9. Language learning must be playful. Use drama, song, computer games and other tricks to make learning enjoyable.
We have started on this course since September and it has certainly put a smile on our pupils’ faces, which makes a pleasant change. I now feel totally confident that we are providing your children with a thorough, structured and enjoyable course. Our students should be well prepared for the International Sanskrit Cambridge exam by the time they finish –age 14/15- at the end of second year. We will also teach them some of the timeless wisdom enshrined in various verses. At present we are teaching them:
“All that lives is full of the Lord. Claim nothing; enjoy! Do not covet His property”- in the original of course.
The future. Let us look at the 500 – year cycle of a Renaissance. The last European Renaissance developed three subjects: Art, Music and Science to shape the world we live in today. It had its beginning in Florence. The great Humanist Marsilio Ficino made Plato available to the masses by translating it from Greek to Latin. We live in exciting times and may well be at the beginning of a new Renaissance. It also will be based on three new subjects: Some say that these will be Economics, Law and Language.
Language has to become more universal now as we can connect with each other globally within seconds. NASA America’s Space Program is actively looking at Sanskrit in relation to I.T. and artificial intelligence.
It can describe all aspects of human life from the most abstract philosophical to the latest scientific discoveries, hinting at further developments.
Sanskrit and computers are a perfect fit. The precision play of Sanskrit with computer tools will awaken the capacity in human beings to utilize their innate higher mental faculty with a momentum that would inevitably transform the mind. In fact, the mere learning of Sanskrit by large numbers of people in itself represents a quantum leap in consciousness, not to mention the rich endowment it will provide in the arena of future communication. NASA, California
After many thousands of years, Sanskrit still lives with a vitality that can breathe life, restore unity and inspire peace on our tired and troubled planet. It is a sacred gift, an opportunity. The future could be very bright.
You may well have a few questions at this stage after which I would like to introduce you to a plant in the audience. A parent turned into a blazing ball of enthusiasm over Sanskrit grammar: John Doran. I would like him to wrap up.
I’ll give NASA’s Rick Briggs the last word from me:
One thing is certain; Sanskrit will only become the planetary language when it is taught in a way which is exiting and enjoyable. Furthermore it must address individual learning inhibitions with clarity and compassion in a setting which encourages everyone to step forth, take risks, make mistakes and learn.
LifeWithoutPrinciple
AT A LYCEUM, not long since, I felt that the lecturer had chosen a theme too foreign to himself, and so failed to interest me as much as he might have done. He described things not in or near to his heart, but toward his extremities and superficies. There was, in this sense, no truly central or centralizing thought in the lecture. I would have had him deal with his privatest experience, as the poet does. The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. I am surprised, as well as delighted, when this happens, it is such a rare use he would make of me, as if he were acquainted with the tool. Commonly, if men want anything of me, it is only to know how many acres I make of their land- since I am a surveyor- or, at most, what trivial news I have burdened myself with. They never will go to law for my meat; they prefer the shell. A man once came a considerable distance to ask me to lecture on Slavery; but on conversing with him, I found that he and his clique expected seven eighths of the lecture to be theirs, and only one eighth mine; so I declined. I take it for granted, when I am invited to lecture anywhere- for I have had a little experience in that business- that there is a desire to hear what I think on some subject, though I may be the greatest fool in the country- and not that I should say pleasant things merely, or such as the audience will assent to; and I resolve, accordingly, that I will give them a strong dose of myself. They have sent for me, and engaged to pay for me, and I am determined that they shall have me, though I bore them beyond all precedent.
So now I would say something similar to you, my readers. Since you are my readers, and I have not been much of a traveller, I will not talk about people a thousand miles off, but come as near home as I can. As the time is short, I will leave out all the flattery, and retain all the criticism.
Let us consider the way in which we spend our lives.
This world is a place of business. What an infinite bustle! I am awaked almost every night by the panting of the locomotive. It interrupts my dreams. There is no sabbath. It would be glorious to see mankind at leisure for once. It is nothing but work, work, work. I cannot easily buy a blank-book to write thoughts in; they are commonly ruled for dollars and cents. An Irishman, seeing me making a minute in the fields, took it for granted that I was calculating my wages. If a man was tossed out of a window when an infant, and so made a cripple for life, or seared out of his wits by the Indians, it is regretted chiefly because he was thus incapacitated for business! I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.
There is a coarse and boisterous money-making fellow in the outskirts of our town, who is going to build a bank-wall under the hill along the edge of his meadow. The powers have put this into his head to keep him out of mischief, and he wishes me to spend three weeks digging there with him. The result will be that he will perhaps get some more money to board, and leave for his heirs to spend foolishly. If I do this, most will commend me as an industrious and hard-working man; but if I choose to devote myself to certain labors which yield more real profit, though but little money, they may be inclined to look on me as an idler. Nevertheless, as I do not need the police of meaningless labor to regulate me, and do not see anything absolutely praiseworthy in this fellow's undertaking any more than in many an enterprise of our own or foreign governments, however amusing it may be to him or them, I prefer to finish my education at a different school.
If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!
Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now. For instance: just after sunrise, one summer morning, I noticed one of my neighbors walking beside his team, which was slowly drawing a heavy hewn stone swung under the axle, surrounded by an atmosphere of industry- his day's work begun- his brow commenced to sweat- a reproach to all sluggards and idlers- pausing abreast the shoulders of his oxen, and half turning round with a flourish of his merciful whip, while they gained their length on him. And I thought, Such is the labor which the American Congress exists to protect- honest, manly toil- honest as the day is long- that makes his bread taste sweet, and keeps society sweet- which all men respect and have consecrated; one of the sacred band, doing the needful but irksome drudgery. Indeed, I felt a slight reproach, because I observed this from a window, and was not abroad and stirring about a similar business. The day went by, and at evening I passed the yard of another neighbor, who keeps many servants, and spends much money foolishly, while he adds nothing to the common stock, and there I saw the stone of the morning lying beside a whimsical structure intended to adorn this Lord Timothy Dexter's premises, and the dignity forthwith departed from the teamster's labor, in my eyes. In my opinion, the sun was made to light worthier toil than this. I may add that his employer has since run off, in debt to a good part of the town, and, after passing through Chancery, has settled somewhere else, there to become once more a patron of the arts.
The ways by which you may get money almost without exception lead downward. To have done anything by which you earned money merely is to have been truly idle or worse. If the laborer gets no more than the wages which his employer pays him, he is cheated, he cheats himself. If you would get money as a writer or lecturer, you must be popular, which is to go down perpendicularly. Those services which the community will most readily pay for, it is most disagreeable to render. You are paid for being something less than a man. The State does not commonly reward a genius any more wisely. Even the poet laureate would rather not have to celebrate the accidents of royalty. He must be bribed with a pipe of wine; and perhaps another poet is called away from his muse to gauge that very pipe. As for my own business, even that kind of surveying which I could do with most satisfaction my employers do not want. They would prefer that I should do my work coarsely and not too well, ay, not well enough. When I observe that there are different ways of surveying, my employer commonly asks which will give him the most land, not which is most correct. I once invented a rule for measuring cord-wood, and tried to introduce it in Boston; but the measurer there told me that the sellers did not wish to have their wood measured correctly- that he was already too accurate for them, and therefore they commonly got their wood measured in Charlestown before crossing the bridge.
The aim of the laborer should be, not to get his living, to get "a good job," but to perform well a certain work; and, even in a pecuniary sense, it would be economy for a town to pay its laborers so well that they would not feel that they were working for low ends, as for a livelihood merely, but for scientific, or even moral ends. Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.
It is remarkable that there are few men so well employed, so much to their minds, but that a little money or fame would commonly buy them off from their present pursuit. I see advertisements for active young men, as if activity were the whole of a young man's capital. Yet I have been surprised when one has with confidence proposed to me, a grown man, to embark in some enterprise of his, as if I had absolutely nothing to do, my life having been a complete failure hitherto. What a doubtful compliment this to pay me! As if he had met me half-way across the ocean beating up against the wind, but bound nowhere, and proposed to me to go along with him! If I did, what do you think the underwriters would say? No, no! I am not without employment at this stage of the voyage. To tell the truth, I saw an advertisement for able-bodied seamen, when I was a boy, sauntering in my native port, and as soon as I came of age I embarked.
The community has no bribe that will tempt a wise man. You may raise money enough to tunnel a mountain, but you cannot raise money enough to hire a man who is minding his own business. An efficient and valuable man does what he can, whether the community pay him for it or not. The inefficient offer their inefficiency to the highest bidder, and are forever expecting to be put into office. One would suppose that they were rarely disappointed.
Perhaps I am more than usually jealous with respect to my freedom. I feel that my connection with and obligation to society are still very slight and transient. Those slight labors which afford me a livelihood, and by which it is allowed that I am to some extent serviceable to my contemporaries, are as yet commonly a pleasure to me, and I am not often reminded that they are a necessity. So far I am successful. But I foresee that if my wants should be much increased, the labor required to supply them would become a drudgery. If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure that for me there would be nothing left worth living for. I trust that I shall never thus sell my birthright for a mess of pottage. I wish to suggest that a man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. All great enterprises are self-supporting. The poet, for instance, must sustain his body by his poetry, as a steam planing-mill feeds its boilers with the shavings it makes. You must get your living by loving. But as it is said of the merchants that ninety-seven in a hundred fail, so the life of men generally, tried by this standard, is a failure, and bankruptcy may be surely prophesied.
Merely to come into the world the heir of a fortune is not to be born, but to be still-born, rather. To be supported by the charity of friends, or a government pension- provided you continue to breathe- by whatever fine synonyms you describe these relations, is to go into the almshouse. On Sundays the poor debtor goes to church to take an account of stock, and finds, of course, that his outgoes have been greater than his income. In the Catholic Church, especially, they go into chancery, make a clean confession, give up all, and think to start again. Thus men will lie on their backs, talking about the fall of man, and never make an effort to get up.
As for the comparative demand which men make on life, it is an important difference between two, that the one is satisfied with a level success, that his marks can all be hit by point-blank shots, but the other, however low and unsuccessful his life may be, constantly elevates his aim, though at a very slight angle to the horizon. I should much rather be the last man- though, as the Orientals say, "Greatness doth not approach him who is forever looking down; and all those who are looking high are growing poor."
It is remarkable that there is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting a living; how to make getting a living not merely holiest and honorable, but altogether inviting and glorious; for if getting a living is not so, then living is not. One would think, from looking at literature, that this question had never disturbed a solitary individual's musings. Is it that men are too much disgusted with their experience to speak of it? The lesson of value which money teaches, which the Author of the Universe has taken so much pains to teach us, we are inclined to skip altogether. As for the means of living, it is wonderful how indifferent men of all classes are about it, even reformers, so called- whether they inherit, or earn, or steal it. I think that Society has done nothing for us in this respect, or at least has undone what she has done. Cold and hunger seem more friendly to my nature than those methods which men have adopted and advise to ward them off.
The title wise is, for the most part, falsely applied. How can one be a wise man, if he does not know any better how to live than other men?- if he is only more cunning and intellectually subtle? Does Wisdom work in a tread-mill? or does she teach how to succeed by her example? Is there any such thing as wisdom not applied to life? Is she merely the miller who grinds the finest logic? It is pertinent to ask if Plato got his living in a better way or more successfully than his contemporaries- or did he succumb to the difficulties of life like other men? Did he seem to prevail over some of them merely by indifference, or by assuming grand airs? or find it easier to live, because his aunt remembered him in her will? The ways in which most men get their living, that is, live, are mere makeshifts, and a shirking of the real business of life- chiefly because they do not know, but partly because they do not mean, any better.
The rush to California, for instance, and the attitude, not merely of merchants, but of philosophers and prophets, so called, in relation to it, reflect the greatest disgrace on mankind. That so many are ready to live by luck, and so get the means of commanding the labor of others less lucky, without contributing any value to society! And that is called enterprise! I know of no more startling development of the immorality of trade, and all the common modes of getting a living. The philosophy and poetry and religion of such a mankind are not worth the dust of a puffball. The hog that gets his living by rooting, stirring up the soil so, would be ashamed of such company. If I could command the wealth of all the worlds by lifting my finger, I would not pay such a price for it. Even Mahomet knew that God did not make this world in jest. It makes God to be a moneyed gentleman who scatters a handful of pennies in order to see mankind scramble for them. The world's raffle! A subsistence in the domains of Nature a thing to be raffled for! What a comment, what a satire, on our institutions! The conclusion will be, that mankind will hang itself upon a tree. And have all the precepts in all the Bibles taught men only this? and is the last and most admirable invention of the human race only an improved muck-rake? Is this the ground on which Orientals and Occidentals meet? Did God direct us so to get our living, digging where we never planted- and He would, perchance, reward us with lumps of gold?
God gave the righteous man a certificate entitling him to food and raiment, but the unrighteous man found a facsimile of the same in God's coffers, and appropriated it, and obtained food and raiment like the former. It is one of the most extensive systems of counterfeiting that the world has seen. I did not know that mankind was suffering for want of old. I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.
The gold-digger in the ravines of the mountains is as much a gambler as his fellow in the saloons of San Francisco. What difference does it make whether you shake dirt or shake dice? If you win, society is the loser. The gold-digger is the enemy of the honest laborer, whatever checks and compensations there may be. It is not enough to tell me that you worked hard to get your gold. So does the Devil work hard. The way of transgressors may be hard in many respects. The humblest observer who goes to the mines sees and says that gold-digging is of the character of a lottery; the gold thus obtained is not the same same thing with the wages of honest toil. But, practically, he forgets what he has seen, for he has seen only the fact, not the principle, and goes into trade there, that is, buys a ticket in what commonly proves another lottery, where the fact is not so obvious.
After reading Howitt's account of the Australian gold-diggings one evening, I had in my mind's eye, all night, the numerous valleys, with their streams, all cut up with foul pits, from ten to one hundred feet deep, and half a dozen feet across, as close as they can be dug, and partly filled with water- the locality to which men furiously rush to probe for their fortunes- uncertain where they shall break ground- not knowing but the gold is under their camp itself- sometimes digging one hundred and sixty feet before they strike the vein, or then missing it by a foot- turned into demons, and regardless of each others' rights, in their thirst for riches- whole valleys, for thirty miles, suddenly honeycombed by the pits of the miners, so that even hundreds are drowned in them- standing in water, and covered with mud and clay, they work night and day, dying of exposure and disease. Having read this, and partly forgotten it, I was thinking, accidentally, of my own unsatisfactory life, doing as others do; and with that vision of the diggings still before me, I asked myself why I might not be washing some gold daily, though it were only the finest particles- why I might not sink a shaft down to the gold within me, and work that mine. There is a Ballarat, a Bendigo for you- what though it were a sulky-gully? At any rate, I might pursue some path, however solitary and narrow and crooked, in which I could walk with love and reverence. Wherever a man separates from the multitude, and goes his own way in this mood, there indeed is a fork in the road, though ordinary travellers may see only a gap in the paling. His solitary path across lots will turn out the higher way of the two.
Men rush to California and Australia as if the true gold were to be found in that direction; but that is to go to the very opposite extreme to where it lies. They go prospecting farther and farther away from the true lead, and are most unfortunate when they think themselves most successful. Is not our native soil auriferous? Does not a stream from the golden mountains flow through our native valley? and has not this for more than geologic ages been bringing down the shining particles and forming the nuggets for us? Yet, strange to tell, if a digger steal away, prospecting for this true gold, into the unexplored solitudes around us, there is no danger that any will dog his steps, and endeavor to supplant him. He may claim and undermine the whole valley even, both the cultivated and the uncultivated portions, his whole life long in peace, for no one will ever dispute his claim. They will not mind his cradles or his toms. He is not confined to a claim twelve feet square, as at Ballarat, but may mine anywhere, and wash the whole wide world in his tom.
Howitt says of the man who found the great nugget which weighed twenty-eight pounds, at the Bendigo diggings in Australia: "He soon began to drink; got a horse, and rode all about, generally at full gallop, and, when he met people, called out to inquire if they knew who he was, and then kindly informed them that he was 'the bloody wretch that had found the nugget.' At last he rode full speed against a tree, and nearly knocked his brains out." I think, however, there was no danger of that, for he had already knocked his brains out against the nugget. Howitt adds, "He is a hopelessly ruined man." But he is a type of the class. They are all fast men. Hear some of the names of the places where they dig: "Jackass Flat"- "Sheep's-Head Gully"- "Murderer's Bar," etc. Is there no satire in these names? Let them carry their ill-gotten wealth where they will, I am thinking it will still be "Jackass Flat," if not "Murderer's Bar," where they live.
The last resource of our energy has been the robbing of graveyards on the Isthmus of Darien, an enterprise which appears to be but in its infancy; for, according to late accounts, an act has passed its second reading in the legislature of New Granada, regulating this kind of mining; and a correspondent of the "Tribune" writes: "In the dry season, when the weather will permit of the country being properly prospected, no doubt other rich guacas [that is, graveyards] will be found." To emigrants he says: "do not come before December; take the Isthmus route in preference to the Boca del Toro one; bring no useless baggage, and do not cumber yourself with a tent; but a good pair of blankets will be necessary; a pick, shovel, and axe of good material will be almost all that is required": advice which might have been taken from the "Burker's Guide." And he concludes with this line in Italics and small capitals: "If you are doing well at home, STAY THERE," which may fairly be interpreted to mean, "If you are getting a good living by robbing graveyards at home, stay there."
But why go to California for a text? She is the child of New England, bred at her own school and church.
It is remarkable that among all the preachers there are so few moral teachers. The prophets are employed in excusing the ways of men. Most reverend seniors, the illuminati of the age, tell me, with a gracious, reminiscent smile, betwixt an aspiration and a shudder, not to be too tender about these things- to lump all that, that is, make a lump of gold of it. The highest advice I have heard on these subjects was grovelling. The burden of it was- It is not worth your while to undertake to reform the world in this particular. Do not ask how your bread is buttered; it will make you sick, if you do- and the like. A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting his bread. If within the sophisticated man there is not an unsophisticated one, then he is but one of the devil's angels. As we grow old, we live more coarsely, we relax a little in our disciplines, and, to some extent, cease to obey our finest instincts. But we should be fastidious to the extreme of sanity, disregarding the gibes of those who are more unfortunate than ourselves.
In our science and philosophy, even, there is commonly no true and absolute account of things. The spirit of sect and bigotry has planted its hoof amid the stars. You have only to discuss the problem, whether the stars are inhabited or not, in order to discover it. Why must we daub the heavens as well as the earth? It was an unfortunate discovery that Dr. Kane was a Mason, and that Sir John Franklin was another. But it was a more cruel suggestion that possibly that was the reason why the former went in search of the latter. There is not a popular magazine in this country that would dare to print a child's thought on important subjects without comment. It must be submitted to the D.D.'s. I would it were the chickadee-dees.
You come from attending the funeral of mankind to attend to a natural phenomenon. A little thought is sexton to all the world.
I hardly know an intellectual man, even, who is so broad and truly liberal that you can think aloud in his society. Most with whom you endeavor to talk soon come to a stand against some institution in which they appear to hold stock- that is, some particular, not universal, way of viewing things. They will continually thrust their own low roof, with its narrow skylight, between you and the sky, when it is the unobstructed heavens you would view. Get out of the way with your cobwebs; wash your windows, I say! In some lyceums they tell me that they have voted to exclude the subject of religion. But how do I know what their religion is, and when I am near to or far from it? I have walked into such an arena and done my best to make a clean breast of what religion I have experienced, and the audience never suspected what I was about. The lecture was as harmless as moonshine to them. Whereas, if I had read to them the biography of the greatest scamps in history, they might have thought that I had written the lives of the deacons of their church. Ordinarily, the inquiry is, Where did you come from? or, Where are you going? That was a more pertinent question which I overheard one of my auditors put to another one- "What does he lecture for?" It made me quake in my shoes.
To speak impartially, the best men that I know are not serene, a world in themselves. For the most part, they dwell in forms, and flatter and study effect only more finely than the rest. We select granite for the underpinning of our houses and barns; we build fences of stone; but we do not ourselves rest on an underpinning of granitic truth, the lowest primitive rock. Our sills are rotten. What stuff is the man made of who is not coexistent in our thought with the purest and subtilest truth? I often accuse my finest acquaintances of an immense frivolity; for, while there are manners and compliments we do not meet, we do not teach one another the lessons of honesty and sincerity that the brutes do, or of steadiness and solidity that the rocks do. The fault is commonly mutual, however; for we do not habitually demand any more of each other.
That excitement about Kossuth, consider how characteristic, but superficial, it was!- only another kind of politics or dancing. Men were making speeches to him all over the country, but each expressed only the thought, or the want of thought, of the multitude. No man stood on truth. They were merely banded together, as usual one leaning on another, and all together on nothing; as the Hindoos made the world rest on an elephant, the elephant on a tortoise, and the tortoise on a serpent, and had nothing to put under the serpent. For all fruit of that stir we have the Kossuth hat.
Just so hollow and ineffectual, for the most part, is our ordinary conversation. Surface meets surface. When our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper, or been told by his neighbor; and, for the most part, the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper, or been out to tea, and we have not. In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post-office. You may depend on it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters, proud of his extensive correspondence, has not heard from himself this long while.
I do not know but it is too much to read one newspaper a week. I have tried it recently, and for so long it seems to me that I have not dwelt in my native region. The sun, the clouds, the snow, the trees say not so much to me. You cannot serve two masters. It requires more than a day's devotion to know and to possess the wealth of a day.
We may well be ashamed to tell what things we have read or heard in our day. I did not know why my news should be so trivial- considering what one's dreams and expectations are, why the developments should be so paltry. The news we hear, for the most part, is not news to our genius. It is the stalest repetition. You are often tempted to ask why such stress is laid on a particular experience which you have had- that, after twenty-five years, you should meet Hobbins, Registrar of Deeds, again on the sidewalk. Have you not budged an inch, then? Such is the daily news. Its facts appear to float in the atmosphere, insignificant as the sporules of fungi, and impinge on some neglected thallus, or surface of our minds, which affords a basis for them, and hence a parasitic growth. We should wash ourselves clean of such news. Of what consequence, though our planet explode, if there is no character involved in the explosion? In health we have not the least curiosity about such events. We do not live for idle amusement. I would not run round a corner to see the world blow up.
All summer, and far into the autumn, perchance, you unconsciously went by the newspapers and the news, and now you find it was because the morning and the evening were full of news to you. Your walks were full of incidents. You attended, not to the affairs of Europe, but to your own affairs in Massachusetts fields. If you chance to live and move and have your being in that thin stratum in which the events that make the news transpire- thinner than the paper on which it is printed- then these things will fill the world for you; but if you soar above or dive below that plane, you cannot remember nor be reminded of them. Really to see the sun rise or go down every day, so to relate ourselves to a universal fact, would preserve us sane forever. Nations! What are nations? Tartars, and Huns, and Chinamen! Like insects, they swarm. The historian strives in vain to make them memorable. It is for want of a man that there are so many men. It is individuals that populate the world. Any man thinking may say with the Spirit of Lodin-
And they become ashes before me;-
Calm is my dwelling in the clouds;
Pleasant are the great fields of my rest."
Pray, let us live without being drawn by dogs, Esquimaux-fashion, tearing over hill and dale, and biting each other's ears.
Not without a slight shudder at the danger, I often perceive how near I had come to admitting into my mind the details of some trivial affair- the news of the street; and I am astonished to observe how willing men are to lumber their minds with such rubbish- to permit idle rumors and incidents of the most insignificant kind to intrude on ground which should be sacred to thought. Shall the mind be a public arena, where the affairs of the street and the gossip of the tea-table chiefly are discussed? Or shall it be a quarter of heaven itself- an hypaethral temple, consecrated to the service of the gods? I find it so difficult to dispose of the few facts which to me are significant, that I hesitate to burden my attention with those which are insignificant, which only a divine mind could illustrate. Such is, for the most part, the news in newspapers and conversation. It is important to preserve the mind's chastity in this respect. Think of admitting the details of a single case of the criminal court into our thoughts, to stalk profanely through their very sanctum sanctorum for an hour, ay, for many hours! to make a very bar-room of the mind's inmost apartment, as if for so long the dust of the street had occupied us- the very street itself, with all its travel, its bustle, and filth, had passed through our thoughts' shrine! Would it not be an intellectual and moral suicide? When I have been compelled to sit spectator and auditor in a court-room for some hours, and have seen my neighbors, who were not compelled, stealing in from time to time, and tiptoeing about with washed hands and faces, it has appeared to my mind's eye, that, when they took off their hats, their ears suddenly expanded into vast hoppers for sound, between which even their narrow heads were crowded. Like the vanes of windmills, they caught the broad but shallow stream of sound, which, after a few titillating gyrations in their coggy brains, passed out the other side. I wondered if, when they got home, they were as careful to wash their ears as before their hands and faces. It has seemed to me, at such a time, that the auditors and the witnesses, the jury and the counsel, the judge and the criminal at the bar- if I may presume him guilty before he is convicted- were all equally criminal, and a thunderbolt might be expected to descend and consume them all together.
By all kinds of traps and signboards, threatening the extreme penalty of the divine law, exclude such trespassers from the only ground which can be sacred to you. It is so hard to forget what it is worse than useless to remember! If I am to be a thoroughfare, I prefer that it be of the mountain brooks, the Parnassian streams, and not the town sewers. There is inspiration, that gossip which comes to the ear of the attentive mind from the courts of heaven. There is the profane and stale revelation of the bar-room and the police court. The same ear is fitted to receive both communications. Only the character of the hearer determines to which it shall be open, and to which closed. I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged with triviality. Our very intellect shall be macadamized, as it were- its foundation broken into fragments for the wheels of travel to roll over; and if you would know what will make the most durable pavement, surpassing rolled stones, spruce blocks, and asphaltum, you have only to look into some of our minds which have been subjected to this treatment so long.
If we have thus desecrated ourselves- as who has not?- the remedy will be by wariness and devotion to reconsecrate ourselves, and make once more a fane of the mind. We should treat our minds, that is, ourselves, as innocent and ingenuous children, whose guardians we are, and be careful what objects and what subjects we thrust on their attention. Read not the Times. Read the Eternities. Conventionalities are at length as had as impurities. Even the facts of science may dust the mind by their dryness, unless they are in a sense effaced each morning, or rather rendered fertile by the dews of fresh and living truth. Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven. Yes, every thought that passes through the mind helps to wear and tear it, and to deepen the ruts, which, as in the streets of Pompeii, evince how much it has been used. How many things there are concerning which we might well deliberate whether we had better know them- had better let their peddling-carts be driven, even at the slowest trot or walk, over that bride of glorious span by which we trust to pass at last from the farthest brink of time to the nearest shore of eternity! Have we no culture, no refinement- but skill only to live coarsely and serve the Devil?- to acquire a little worldly wealth, or fame, or liberty, and make a false show with it, as if we were all husk and shell, with no tender and living kernel to us? Shall our institutions be like those chestnut burs which contain abortive nuts, perfect only to prick the fingers?
America is said to be the arena on which the battle of freedom is to be fought; but surely it cannot be freedom in a merely political sense that is meant. Even if we grant that the American has freed himself from a political tyrant, he is still the slave of an economical and moral tyrant. Now that the republic- the respublica- has been settled, it is time to look after the res-privata- the private state- to see, as the Roman senate charged its consuls, "ne quid res-PRIVATA detrimenti caperet," that the private state receive no detriment.
Do we call this the land of the free? What is it to be free from King George and continue the slaves of King Prejudice? What is it to be born free and not to live free? What is the value of any political freedom, but as a means to moral freedom? Is it a freedom to be slaves, or a freedom to be free, of which we boast? We are a nation of politicians, concerned about the outmost defences only of freedom. It is our children's children who may perchance be really free. We tax ourselves unjustly. There is a part of us which is not represented. It is taxation without representation. We quarter troops, we quarter fools and cattle of all sorts upon ourselves. We quarter our gross bodies on our poor souls, till the former eat up all the latter's substance.
With respect to a true culture and manhood, we are essentially provincial still, not metropolitan- mere Jonathans. We are provincial, because we do not find at home our standards; because we do not worship truth, but the reflection of truth; because we are warped and narrowed by an exclusive devotion to trade and commerce and manufactures and agriculture and the like, which are but means, and not the end.
So is the English Parliament provincial. Mere country bumpkins, they betray themselves, when any more important question arises for them to settle, the Irish question, for instance- the English question why did I not say? Their natures are subdued to what they work in. Their "good breeding" respects only secondary objects. The finest manners in the world are awkwardness and fatuity when contrasted with a finer intelligence. They appear but as the fashions of past days- mere courtliness, knee-buckles and small-clothes, out of date. It is the vice, but not the excellence of manners, that they are continually being deserted by the character; they are cast-off-clothes or shells, claiming the respect which belonged to the living creature. You are presented with the shells instead of the meat, and it is no excuse generally, that, in the case of some fishes, the shells are of more worth than the meat. The man who thrusts his manners upon me does as if he were to insist on introducing me to his cabinet of curiosities, when I wished to see himself. It was not in this sense that the poet Decker called Christ "the first true gentleman that ever breathed." I repeat that in this sense the most splendid court in Christendom is provincial, having authority to consult about Transalpine interests only, and not the affairs of Rome. A praetor or proconsul would suffice to settle the questions which absorb the attention of the English Parliament and the American Congress.
Government and legislation! these I thought were respectable professions. We have heard of heaven-born Numas, Lycurguses, and Solons, in the history of the world, whose names at least may stand for ideal legislators; but think of legislating to regulate the breeding of slaves, or the exportation of tobacco! What have divine legislators to do with the exportation or the importation of tobacco? what humane ones with the breeding of slaves? Suppose you were to submit the question to any son of God- and has He no children in the Nineteenth Century? is it a family which is extinct?- in what condition would you get it again? What shall a State like Virginia say for itself at the last day, in which these have been the principal, the staple productions? What ground is there for patriotism in such a State? I derive my facts from statistical tables which the States themselves have published.
A commerce that whitens every sea in quest of nuts and raisins, and makes slaves of its sailors for this purpose! I saw, the other day, a vessel which had been wrecked, and many lives lost, and her cargo of rags, juniper berries, and bitter almonds were strewn along the shore. It seemed hardly worth the while to tempt the dangers of the sea between Leghorn and New York for the sake of a cargo of juniper berries and bitter almonds. America sending to the Old World for her bitters! Is not the sea-brine, is not shipwreck, bitter enough to make the cup of life go down here? Yet such, to a great extent, is our boasted commerce; and there are those who style themselves statesmen and philosophers who are so blind as to think that progress and civilization depend on precisely this kind of interchange and activity- the activity of flies about a molasses- hogshead. Very well, observes one, if men were oysters. And very well, answer I, if men were mosquitoes.
Lieutenant Herndon, whom our government sent to explore the Amazon, and, it is said, to extend the area of slavery, observed that there was wanting there "an industrious and active population, who know what the comforts of life are, and who have artificial wants to draw out the great resources of the country." But what are the "artificial wants" to be encouraged? Not the love of luxuries, like the tobacco and slaves of, I believe, his native Virginia, nor the ice and granite and other material wealth of our native New England; nor are "the great resources of a country" that fertility or barrenness of soil which produces these. The chief want, in every State that I have been into, was a high and earnest purpose in its inhabitants. This alone draws out "the great resources" of Nature, and at last taxes her beyond her resources; for man naturally dies out of her. When we want culture more than potatoes, and illumination more than sugar-plums, then the great resources of a world are taxed and drawn out, and the result, or staple production, is, not slaves, nor operatives, but men- those rare fruits called heroes, saints, poets, philosophers, and redeemers.
In short, as a snow-drift is formed where there is a lull in the wind, so, one would say, where there is a lull of truth, an institution springs up. But the truth blows right on over it, nevertheless, and at length blows it down.
What is called politics is comparatively something so superficial and inhuman, that practically I have never fairly recognized that it concerns me at all. The newspapers, I perceive, devote some of their columns specially to politics or government without charge; and this, one would say, is all that saves it; but as I love literature and to some extent the truth also, I never read those columns at any rate. I do not wish to blunt my sense of right so much. I have not got to answer for having read a single President's Message. A strange age of the world this, when empires, kingdoms, and republics come a-begging to a private man's door, and utter their complaints at his elbow! I cannot take up a newspaper but I find that some wretched government or other, hard pushed and on its last legs, is interceding with me, the reader, to vote for it- more importunate than an Italian beggar; and if I have a mind to look at its certificate, made, perchance, by some benevolent merchant's clerk, or the skipper that brought it over, for it cannot speak a word of English itself, I shall probably read of the eruption of some Vesuvius, or the overflowing of some Po, true or forged, which brought it into this condition. I do not hesitate, in such a case, to suggest work, or the almshouse; or why not keep its castle in silence, as I do commonly? The poor President, what with preserving his popularity and doing his duty, is completely bewildered. The newspapers are the ruling power. Any other government is reduced to a few marines at Fort Independence. If a man neglects to read the Daily Times, government will go down on its knees to him, for this is the only treason in these days.
Those things which now most engage the attention of men, as politics and the daily routine, are, it is true, vital functions of human society, but should be unconsciously performed, like the corresponding functions of the physical body. They are infrahuman, a kind of vegetation. I sometimes awake to a half-consciousness of them going on about me, as a man may become conscious of some of the processes of digestion in a morbid state, and so have the dyspepsia, as it is called. It is as if a thinker submitted himself to be rasped by the great gizzard of creation. Politics is, as it were, the gizzard of society, full of grit and gravel, and the two political parties are its two opposite halves- sometimes split into quarters, it may be, which grind on each other. Not only individuals, but states, have thus a confirmed dyspepsia, which expresses itself, you can imagine by what sort of eloquence. Thus our life is not altogether a forgetting, but also, alas! to a great extent, a remembering, of that which we should never have been conscious of, certainly not in our waking hours. Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our had dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? I do not make an exorbitant demand, surely.
THE END

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