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Could you say something about forgiveness?
It is one of the most fundamental things to understand. People ordinarily think that forgiveness is for those who are worthy of it, who deserve it. But if somebody deserves, is worthy of forgiveness, it is not much of a forgiveness. You are not doing anything on your part; he deserves it. You are not really being love and compassion. Your forgiveness will be authentic only when even those who don't deserve it receive it.
It is not a question of whether a person is worthy or not. The question is whether your heart is ready or not.
I am reminded of one of the most significant woman mystics, Rabiya al-Adabiya, a Sufi woman who was known for her very eccentric behavior. But in all her eccentric behavior there was a great insight. Once, another Sufi mystic Hasan was staying with Rabiya. Because he was going to stay with Rabiya, he had not brought his own holy Koran, which he used to read every morning as part of his discipline. He thought he could borrow Rabiya's holy Koran, so he had not brought his own copy with him.
In the morning he asked Rabiya, and she gave him her copy. He could not believe his eyes. When he opened the Koran he saw something which no Mohammedan could believe: in many places Rabiya had corrected it. It is the greatest sin as far as Mohammedans are concerned; the Koran is the word of God according to them. How can you change it? How can you even think that you can make something better? Not only has she changed it, she has simply cut out a few words, a few lines -- removed them.
Hasan said to her, "Rabiya, somebody has destroyed your Koran!" Rabiya said, "Don't be stupid, nobody can touch my Koran. What you are looking at is my doing." Hasan said, "But how could you do such a thing?" She said, "I had to do it, there was no way out. For example, look here: the Koran says, "When you see the devil, hate him." Since I have become awakened I cannot find any hate within me. Even if the devil stands in front of me I can only shower him with my love, because I don't have anything else left. It does not matter whether God stands in front of me, or the devil; both will receive the same love. All that I have is love; hate has disappeared. The moment hate disappeared from me I had to make changes in my book of the holy Koran. If you have not changed it, that simply means you have not arrived to the space where only love remains."
I will say to you, the people who don't deserve, the people who are unworthy, don't make any difference to the man who has come to the space of forgiveness. He will forgive, irrespective of who receives it. He cannot be so miserly that only the worthy should receive it. And from where is he going to find unforgiveness? This is a totally different perspective. It does not concern itself with the other. Who are you to make the judgment whether the other is worthy or unworthy? The very judgment is ugly and mean.
I know Rudolph Hess is certainly one of the greatest criminals. And his crime becomes even a millionfold bigger, because in the Nuremburg trial with the remaining companions of Adolf Hitler -- who killed almost eight million people in the second world war -- he said in front of the court, "I don't repent anything!" Not only that, he also said, "And if I could start from the very beginning, I would do the same thing again." It is very natural to think this man is not worthy of forgiveness; that will be the common understanding. Everybody will agree with you.
But I cannot agree with you. It does not matter what Rudolf Hess has done, what he is saying. What matters is that you are capable of forgiving even him. That will raise your consciousness to the ultimate heights. If you cannot forgive Rudolf Hess you will remain just an ordinary human being, with all kinds of judgments of worthiness, of unworthiness. But basically you cannot forgive him because your forgiveness is not big enough.
I can forgive the whole world for the simple reason that my forgiveness is absolute; it is nonjudgmental. I will tell you a small Tibetan story which will make the point absolutely clear to you.
He had a small young boy who used to cook food for him, wash his clothes, fetch vegetables from the market. The boy himself had become slowly, slowly old and for his whole life he had been listening to the old man, who had lived almost one hundred years, and without exception the denial: nobody is worthy! "I will die," he said, "without initiating anyone, but I will not initiate anyone who is nondeserving."
People became tired, frustrated. They loved the man, the man had immense qualities, but they could not understand his very stubborn attitude -- no kindness, no compassion.
But one morning the old man woke up his companion, who himself had become old, and said to him, "Run immediately down the hills to the marketplace and tell everybody that whoever wants to be initiated must come soon, because this evening as the sun sets I am going to die."
The old man said, "Don't worry at all. It was only a device, because I myself was not worthy to initiate anyone, but it was against my dignity to say so. So I chose the other way round. I was saying, `Unless I find somebody worthy enough, deserving enough, I am not going to initiate.' The truth is, I was not worthy to be a master. Now I am, but the time is very short. Only this morning as the sun was rising, my own consciousness has also risen to the ultimate peak. Now I am ready. Now it does not matter who is worthy and who is unworthy. What matters now is that I am worthy. Just go and fetch anybody! Just go and make the whole village aware that this is the last day of my life, and anybody who wants to be initiated should come immediately. Bring as many people as you can."
The companion of the old man was at a loss, but there was no time to argue. He ran down the hill, reached the marketplace and shouted all over the village, "Anybody who wants to become a disciple, the old man is ready now."
People could not believe it. But out of curiosity a few thought, "There is no harm at least to see what is going on." The man had refused his whole life, and on the last day of his life suddenly such a great change. Somebody's wife had died and he was feeling very lonely, so he thought, "It is good. If he is going to initiate everybody, no question of worthiness..." Somebody was released from jail just the night before; he thought, "Nobody is going to give me employment; this is a good chance to become a saint."
All kinds of strange people went to the cave of the old man, and his companion was feeling so embarrassed at the kind of people he had brought: one is a criminal, one's wife is dead, that's why he thinks, "It is better... now, what else to do?" Somebody has gone bankrupt and was thinking to commit suicide; now he thinks that this is better than suicide.
A few had come just out of curiosity. They had no other work; they were playing jazz and they thought, "We can play jazz tomorrow, but today there is no harm, let us see what this initiation is. Anyway, that man is going to die by the evening so we will be free to remain disciples or not. We can play jazz tomorrow -- there is no harm."
The companion of the old man was feeling very embarrassed, "How will I present this strange lot when that old man has refused kings, saints, sages, who have come with deep earnestness to be initiated? And now he is going to initiate this gang!" He was even feeling ashamed, but he entered and asked, "Should I call the people? -- eleven have come."
The old man said, "Call them quickly, because it is already afternoon. You took so much time and you could fetch just eleven people?"
His companion said, "What can I do? It is a working day; it is not a holiday. I could only get these. All are absolutely useless; even I could not initiate them. Not only that they are not worthy -- they are absolutely UNworthy. But you insisted to bring somebody; nobody else was available."
The old man said, "There is no problem. Just bring them in." And he initiated them all. Even they were shocked. And they said to the old man, "This is strange behavior. All your life you have insisted that one has to deserve to be a disciple. What happened to your principle?"
The old man laughed. He said, "That was not a principle, that was only to hide my own unworthiness. I was not yet in the position to be a master. And I cannot cheat anyone, I cannot deceive anyone; hence I have taken shelter behind a judgmental attitude, that unless you are worthy, you will not get initiation."
Everybody has his own flaws, weaknesses; everybody has done things that he never wanted to do. Everybody has gone astray. Nobody can say that he is absolutely pure; everybody is polluted. So when the old man insisted, "Unless you are worthy don't come back to me," nobody argued with him; he was right. First they have to be worthy!
On the last day, he said to those eleven disciples, "I bless you and initiate you. It doesn't matter whether you are worthy or not, but for the first time I am worthy. And if I am really worthy, just my presence is going to purify you. My worthiness of being a master is going to make you a worthy disciple. Now I don't have to depend on your worthiness. My worthiness is enough.
"I am just like a rain cloud; I will shower all over the place -- on the mountains, on the streets, on the houses, in the farms, in the gardens. I will shower everywhere, because I am too burdened with my rainwater. It does not matter whether the garden deserves... I don't even make any distinction between the garden and the rocks. I will simply shower out of my abundance."
If your meditations bring you to the state of a rain cloud, you will forgive without any judgment out of your abundance, out of your love, out of your compassion.
In fact I would like to make the statement that the man who is unworthy deserves more than the man who is worthy. The man who does not deserve, deserves more, because he is so poor; don't be hard upon him. Life has been hard upon him. He has gone astray; he has suffered because of his wrong doings. Now don't you be hard on him. He needs more love than those who are deserving; he needs more forgiveness than those who are worthy. This should be the only approach of a religious heart.
Your question was raised before Gautam Buddha, because he was going to initiate a murderer into sannyas -- and the murderer was no ordinary murderer. Rudolf Hess is nothing compared to him. His name was Angulimal. Angulimal means a man who wears a garland of human fingers.
He had taken a vow that he would kill one thousand people; from each single person he would take one finger so that he could remember how many he had killed and he will make a garland of all those fingers. In his garland of fingers he had nine hundred and ninety-nine fingers -- only one was missing. And that one was missing because his road was closed; nobody was coming that way. But Gautam Buddha entered that closed road. The king had put guards on the road to prevent people, particularly strangers who didn't know that a dangerous man lived behind the hills. The guards told Gautam Buddha, "That is not the road to be used. You will have to take a little longer route, but it is better to go a little longer than to go into the mouth of death itself. This is the place where Angulimal lives. Even the king has not the guts to go on this road. That man is simply mad.
"His mother used to go to him. She was the only person who used to go, once in a while, to see him, but even she stopped. The last time she went there he told her, `Now only one finger is missing, and just because you happen to be my mother... I want to warn you that if you come another time you will not go back. I need one finger desperately. Up to now I have not killed you because other people were available, but now nobody passes on this road except you. So I want to make you aware that next time if you come it will be your responsibility, not mine.' Since that time his mother has not come."
The guards said to Buddha, "Don't unnecessarily take the risk." And do you know what Buddha said to them? Buddha said, "If I don't go then who will go? Only two things are possible: either I will change him, and I cannot miss this challenge; or I will provide him with one finger so that his desire is fulfilled. Anyway I am going to die one day. Giving my head to Angulimal will be at least of some use; otherwise one day I will die and you will put me on the funeral pyre. I think that it is better to fulfill somebody's desire and give him peace of mind. Either he will kill me or I will kill him, but this encounter is going to happen; you just lead the way."
The people who used to follow Gautam Buddha, his close companions who were always in competition to be closer to him, started slowing down. Soon there were miles between Gautam Buddha and his disciples. They all wanted to see what happened, but they didn't want to be too close.
Angulimal was sitting on his rock watching. He could not believe his eyes. A very beautiful man of such immense charisma was coming towards him. Who could this man be? He had never heard of Gautam Buddha, but even this hard heart of Angulimal started feeling a certain softness towards the man. He was looking so beautiful, coming towards him. It was early morning... a cool breeze, and the sun was rising... and the birds were singing and the flowers had opened; and Buddha was coming closer and closer.
Finally Angulimal, with his naked sword in his hand, shouted, "Stop!" Gautam Buddha was just a few feet away, and Angulimal said, "Don't take another step because then the responsibility will not be mine. Perhaps you don't know who I am!"
Angulimal said, "This is not the point. Neither is it the place nor the time to discuss such things. Your life is in danger!"
Buddha said, "I think otherwise -- your life is in danger."
That man said, "I used to think I was mad -- you are simply mad. And you go on moving closer. Then don't say that I killed an innocent man. You look so innocent and so beautiful that I want you to go back. I will find somebody else. I can wait; there is no hurry. If I can manage nine hundred and ninety-nine... it is only a question of one more, but don't force me to kill YOU."
Buddha said, "Nonsense! The truth is, since the day I became enlightened I have not moved a single inch. I am centered, utterly centered, no movement. And your mind is continuously moving round and round in circles... and you have the guts to tell to me to stop. You stop! I have stopped long ago."
Buddha came very close, and Angulimal's hands were trembling. The man was so beautiful, so innocent, so childlike. He had already fallen in love. He had killed so many people... He had never felt this weakness; he had never known what love is. For the first time he was full of love. So there was a contradiction: the hand was holding the sword to kill the person, and his heart was saying, "Put the sword back in the sheath."
Buddha said, "I am ready, but why is your hand shaking? -- you are such a great warrior, even kings are afraid of you, and I am just a poor beggar. Except the begging bowl, I don't have anything. You can kill me, and I will feel immensely satisfied that at least my death fulfills somebody's desire; my life has been useful, my death has also been useful. But before you cut my head I have a small desire, and Ithink you will grant me a small desire before killing me."
Before death even the hardest enemy is willing to fulfill any desire.
Buddha said, "I want you just to cut from the tree a branch which is full of flowers. I will never see these flowers again; I want to see those flowers closely, feel their fragrance and their beauty in this morning sun, their glory."
So Angulimal cut with his sword a whole branch full of flowers. And before he could give it to Buddha, Buddha said, "This was only half the desire; the other half is, please put the branch back on the tree."
Angulimal said, "I was thinking from the very beginning that you are crazy. Now this is the craziest desire. How can I put this branch back?"
Buddha said, "If you cannot create, you have no right to destroy. If you cannot give life, you don't have the right to give death to any living thing."
A moment of silence and a moment of transformation... the sword fell down from his hands. Angulimal fell down at the feet of Gautam Buddha, and he said, "I don't know who you are, but whoever you are, take me to the same space in which you are; initiate me."
By that time the followers of Gautam Buddha had come closer and closer. Seeing that now Gautam Buddha was standing in front of Angulimal, there was no problem, no fear, although he needed only one finger. They were all around and when he fell at Buddha's feet they immediately came close. Somebody raised the question, "Don't initiate this man, he is a murderer. And he is not an ordinary murderer; he has murdered nine hundred and ninety-nine people, all innocent, all strangers. They have not done any wrong to him. He had not even seen them before!"
Buddha said again, "If I don't initiate him, who will initiate him? And I love the man, I love his courage. And I can see tremendous possibility in him: a single man fighting against the whole world. I want this kind of people, who can stand against the whole world. Up to now he was standing against the world with a sword; now he will stand against the world with a consciousness which is far sharper than any sword. I told you that murder was going to happen, but it was not certain who was going to be murdered -- either I was going to be murdered, or Angulimal. Now you can see Angulimal is murdered. And who I am to judge?"
The question is not whether anybody is worthy or not. The question is whether you have the consciousness, the abundance of love -- then forgiveness will come out of it spontaneously. It is not a calculation, it is not arithmetic.
Life is love, and living a life of love is the only religious life, the only life of prayer, peace, the only life of gratitude, grandeur, splendor.
Osho, The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here, chapter 24
I feel so much anger towards my mother....
[Articles] > I feel so much anger towards my mother....
I am having a very hard time with my mother. I feel so much anger towards her. Can you please talk about the relationship between children and parents?
Every child would be angry if he understood what the poor parents have been doing to him unknowingly, unconsciously. All their efforts are for the good of the child. Their intentions are good but their consciousness is nil. And good intentions in the hands of unconscious people are dangerous; they cannot bring about the result they are intending. They may create just the opposite.
Every parent is trying to bring a beautiful child into the world, but looking at the world it seems it is an orphanage. There has been no parent at all. In fact if it were an orphanage, it would have been far better, because you would at least have been yourself -- no parents to interfere with you.
So the anger is natural, but useless. To be angry does not help your parents and it harms you.
Gautam Buddha is reported to have made a very strange statement: In your anger you punish yourself for somebody else's fault. It looks very strange the first time you come across the statement that in anger you punish yourself for somebody else's fault.
Your parents have done something twenty years back, thirty years back, and you are angry now. Your anger is not going to help anyone; it is simply going to create more wounds in you. And being near me, close to me.... I am trying to explain to you the whole mechanism of how children are being brought up, you should become more understanding that whatever has happened had to happen. Your parents were conditioned by their parents. You cannot find out who was really responsible to begin with. It has been passed from generation to generation.
Your parents are doing exactly what has been done to them. They have been victims. You will feel compassion for them and you will feel joyous that you are not going to repeat the same thing in your life. If you decide to have children you will feel joyous that you are going to break the vicious circle, that you are going to jump out of the line that goes back to the very beginning and continues up to you, that you can become the dead end. You will not do it to your children or to any other person's children.
You should feel fortunate that you have a master with you to explain what has been happening between parents and children -- the complex upbringing, good intentions, bad results, where everybody is trying to do the best and the world goes on becoming worse and worse.
Your parents were not so fortunate to have a master -- and you are being angry at them. You should feel kind, compassionate, loving. Whatever they did was unconscious. They could not have done otherwise. All that they knew they have tried on you. They were miserable, and they have created another miserable human being in the world.
They had no clarity about why they were miserable. You have the clarity to understand why one becomes miserable. And once you understand how misery is created, you can avoid causing the same in somebody else.
But feel for your parents. They worked hard; they did everything that they could, but they had no idea how psychology functions. Instead of being taught how to become a mother or how to become a father, they were being taught how to become a Christian, how to become a Marxist, how to become a tailor, how to become a plumber, how to become a philosopher -- all these things are good and needed, but the basic thing is missing. If they are going to produce children, then their most significant teaching should be how to become a mother, how to become a father.
It has been taken for granted that by giving birth you know how to become a mother and how to become a father. Yes, as far as giving birth to a child... it is a biological act, you don't have to be psychologically trained for it. Animals are doing perfectly well, birds are doing perfectly well, trees are doing perfectly well. But giving birth to a child biologically is one thing and to be a mother or to be a father is totally different. It needs great education because you are creating a human being.
Animals are not creating anything, they are simply producing carbon copies. And now science has come to a point where they have discovered that carbon copies can really be produced! It is a very dangerous idea. If we make banks -- and sooner or later we are going to make them; once an idea is there it is going to become a reality. And scientifically it is proved that it is one hundred percent possible...there is no problem.
We can have banks in the hospitals for both the male sperms and female eggs. And we can create exactly the same two sperms and exactly the same two eggs, so two children are born which are exactly the same. One child will be released into the world; the other will grow in a fridge, unconscious, but all his parts will be exactly the same as the other person. And if the first person is in an accident and loses a leg or loses a kidney, or has to be operated on, there is no problem: his carbon copy is waiting in the hospital. From the carbon copy a kidney can be taken out -- he is growing exactly at the same rate, he is just unconscious -- and it will be exactly the same as the kidney that has been lost. It can be replaced.
That carbon copy will always be available for replacing any parts -- even the brain. You can fall into a coma or you can even have a heart attack.... Your brain can remain alive even after a heart attack for at least four minutes -- but not more than that. If during these four minutes an identical brain is inserted, an identical heart is inserted, you will never feel that anything has changed or anything has happened to you. Perhaps you fell asleep and now you are awake. You will never know that your brain has been changed, that your heart has been changed.
This idea of having carbon copies seems to be a great advancement in medical science in a way, but it is dangerous -- dangerous in the sense that man becomes a machine with replaceable parts, just like any machine. When something goes wrong you replace the part. And if every part can be replaced then man will be falling farther and farther away from spiritual growth, because he will start thinking of himself as just a machine. That's what half of the world, the communist world, thinks -- that man is a machine.
You are fortunate that you can understand the situation your parents were in. They have not done anything specifically to you; they would have done the same to any child that was born to them. They were programmed for that. They were helpless. And to be angry against helpless people is simply not right. It is unjust, unfair, and moreover it is harmful to you.
If your parents cannot understand me, you should not be worried about it. The whole world cannot understand me. Your parents are normal people; they just follow the crowd, which is safer. You have fallen out of the crowd. You have chosen a risky and dangerous path. If they don't want to go into a dangerous lifestyle, it is their choice; that should not be a cause for your anger.
In fact you can help them by really becoming the individual that I am talking about: more conscious, more alert, more loving. Seeing you can only change them. Seeing you so radically changed can only make them think twice, that perhaps they are wrong. There is no other way. You cannot intellectually convince them. Intellectually they can argue, and argument never changes anybody. The only thing that changes people is the charisma, the magnetism, the magic, of your individuality. Then whatever you touch becomes golden.
So rather than wasting your time and energy in being angry and fighting against the past which no longer exists, put your whole energy into becoming the magic of your individuality. So when your parents see you they cannot remain untouched by the new qualities that you have grown, qualities which are automatically impressive: your freshness, your understanding, your unconditional lovingness, your kindness even in a situation where anger would have been more appropriate.
Only these things can be the real arguments. You need not say a word. Your eyes, your face, your actions, your behavior, your response, will make the change in them. They will start inquiring about what has happened to you, how it has happened to you -- because everybody wants these qualities. These are the real riches. Nobody is so rich that he can afford not to have the things that I am telling you.
So put your energy into transforming yourself. That will help you, that will help your parents. Perhaps it may create a chain reaction. Your parents may have other children, they may have friends, and it will go on and on.
It is just like you are sitting on the bank of a silent lake and you throw a small pebble into the lake. The pebble is so small that it creates a small circle at first, but circle after circle...and they go on spreading to the far ends, as far as the lake can take them. And it was only a small pebble.
Just create a small ripple of right individuality and it will reach to many people -- and certainly to those who are most closely related to you. They will see it first, and they will understand with great awe. They will not believe their eyes because all that they know of religion is the Sunday church, where nothing happens. They have been going every Sunday their whole lives, and they come back home just the same.
In the name of religion they know only the Bible or the Koran or the Gita and they have been reading it and nothing happens, because they don't know one thing -- that you are a living being and a book is dead. And the man in the church who is delivering a sermon is just a professional. He has prepared the sermon from the books, and he goes on repeating the same sermons. Nobody listens, so nobody catches him. He is repeating the same sermon that he delivered two months before. Nobody listened that time, and nobody is listening this time. And you know that that sermon cannot change you because that sermon has not changed the preacher himself. He is just as mundane as you are -- perhaps more. I used to know a Jaina monk who was a very simple man, almost a simpleton. He asked me, "How many lectures do you have?"
He said, "I have only three: one is for ten minutes, one is for twenty minutes, one is for thirty minutes, depending on the occasion. Sometimes in a conference you have only ten minutes. I have a ready-made, ten minute lecture. If they give me twenty minutes, I have a twenty minute lecture. If they give me thirty minutes, I have a thirty minute one. More than that is not possible, because nobody is interested in listening too much. People want a short cut."
He said, "Nobody has said anything about it to me, and I have been using these three lectures my whole life. Wherever I go -- to the temples, colleges, and universities where I talk -- I ask, `How many minutes? Ten, twenty, thirty?' Whatever they want, my lecture is ready. And I have repeated the same lecture so many times that now I don't feel nervous. I can repeat the lecture without thinking at all!"
One of the most famous, world-renowned Christian missionaries was Stanley Jones. He was very friendly with me but he became very angry and then the friendship was broken. He was an old man, a friend of Mahatma Gandhi, and Mahatma Gandhi respected him very much. He used to come to the city where I was living and he stayed in the house of one of my friends. He had printed cards -- ten cards or twenty cards for his whole lecture -- and he would put the cards on the table. He would start lecturing, and he would go on changing the cards.
He became very angry with me because I mixed up his cards! So he was saying something and it was not on the card. He almost had a nervous breakdown. He looked at all the cards and it was not there. That card I had taken out. And he said, "Today I am not feeling well. I am feeling sick, so I will not be speaking."
And he asked the host, "Who has done this?"
The host said, "Your friend."
I said, "Once in a while you should speak from your heart, not from these cards. I have looked in your suitcase, and you have almost fifty sets of these cards, so you can go on repeating these speeches. And do you think this is going to help anybody? -- these dead cards that you have repeated your whole life? And today just because one card was missing and the numbers were mixed up, you lost your temper, you lost your integrity. You were almost in a state of madness. And what do you think people thought who had come to listen to you?"
So feel blissful. Here you have a chance to get totally transformed. And help your poor parents, because they did not have such a chance; feel sorry for them.
The Path of the Mystic, Chapter 15, Question 2
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
"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
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
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
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,
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 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
the chiseled body he had developed in his youth as an accomplished ballet
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
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
deep contemplation and developed the spiritual techniques imparted to him in
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
Virginia City, Nevada, and other areas of California. During this time he
welcomed Hindu swamis coming for the first time to America, including Swami
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
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
courses for the general market, writing about Indian spiritual practices
long before they became popular.
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.
In the 80s, often as part of his Innersearch programs, he conducted Hindu
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,
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
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
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
countries and include both men born into the Hindu religion and those who
will be carried forward and flourish in the future under the guidance of his
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
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
are popular around the world for their easy readability, and are used in
in question and answer format on the basics of Hinduism. Central to "Living
with Siva" are his lengthy explanations of the traditional restraints and
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
a quiet, slow, natural exit from the body, coupled with spiritual practices,
The third book, "Merging with Siva," is on mystical Hinduism,
light and serious aspirants wishing to follow the path toward illumination
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;
request from the Hindus of Fiji, he prepared a children's course, Saivite
Hindu Religion, now taught to thousands of children around the world.
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
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
information, is by far the largest resource on Hinduism on the Internet
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
decades, Subramuniyaswami, a highly enlightened soul of the West -- a
Hanuman of today, a reincarnation of Siva Himself -- has watered the roots
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
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
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,
to Bangalore to supervise the workers. The family oversees even today the
stones which are quarried, carved and trial-fitted, then shipped to Kauai
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,
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
powers, he clarified and purified all of the Saivite teachings of his
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
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,
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
their caste.
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
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
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
prominent attorney, offered this summary of Subramuniyaswami's work in the
"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,
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
people would come for the weekly homas held at that time. Today the major
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.
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
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
cited everywhere, including on the floor of the United Nations, as an
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
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
positive future for the island's community. He worked monthly with the mayor
of Kauai, with county council members, the university provost, the
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
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
"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.
Azim Premji's Success Recipe
Wipro chairman Azim H Premji, one of India's most successful entrepreneurs, on Friday prescribed a 10-point recipe for success, based on the very lessons he had learnt during his last 35 years in the organisation.
The Wipro chairman was delivering the convocation address at the 38 the convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
Following is the entire text of the convocation address made by Premji:
The convocation marks the culmination of all the endless nights you worked through, all the anxieties you have gone through facing one examination after another and all the preparation you have put in, not only to enter this prestigious institution but also to graduate from it successfully. It is no mean achievement.
Only a handful of the most talented people in the world have shared this success with you. Let me just say that I am very proud of each and every one of you.
I am a little wary about giving you advice- because advice is one thing young people all over the world do not like receiving. I cannot fault you for that.
The world does look very different when it is seen with your eyes. You are filled with enthusiasm and are straining at the leash to get on with life.
And the world is very different from what it was when I was at your age. Never before has the role of technology been so pervasive and so central. The Internet has breached all physical borders and connected the world together like no other force has done before.
For the first time, opportunities for creating wealth in India are at par with the best in world. There is no need for you to sacrifice the joy of remaining in your own country any more.
All opportunities are accompanied by their own challenges. I thought I would share with you a few of the lessons I have learnt in my own life, while loading the transformation at Wipro, from a small company three and a half decades back into a global corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange. I hope you find them useful.
When I entered Wipro at the age of 21, it was a sudden and unexpected event. I had no warning of what lay ahead of me and I was caught completely unprepared. All I had with me was a dream.
A dream of building a great Organisation. It compensated for my inexperience and I guess, also prevented me from being overwhelmed by the enormity of the task before me.
What I am happy is that we never stopped dreaming. Even when we achieved a position of leadership in every business we operated in India. We now have a dream of becoming one of the top 10 global it service companies.
Many people wonder whether having unrealistic dreams is foolish. My reply to that is dreams by themselves can never be realistic or safe. If they were, they would not be dreams. I do agree that one must have strategies to execute dreams. And, of course, one must slog to transform dreams into reality. But dreams come first.
What saddens me most is to see young, bright people getting completely disillusioned by a few initial setbacks and slowly turning cynical and some of them want to migrate to America in the hope this is the solution.
While success is important, it can become enduring only if it is built on a strong foundation of Values. Define what you stand for as early as possible and do not compromise with it for any reason. Nobody can enjoy the fruits of success if you have to argue with your own conscience.
In Wipro, we defined our Beliefs long before it became a fashion to do so. It not only helped us in becoming more resilient to stand up to crises we faced along the way, but it also helped us in attracting the right kind of people.
But remember that values are meaningful only if you practice them. People may listen to what you say but they will believe what you do. Values are a matter of trust. They must be reflected in each one of your actions. Trust takes a long time to build but can be lost quickly by just one inconsistent act.
All the available knowledge in the world is accelerating at a phenomenal rate. The whole world's codified knowledge base (all documented information in library books and electronic files) doubled every 30 years in the early 20th century.
By the 1970s, the world's knowledge base doubled every seven years. Information researchers predict that by the year 2010, the world's codified knowledge will double every 11 hours.
Remaining on top of what you need to know will become one of the greatest challenges for you.
The natural zest and curiosity for learning is one of the greatest drivers for keeping updated on knowledge. A child's curiosity is insatiable because every new object is a thing of wonder and mystery. The same zest is needed to keep learning new things.
There is a tremendous difference between being good and being excellent in whatever you do. In the world of tomorrow, just being good is not good enough.
One of the greatest advantages of globalisation is that it has brought in completely different standards. Being the best in the country is not enough; one has to be the best in the world. Excellence is a moving target. One has to constantly raise the bar.
In the knowledge-based industries, India has the unique advantage of being a quality leader. just like japan was able to win in the overseas market with its quality leadership in automobile manufacturing, india has been able to do the same in information technology.
At Wipro, we treat quality as the #1 priority. This enabled us not only to become the world's first SEI CMM Level 5 software services company in the world but also a leader in Six Sigma approach to quality in India.
However, even today I am dissatisfied with several things which we are not doing right in the area of customer satisfaction.
Doing something excellently has its own intrinsic joy, which I think is the greatest benefit of Quality.
Self-confidence comes from a positive attitude even in adverse situations. Self-confident people assume responsibility for their mistakes and share credit with their team members.
They are able to distinguish between what is in their control and what is not. They do not waste their energies on events that are outside their control and hence they can take setbacks in their stride.
The challenges ahead are so complex that no individual will be able to face them alone. While most of our education is focused in individual strength, teaming with others is equally important. You cannot fire a missile from a canoe. Unless you build a strong network of people with complimentary skills, you will be restricted by your own limitations.
Globalisation has brought in people of different origin, different upbringing and different cultures together. Ability to become an integral part of a cross-cultural team will be a must for your success.
The stress that a young person faces today while beginning his or her career is the same as the last generation faced at the time of retirement.
I have myself found that my job has become enormously more complex over the last two or three years. Along with mutual alertness, physical fitness will also assume a great importance in your life.
You must develop your own mechanism for dealing with stress. I have found that a daily jog for me, goes a long way in releasing the pressure and building up energy. You will need lots of energy to deal with the challenges.
Unless you take care of yourself there is no way you can take care of others.
Finally, no matter what you decide to do in your life, you must persevere. Keep at it and you will succeed, no matter how hopeless it seems at times. In the last three and half decades, we have gone through many difficult times. But we have found that if we remain true to what we believe in, we can surmount every difficulty that comes in the way.
An eight-year-old child heard her parents talking about her little brother. All she knew was that he was very sick and they had no money left. They were moving to a smaller house because they could not afford to stay in the present house after paying the doctor's bills. Only a very costly surgery could save him now and there was no one to loan them the money.
When she heard daddy say to her tearful mother with whispered desperation, 'Only a miracle can save him now', the child went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jar from its hiding place in the closet.
She poured all the change out on the floor and counted it carefully.
Clutching the precious jar tightly, she slipped out the back door and made her way six blocks to the local drug Store. She took a quarter from her jar and placed it on the glass counter.
"And what do you want?" asked the pharmacist. "It's for my little brother," the girl answered back. "He's really, really sick and I want to buy a miracle."
"I beg your pardon?" said the pharmacist.
"We don't sell miracles here, child. I'm sorry," the pharmacist said, smiling sadly at the little girl.
"Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I can try and get some more. Just tell me how much it costs."
In the shop was a well-dressed customer. He stooped down and asked the little girl, "What kind of a miracle does you brother need?"
"How much do you have?" asked the man. "One dollar and eleven cents, but I can try and get some more", she answered barely audibly.
"Well, what a coincidence," smiled the man. "A dollar and eleven cents -- the exact price of a miracle for little brothers."
He took her money in one hand and held her hand with the other. He said, "Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the kind of miracle you need."
That well-dressed man was Dr Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specialising in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed without charge and it wasn't long before Andrew was home again and doing well.
The little girl smiled. She knew exactly how much the miracle cost ... one dollar and eleven cents ... plus the faith of a little child.
For decades we have been waiting for some one who will help us in 'priming the pump' of the economy.
The government was the logical choice for doing it, but it was strapped for resources. Other countries were willing to give us loans and aids but there was a limit to this.
In the millennium of the mind, knowledge-based industries like Information Technology are in a unique position to earn wealth from outside. While earning is important, we must have mechanisms by which we use it for the larger good of our society.
Through the Azim Premji Foundation, we have targeted over the next 12 months to enrol over a million children, who are out of school due to economic or social reasons.
I personally believe that the greatest gift one can give to others is the gift of education. We who have been so fortunate to receive this gift know how valuable it is.
The moment we allow success to build a feeling or arrogance, we become vulnerable to making bad judgements.
Let me illustrate this with another story:
A lady in faded dress and her husband, dressed in a threadbare suit, walked in without an appointment into the office of the president of the most prestigious educational institution in America.
The secretary frowned at them and said, "He will be busy all day."
"We will wait," said the couple quietly.
The secretary ignored them for hours hoping they will go away. But they did not. Finally, the secretary decided to disturb the president, hoping they will go way quickly once they meet him.
The president took one look at the faded dresses and glared sternly at them. The lady said, "Our son studied here and he was very happy. A year ago, he was killed in an accident. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial for him on the campus."
The president was not touched. He was shocked. "Madam, we cannot put up a statue for every student of ours who died. This place would look like a cemetery."
"Oh, no," the lady explained quickly, "we don't want to erect a statue. We thought we would give a building to you."
"A building?" exclaimed the president, looking at their worn out clothes. "Do you have any idea how much a building costs? Our buildings cost close to ten million dollars!"
The lady was silent. The president was pleased and thought this would get rid of them.
The lady looked at her husband. "If that is what it costs to start a university, why don't we start our own?" Her husband nodded.
Mr and Mrs Leland Stanford walked away, travelling to Palo Alto, California, where they established the university as a memorial to their son, bearing their name - the Stanford University.
The story goes that this is how Stanford University began.
I suffer immensely from loneliness....
The darkness of loneliness cannot be fought directly. It is something essential for everyone to understand, that there are a few fundamental things which cannot be changed. This is one of the fundamentals: you cannot fight with darkness directly, with loneliness directly, with the fear of isolation directly. The reason is that all these things do not exist; they are simply absences of something, just as darkness is the absence of light.
Now what do you do when you want the room not to be dark? You don't do anything directly with darkness -- or do you? You cannot push it out. There is no possible way to make any arrangement so that the darkness disappears. You have to do something with the light. Now that changes the whole situation; and that's what I call one of the essentials, fundamentals. You don't even touch the darkness; you don't think about it. There is no point; it does not exist, it is simply an absence.
So just bring in light and you will not find darkness at all, because it was the absence of light, simply the absence of light -- not something material, with its own being, not something that exists. But simply because light was not there, you got a false feeling of the existence of darkness.
You can go on fighting with this darkness your whole life and you will not succeed, but just a small candle is enough to dispel it. You have to work for the light because it is positive, existential; it exists on it own. And once light comes, anything that was its absence automatically disappears.
You don't know your aloneness. You have not experienced your aloneness and its beauty, its tremendous power, its strength. Loneliness and aloneness in the dictionaries are synonymous, but existence does not follow your dictionaries. And nobody has yet tried to make an existential dictionary which will not be contradictory to existence.
Because you don't know your aloneness, there is fear. You feel lonely so you want to cling to something, to somebody, to some relationship, just to keep the illusion that you are not lonely. But you know you are -- hence the pain. On the one hand you are clinging to something which is not for real, which is just a temporary arrangement -- a relationship, a friendship.
And while you are in the relationship you can create a little illusion to forget your loneliness. But this is the problem: although you can forget for a moment your loneliness, just the next moment you suddenly become aware that the relationship or the friendship is nothing permanent. Yesterday you did not know this man or this woman, you were strangers. Today you are friends -- who knows about tomorrow? Tomorrow you may be strangers again -- hence the pain.
The illusion gives a certain solace, but it cannot create the reality so that all fear disappears. It represses the fear, so on the surface you feel good -- at least you try to feel good. You pretend to feel good to yourself: how wonderful is the relationship, how wonderful is the man or the woman. But behind the illusion -- and the illusion is so thin that you can see behind it -- there is pain in the heart, because the heart knows perfectly well that tomorrow things may not be the same... and they are not the same.
Your whole life's experience supports that things go on changing. Nothing remains stable; you cannot cling to anything in a changing world. You wanted to make your friendship something permanent but your wanting is against the law of change, and that law is not going to make exceptions. It simply goes on doing its own thing. It will change -- everything.
Perhaps in the long run you will understand one day that it was good that it did not listen to you, that existence did not bother about you and just went on doing whatever it wanted to do... not according to your desire.
It may take a little time for you to understand. You want this friend to be your friend forever, but tomorrow he turns into an enemy. Or simply -- "You get lost!" and he is no longer with you. Somebody else fills the gap who is a far superior being. Then suddenly you realize it was good that the other one got lost; otherwise you would have been stuck with him. But still the lesson never goes so deep that you stop asking for permanence.
You will start asking for permanence with this man, with this woman: now this should not change. You have not really learned the lesson that change is simply the very fabric of life. You have to understand it and go with it. Don't create illusions; they are not going to help. And everybody is creating illusions of different kinds.
He said, "Everybody changes. You cannot rely on anybody. And as you get older, only your money is yours. Nobody cares -- not even your son, not even your wife. If you have money they all care, they all respect you, because you have money. If you don't have money you become a beggar."
His saying that the only thing in the world to trust is money comes out of a long experience of life, of getting cheated again and again by the people he trusted -- and he thought they loved him but they were all around him for the money.
"But," I told him, "at the moment of death money is not going to be with you. You can have an illusion that at least money is with you, but as your breathing stops, money is no longer with you. You have earned something but it will be left on this side; you cannot carry it beyond death. You will fall into a deep loneliness which you have been hiding behind the facade of money."
There are people who are after power, but the reason is the same: when they are in power so many people are with them, millions of people are under their domination. They are not alone. They are great political and religious leaders. But power changes. One day you have it, another day it is gone, and suddenly the whole illusion disappears. You are lonely as nobody else is, because others are accustomed to being lonely. You are not accustomed... your loneliness hurts you more.
Society has tried to make arrangements so you can forget loneliness. Arranged marriages are just an effort so that you know your wife is with you. All religions resist divorce for the simple reason that if divorce is allowed then the basic purpose marriage was invented for is destroyed. The basic purpose was to give you a companion, a lifelong companion.
But even though a wife will be with you or a husband will be with you for your whole life, that does not mean that love remains the same. In fact, rather than giving you a companion, they give you a burden to carry. You were lonely, already in trouble, and now you have to carry another person who is lonely. And in this life there is no hope, because once love disappears you both are lonely, and both have to tolerate each other. Now it is not a question of being enchanted by each other; at the most you can patiently tolerate each other. Your loneliness has not been changed by the social strategy of marriage.
Religions have tried to make you a member of an organized body of religion so you are always in a crowd. You know that there are six hundred million Catholics; you are not alone, six hundred million Catholics are with you. Jesus Christ is your savior. God is with you. Alone you may have been wrong -- doubt may have arisen -- but six hundred million people cannot be wrong. A little support... but even that is gone because there are millions who are not Catholics. There are the people who crucified Jesus. There are people who don't believe in God -- and their number is not less than Catholics, it is more than Catholics. And there are other religions with different concepts.
It is difficult for an intelligent person not to doubt. You may have millions of people following a certain belief system, but still you cannot be certain that they are with you, that you are not lonely.
God was a device, but all devices have failed. It was a device... when nothing is there, at least God is with you. He is always everywhere with you. In the dark night of the soul, he is with you -- don't be worried.
It was good for a childish humanity to be deceived by this concept, but you cannot be deceived by this concept. This God who is always everywhere -- you don't see him, you can't talk to him, you can't touch him. You don't have any evidence for his existence -- except your desire that he should be there. But your desire is not a proof of anything.
God is only a desire of the childish mind.
Man has come of age, and God has become meaningless. The hypothesis has lost its grip.
What I am trying to say is that every effort that has been directed towards avoiding loneliness has failed, and will fail, because it is against the fundamentals of life. What is needed is not something in which you can forget your loneliness. What is needed is that you become aware of your aloneness, which is a reality. And it is so beautiful to experience it, to feel it, because it is your freedom from the crowd, from the other. It is your freedom from the fear of being lonely.
Just the word "lonely" immediately reminds you that it is like a wound: something is needed to fill it. There is a gap and it hurts: something needs to be filled in. The very word "aloneness" does not have the same sense of a wound, of a gap which has to be filled. Aloneness simply means completeness. You are whole; there is no need of anybody else to complete you.
So try to find your innermost center, where you are always alone, have always been alone. In life, in death -- wherever you are you will be alone. But it is so full -- it is not empty, it is so full and so complete and so overflowing with all the juices of life, with all the beauties and benedictions of existence, that once you have tasted aloneness the pain in the heart will disappear. Instead, a new rhythm of tremendous sweetness, peace, joy, bliss, will be there.
Friendship can be of two types. One is a friendship in which you are a beggar -- you need something from the other to help your loneliness -- and the other is also a beggar; he wants the same from you. And naturally two beggars cannot help each other. Soon they will see that their begging from a beggar has doubled or multiplied the need. Instead of one beggar, now there are two. And if, unfortunately, they have children, then there are a whole company of beggars who are asking -- and nobody has anything to give.
The other kind of friendship, the other kind of love, has a totally different quality. It is not of need, it is out of having so much that you want to share. A new kind of joy has come into your being -- that of sharing, which you were not ever aware of before. You have always been begging.
When you share, there is no question of clinging. You flow with existence, you flow with life's change, because it doesn't matter with whom you share. It can be the same person tomorrow -- the same person for your whole life -- or it can be different persons. It is not a contract, it is not a marriage; it is simply out of your fullness that you want to give. So whosoever happens to be near you, you give it. And giving is such a joy.
Begging is such a misery. Even if you get something through begging, you will remain miserable. It hurts. It hurts your pride, it hurts your integrity. But sharing makes you more centered, more integrated, more proud, but not more egoistic -- more proud that existence has been compassionate to you. It is not ego; it is a totally different phenomenon... a recognition that existence has allowed you something for which millions of people are trying, but at the wrong door. You happen to be at the right door.
You are proud of your blissfulness and all that existence has given to you. Fear disappears, darkness disappears, the pain disappears, the desire for the other disappears.
You can love a person, and if the person loves somebody else there will not be any jealousy, because you loved out of so much joy. It was not a clinging. You were not holding the other person in prison. You were not worried that the other person may slip out of your hands, that somebody else may start having a love affair...
So if anybody is thankful, you are thankful to the person who has accepted your love, who has accepted your gift. He has unburdened you, he allowed you to shower on him. And the more you share, the more you give, the more you have. So it does not make you a miser, it does not create a new fear that "I may lose it." In fact the more you lose it, the more fresh waters are flowing in from springs you have not been aware of before.
Forget loneliness, forget darkness, forget pain. These are just the absence of aloneness. The experience of aloneness will dispel them instantly. And the method is the same: just watch your mind, be aware. Become more and more conscious, so finally you are only conscious of yourself. That is the point where you become aware of aloneness.
You will be surprised that different religions have given different names to the ultimate state of realization. The three religions born outside of India don't have any name for it because they never went far in the search for oneself. They remained childish, immature, clinging to a God, clinging to prayer, clinging to a savior. You can see what I mean: they are always dependent -- somebody else is to save them. They are not mature. Judaism, Christianity, Islam -- they are not mature at all and perhaps that is the reason they have influenced the greatest majority in the world, because most of the people in the world are immature. They have a certain affinity.
But the three religions in India have three names for this ultimate state. And I remembered this because of the word aloneness. Jainism has chosen kaivalya, aloneness, as the ultimate state of being. Just as Buddhism chose nirvana, no-selfness, and Hinduism chose moksha, freedom, Jainism chose absolute aloneness. All three words are beautiful. They are three different aspects of the same reality. You can call it liberation, freedom; you can call it aloneness; you can call it selflessness, nothingness -- just different indicators towards that ultimate experience for which no name is sufficient.
But always look to see if anything that you are facing as a problem is a negative thing or a positive thing. If it is a negative thing then don't fight with it; don't bother about it at all. Just look for the positive of it, and you will be at the right door.
Most of the people in the world miss because they start fighting directly with the negative door.
There is no door; there is only darkness, there is only absence. And the more they fight, the more they find failure, the more they become dejected, pessimistic ... and ultimately they start finding that life has no meaning, that it is simply torture. But their mistake is they entered from the wrong door.
So before you face a problem, just look at the problem: is it an absence of something? And all your problems are the absence of something. And once you have found what they are the absence of, then go after the positive. And the moment you find the positive, the light -- the darkness is finished.
The Path of the Mystic, chapter 19
Why so much conflict between the different religions?
[Articles] > Why so much conflict between the different religions?
The world seems to be getting more and more crazy from day to day. nobody knows what is going on and everything is upside down and confused. this is what is told in the newspapers. is it real? and if so, is there any intrinsic balance in life which is keeping everything stable?
The world is the same; it has always been the same -- upside down, crazy, insane. In fact, only one thing new has happened in the world, and that is the awareness that we are crazy, that we are upside down, that something is basically wrong with us. And this is a great blessing -- this awareness. Of course it is only a beginning, just the abc of a long process, just a seed, but immensely pregnant. The world was never so aware of its insane ways as it is today. It has always been the same. In three thousand years man has fought five thousand wars.
Can you say this humanity is sane? One cannot remember a time in human history when people were not destroying each other either in the name of religion or in the name of God or even in the name of peace, humanity, universal brotherhood. Great words hiding ugly realities! Christians have been killing Mohammedans, Mohammedans have been killing Christians, Mohammedans have been killing Hindus, Hindus have been killing Mohammedans. Political ideologies, religious ideologies, philosophical ideologies are just facades for murder -- to murder in a justified way.
And all these religions were promising the people, "If you die in a religious war, your heaven is absolutely certain. Killing in war is not sin; being killed in war is a great virtue." This is sheer stupidity! But ten thousand years of conditioning has seeped deep into the blood, into the bones, in the very marrow of humanity. Each religion, each country, each race was claiming, "We are the chosen people of God. We are the highest; everyone is lower than us." This is insanity, and everybody has suffered because of it.
Jews have suffered immensely for one single folly that they committed: the idea that "We are the chosen people of God." Once you have the idea that you are the chosen people of God, then you cannot be forgiven by others because they are also the chosen people of God, and how to decide it? No argument can be conclusive, and nobody knows where God is hiding so you cannot ask him either; he cannot be brought in the court to be a witness. Then only the sword is going to decide. Whosoever is mighty is going to be right. Might has been right. Jews really suffered for centuries, but the suffering has not changed them. In fact it has strengthened the idea that they are the chosen people of God.
The same people who tell them, "You are the chosen people," also tell them that the chosen people have to go through many tests, many fires to prove their mettle. I have heard about an old rabbi -- he must have been a very sane man -- praying to God. He was praying for years and years and never asking for anything -- and you know, prayer is a kind of nagging: you go on nagging God every day, morning, afternoon, evening, night, five times every day. God must be getting tired, utterly bored....
And the rabbi was not asking for anything; otherwise there was a way out. If he had been asking for something it would have been given and the rabbi would have been told, "Get lost!" But he was not asking for anything, just praying. Finally God asked him, "Why do you go on torturing me? What do you want?" And the old rabbi said, "Just one thing. Is it not time for you to choose some other people? Please, make some other people your chosen people. We have suffered enough!"
But this is not only so with the Christians, Jews, Mohammedans and Hindus; it is exactly the same with all the people that have existed up to now. The racial ego, the religious ego, the spiritual ego is far more dangerous than the individual ego, because the individual ego is gross. You can see it -- everybody can see it, it is so visible on the surface. But when the ego becomes racial -- "Hinduism is great" -- you don't think you are claiming anything for yourself. Indirectly you are claiming, "I am great because I am a Hindu, and Hinduism is great." This is an indirect way, a subtle, cunning way: "I am great because I am a Japanese, because Japanese are the direct descendants of the sun God"; or, "I am a Chinese and the Chinese are the most civilized people, the most cultured."
When the Westerners reached China for the first time, looking at the Chinese, they laughed. They looked more like caricatures; cartoons rather than men -- just four or five hairs sticking out of your face and that's your whole beard! What kind of people are these? The first Europeans wrote in their diaries, "It seems we have discovered the missing link between the monkeys and man." And what were the Chinese writing in their journals?
Even the emperor of China was very much interested in seeing the Europeans because he had heard many stories about them. They were invited to his court, not because he respected the Europeans, but just to see what kind of people these were. Never before...! And he could not contain his laughter; he started laughing when he saw the Europeans. The Europeans were very much embarrassed: "Why is he laughing?" They were told, "That is his way of appreciating. He always laughs, enjoys; that is his way of welcoming the guests." But the reality was that he could not believe that these are human beings!
He asked his people, "Have you brought them from African jungles? They look like monkeys!" That's how the ego functions: the other is always reduced to the lowest possible; and compared to the other, one raises oneself higher. You say, "The world seems to be getting more and more crazy from day to day." That is not right; it has always been so.
Only one thing new is happening, and that is a blessing, not a curse at all. For the first time in the whole history of humanity, a few people are becoming aware that the way we have existed up to now is somehow wrong; something basically is missing in our very foundation.
There is something which does not allow us to grow into sane human beings. In our very conditioning are the seeds of insanity. Every child is born sane, and then, slowly slowly, we civilize him -- we call it the process of civilization. We prepare him to become part of the great culture, the great church, the great state to which we belong.
Our whole politics is stupid, and then he becomes stupid. Our whole education is ugly. Our politics means nothing but ambition, naked ambition -- ambition for power. And only the lowest kind of people become interested in power. Only the people who are suffering from a deep inferiority complex become politicians. They want to prove that they are not inferior; they want to prove it to others, they want to prove to themselves that they are not inferior, they are superior.
But what is the need to prove it if you are superior? The superior man does not try to prove anything, he is so at ease with his superiority. That's what Lao Tzu says: The superior man is not even conscious of his superiority; there is no need at all. It is only the ill person who starts thinking of health; the healthy person never thinks about health. The healthy person is not self-conscious about his health; only the sick, only the ill. The beautiful person, the really beautiful person is not self-conscious about his or her beauty. It is only the ugly person who is constantly worried and making every effort to prove that it is not so.
In fact, in proving to others that "I am not inferior, I am not ugly," he is trying to prove it to himself. The others function as a mirror. If the others can say, "Yes, you are great...." But they will say it only when you are powerful, when you are rich; otherwise they are not going to say anything. Who is interested in your ego? They are interested in their egos, but reluctantly, when you have power to destroy, they have to accept.
Adolf Hitler was mad, but nobody in Germany dared to say it. Many felt that he was mad, but the moment he was defeated and committed suicide, many people started writing that they had always felt it. Even his own physicians who had never dared to tell the person himself -- at least they were supposed to say the truth, they were the physicians -- they had not said that he was sick, badly sick, and not only physiologically but psychologically too.
He suffered from many nightmares, he was constantly afraid of being killed. He was obsessed with the idea that he was going to be killed, so much so that he never got married. He got married only when he had decided to commit suicide, just three hours before. To avoid having a woman in the same room, he never got married -- because who knows, the woman may be a spy, an enemy, and while he is asleep she may kill him, poison him.
He never trusted even the woman he pretended to love. He had no friends, because to be friendly with someone means to trust, and he was so doubtful. The politicians are insane, the priests are insane too....
Humanity has always been insane. It has always remained upside down and confused, because you have been brought up on lies. But one thing good is happening today: at least a few intelligent young people are becoming aware that our whole past has been wrong and it needs a radical change. "We need a discontinuity from our past. We want to start afresh, we need to start afresh. The whole past has been an experiment in utter futility!"
Once we accept the truth as it is, man can become sane. Man is born sane; we drive him crazy. Once we accept that there are no nations and no races, man will become very calm and quiet. All this continuous violence and aggression will disappear. If we accept man's body, its sexuality, naturally, then all kinds of stupidities preached in the name of religion will evaporate.
Ninety-nine percent of psychological diseases exist because of man's sexual repression. We have to make man free of his past. That's my whole work here: to help you to get rid of the past. Whatsoever the society has done to you has to be undone. Your consciousness has to be cleaned, emptied so that you can become like a pure mirror reflecting reality. To be able to reflect reality is to know God. God is just another name for reality: that which is. And a man is really sane when he knows the truth.
What is the meaning of Life?
[Karmasaya] > [Articles] > What is the meaning of Life?
[What is the true meaning of life?]
Life in itself has no meaning. Life is an opportunity to create meaning. Meaning has not to be discovered: it has to be created. You will find meaning only if you create it. It is not lying there somewhere behind the bushes, so you can go and you search a little bit and find it. It is not there like a rock that you will find. It is a poetry to be composed, it is a song to be sung, it is a dance to be danced.
Millions of people are living meaningless lives because of this utterly stupid idea that meaning has to be discovered. As if it is already there. All that you need is to just pull the curtain, and behold! meaning is here. It is not like that.
So remember: Buddha finds the meaning because he creates it. I found it because I created it. God is not a thing but a creation. And only those who create find. And it is good that meaning is not lying there somewhere, otherwise one person would have discovered it -- then what would be the need for everybody else to discover it?
Can't you see the difference between religious meaning and scientific meaning? Albert Einstein discovered the theory of relativity; now, do you have to discover it again and again? You will be foolish if you discover it again and again. What is the point? One man has done it; he has given you the map. It may have taken years for him, but for you to understand it will take hours. You can go to the university and learn.
Buddha also discovered something, Zarathustra also discovered something, but it is not like Albert Einstein's discovery. It is not there that you have just to follow Zarathustra and his map and you will find it. You will never find it. You will have to become a Zarathustra. See the difference!
To understand the theory of relativity, you need not become an Albert Einstein, no. You have to be just of average intelligence, that's all. If you are not too much retarded, you will understand it.
But to understand the meaning of Zarathustra, you will have to become a Zarathustra -- less than that won't do. You will have to create it again. And each individual has to give birth to God, to meaning, to truth; each man has to become pregnant with it and pass through the pains of birth. Each one has to carry it in one's womb, feed it by one's own blood, and only then does one discover.
You must be waiting passively for the meaning to come... it will never come. This has been the idea of the past religions, that the meaning is already there. It is not! Freedom is there to create it, energy is there to create it. The field is there to sow the seeds and reap the crop. All is there -- but the meaning has to be created. That's why to create it is such a joy, such an adventure, such an ecstasy.
So the first thing: religion has to be creative. Up to now, religion has remained very passive, almost impotent. You don't expect a religious person to be creative. You just expect him to fast, sit in a cave, get up early in the morning, chant mantras... and this kind of stupid thing. And you are perfectly satisfied! What is he doing? And you praise him because he goes on long fasts. Maybe he is a masochist; maybe he enjoys torturing himself. He sits there when it is icy cold, naked, and you appreciate him. But what is the point, what is the value in it? All the animals of the world are naked in the icy cold -- they are not saints. Or when it is hot, he sits in the hot sun, and you appreciate him. You say, "Look! here is a great ascetic." But what is he doing? What is his contribution to the world? What beauty has he added to the world? Has he changed the world a little bit? Has he made it a little more sweet, more fragrant? No, you don't ask that.
Now, I tell you, this has to be asked: Praise a man because he has created a song. Praise a man because he has created a beautiful sculpture. Praise a man because he plays such a beautiful flute. Let these be religious qualities from now onwards. Praise a man because he is such a lover -- love is religion. Praise a man: because of him the world is becoming more graceful.
Forget all these stupid things! -- fasting and just sitting in a cave, torturing oneself or lying down on a bed of nails. Praise a man because he has cultivated beautiful roses. The world is more colorful because of him. And then you will find meaning.
Meaning comes out of creativity. Religion has to become more poetic, more aesthetic.
And second thing: sometimes it happens that you search for the meaning because you have already concluded. Out of a conclusion you search for it. You have already decided what meaning should be there, or has to be there... and then you don't find it.
The inquiry has to be pure. What do I mean when I say the inquiry has to be pure? It should be without any conclusion. It should not have any a priori in it.
What meaning are you looking for? You must be looking for a certain meaning. You will not find it -- because from the very beginning your inquiry is polluted, your inquiry is impure. You have already decided.
For example, if a man comes into my garden and thinks if he can find a diamond there then this garden is beautiful, and he cannot find the diamond, so he says there is no meaning in the garden.... And there are so many beautiful flowers, and so many birds singing, and so many colors, and the wind blowing through the pines, and the moss on the rocks. But he cannot see any meaning because he has a certain idea: he has to find the diamond, a Kohinoor -- only then will there be meaning.
He is missing meaning because of his idea. Let your inquiry be pure. Don't move with any fixed idea. Go naked and nude. Go open and empty. And you will find not only one meaning -- you will find a thousand and one meanings. Then each thing will become meaningful. Just a colored stone shining in the rays of the sun... or a dewdrop creating a small rainbow around itself... or just a small flower dancing in the wind.... What meaning are you searching for?
Don't start with a conclusion, otherwise you have started wrongly from the very beginning. Go without a conclusion! That's what I mean when I say again and again: Go without knowledge if you want to find truth. The knowledgeable person never finds it. His knowledge is a barrier.
Goldstein had never been to a show in the legitimate theater. For his birthday, his children decided to give him a present of a ticket for the Jewish theater.
The night after the show, they came to visit him and asked him eagerly what he thought of the show.
"Ash," he answered, "it was simply nonsense. When she was willing, he wasn't willing. And when he was willing, she wasn't willing. And when they both were willing, down came the curtain!"
Now, if you have a fixed idea, then you are only looking for it, only looking for it.... And because of this narrowness of the mind, all that is available is missed.
Meaning has to be created. And meaning has to be searched for without any conclusions. If you can drop your knowledge, life will suddenly take on color, it will become psychedelic. But you are continuously carrying the load of your scriptures, books, theories, doctrines, philosophies... you are lost in all that. And everything has become mixed, hotchpotch. And you cannot even remember what is what.
Your mind is a mess. Clean it! Make it a blank. The empty mind is the best mind. And those who have been telling you that the empty mind is the Devil's workshop are the Devil's agents. The empty mind is closer to God than anything. The empty mind is not the Devil's workshop. The Devil cannot do without thoughts.
With emptiness the Devil cannot do anything at all. He has no way Into emptiness.
So many thoughts in the mind, mixed up; nothing seems to be clear; you have heard so many things from so many sources -- your mind is a monster. And you are trying to remember, and you have been told to remember: Don't forget! And, naturally, the burden is so much that you cannot remember. Many things you have forgotten. Many things you have imagined and added on your own.
An Englishman visiting America attended a banquet and heard the Master of Ceremonies give the following toast:
"Here's to the happiest moment of my life,
Spent in the arms of another man's wife -- my mother."
"By Jove, that's ripping," the Englishman thought to himself. "I must remember to use it back home."
Some weeks later when he returned to England, he attended a church luncheon and was asked to give a toast. In thunderous tones he addressed the crowded room:
"Here's to the happiest moment of my life,
Spent in the arms of another man's wife..."
After a long pause the crowd began to grow restless, glaring at the speaker indignantly. The speaker's friend sitting next to him whispered, "You had better explain yourself quickly."
"By Jove," the speaker blurted out, "you will have to excuse me. I forgot the name of the "blooming" woman."
That is happening. You remember this -- Plato has said this. And you remember that -- Lao Tzu has said that. And you remember what Jesus has said, and what Mohammed has said... and you remember many things. And they have all got mixed up. And you have not said a single thing on your own. Unless you say something on your own, you will miss the meaning.
Drop the knowledge and become more creative. Remember, knowledge is gathered -- you need not be creative about it; you have only to be receptive. And that's what man has become: man is reduced to being a spectator. He reads the newspapers, he reads the Bible and the Koran and the Gita; he goes to the movie, sits there and sees the movie; he goes to the football match, or sits before his TV, listens to the radio... and so on and so forth. Twenty-four hours a day he is just in a kind of inactivity, a spectator. Others are doing things, and he is simply watching. You will not find meaning by watching.
You can see a thousand and one lovers making love and you will not know what love is -- you will not know that orgasmic abandonment by watching. You will have to become a participant. Meaning comes through participation. Participate in life! Participate as deeply, as totally, as possible. Risk all for participation. If you want to know what dance is, don't go and see a dancer -- learn dancing, be a dancer. If you want to know anything, participate! That is the true and the right way, the authentic way, to know a thing. And there will be great meaning in your life. And not only one-dimensional -- multi-dimensional meanings. You will be showered by meanings.
And life has to be multi-dimensional, then only is there meaning. Never make life one-dimensional. That too is a problem.
Somebody becomes an engineer, and then he thinks all is finished. He becomes identified with being an engineer. Then his whole life he is just an engineer. And there were millions of things available. But he moves only on one track, becomes bored. Is fed up. Is tired, wearied. Goes on dragging. Waits only for death. What meaning can there be?
Have more interests in life. Don't be always a businessman. Sometimes play too. Don't be just a doctor or an engineer, or a headmaster, or a professor -- be as many things as possible! Play cards, play the violin, sing a song, be an amateur photographer, a poet.... Find as many things as possible in life, and then you will have richness. And meaning is a by-product of richness.
Socrates, while awaiting death in prison, was haunted by a dream that kept urging him, "Socrates, make music!" The old man felt he had always served art with his philosophizing. But now, spurred on by that mysterious voice, he turned fables into verse, indited a hymn to Apollo, and played the flute.
In the face of death, philosophy and music briefly went hand in hand, and Socrates was as blissful as never before.
He had never played on the flute. Something inside him persisted, "Socrates, make music!" Just in the face of death! It looked so ridiculous. And he had never played, he had never made music. A part of his being had remained suffocated. Yes, even a man like Socrates, had remained one-dimensional. The denied part insisted, "Enough of logic -- a little music will be good, will bring balance. Enough of argumentation -- play on the flute." And the voice was so persistent that he had to yield to it.
His disciples must have been puzzled: "Has he gone mad? Socrates playing on the flute?" But to me it is very significant. The music could not have been very great, because he had never played. Absolutely amateurish, childish it must have been -- but still something was satisfied, something was bridged. He was no more one-sided. For the first time in his life, maybe, he was spontaneous. For the first time he had done something for which he could not supply any reason. Otherwise, he was a rational man.
Just the other night I was reading a story about the great Hassidic mystic, Baal Shem:
It was a holiday, and the Hassidim had gathered to pray and to have a communion -- sat sang -- with the Master.
A man had come with his retarded child. He was a little worried about the child, the boy. He may do something, so he was keeping an eye on the boy. When the prayers were said, the boy asked his father, "I have got a whistle -- can I play on it?"
The father said, "Absolutely no -- where is your whistle," because he was afraid. He may not even listen to his "no." He showed the whistle and the father kept his hand on his pocket, the boy's pocket. Then there was dancing, and the father forgot and he also started dancing. And Hassids are dancers, joyous people -- the cream of Judaism, the very essence of Judaism is with them, with those mad people.
When everybody was praying to God and dancing, suddenly the boy could not resist any more. He took out his whistle and blew on it. Everybody was shocked! But Baal Shem came, hugged the boy, and said, "Our prayers are heard. Without this whistle, all was futile -- because this was the only spontaneous thing here. All else was ritual."
Don't allow your life to become just a dead ritual. Let there be moments, unexplainable. Let there be a few things which are mysterious, for which you cannot supply any reason. Let there be a few doings for which people will think you are a little crazy. A man who is a hundred percent sane is dead. A little bit of craziness by the side is always a great joy. Go on doing a few crazy things too. And then meaning will be posible.
Osho, The Perfect Master, Volume 2, Chapter 4
Why is love so painful?
Love is painful because it creates the way for bliss. Love is painful because it transforms; love is mutation. Each transformation is going to be painful because the old has to be left for the new. The old is familiar, secure, safe, the new is absolutely unknown. You will be moving in an uncharted ocean. You cannot use your mind with the new; with the old, the mind is skillful. The mind can function only with the old; with the new, the mind is utterly useless.
Hence, fear arises, and leaving the old, comfortable, safe world, the world of convenience, pain arises. It is the same pain that the child feels when he comes out of the womb of the mother. It is the same pain that the bird feels when he comes out of the egg. It is the same pain that the bird will feel when he will try for the first time to be on the wing.
The fear of the unknown, and the security of the known, the insecurity of the unknown, the unpredictability of the unknown, makes one very much frightened.
And because the transformation is going to be from the self towards a state of no-self, agony is very deep. But you Cannot have ecstasy without going through agony. If the gold wants to be purified, it has to pass through fire.
It is because of the pain of love, millions of people live a loveless life. They too suffer, and their suffering is futile. To suffer in love is not to suffer in vain. To suffer in love is creative; it takes you to higher levels of consciousness. To suffer without love is utterly a waste; it leads you nowhere, it keeps you moving in the same vicious circle.
The man who is without love is narcissistic, he is closed. He knows only himself. And how much can he know himself if he has not known the other, because only the other can function as a mirror? You will never know yourself without knowing the other. Love is very fundamental for self-knowledge too. The person who has not known the other in deep love, in intense passion, in utter ecstasy, will not be able to know who he is, because he will not have the mirror to see his own reflection.
Relationship is a mirror, and the purer the love is, the higher the love is, the better the mirror, the cleaner the mirror. But the higher love needs that you should be open. The higher love needs you to be vulnerable. You have to drop your armor; that is painful. You have not to be constantly on guard. You have to drop the calculating mind. You have to risk. You have to live dangerously. The other can hurt you; that is the fear in being vulnerable. The other can reject you; that is the fear in being in love.
The reflection that you will find in the other of your own self may be ugly; that is the anxiety. Avoid the mirror. But by avoiding the mirror you are not going to become beautiful. By avoiding the situation you are not going to grow either. The challenge has to be taken.
One has to go into love. That is the first step towards God, and it cannot be bypassed. Those who try to bypass the step of love will never reach God. That is absolutely necessary because you become aware of your totality only when you are provoked by the presence of the other, when your presence is enhanced by the presence of the other, when you are brought out of your narcissistic, closed world under the open sky.
Love is an open sky. To be in love is to be on the wing. But certainly, the unbounded sky creates fear.
And to drop the ego is very painful because we have been taught to cultivate the ego. We think the ego is our only treasure. We have been protecting it, we have been decorating it, we have been continuously polishing it, and when love knocks on the door, all that is needed to fall in love is to put aside the ego; certainly it is painful. It is your whole life's work, it is all that you have created -- this ugly ego, this idea that "I am separate from existence. "
The truth is that there is no person at all in the world; there is only presence. You are not -- not as an ego, separate from the whole. You are part of the whole. The whole penetrates you, the whole breathes in you, pulsates in you, the whole is your life.
Love gives you the first experience of being in tune with something that is not your ego. Love gives you the first lesson that you can fall into harmony with someone who has never been part of your ego. If you can be in harmony with a woman, if you can be in harmony with a friend, with a man, if you can be in harmony with your child or with your mother, why can't you be in harmony with all human beings? And if to be in harmony with a single person gives such joy, what will be the outcome if you are in harmony with all human beings? And if you can be in harmony with all human beings, why can't you be in harmony with animals and birds and trees? Then one step leads to another.
Love is a ladder. It starts with one person, it ends with the totality. Love is the beginning, God is the end. To be afraid of love, to be afraid of the growing pains of love, is to remain enclosed in a dark cell.
Modern man is living in a dark cell; it is narcissistic. Narcissism is the greatest obsession of the modern mind.
And then there are problems, problems which are meaningless. There are problems which are creative because they lead you to higher awareness. There are problems which lead you nowhere; they simply keep you tethered, they simply keep you in your old mess.
Love creates problems. You can avoid those problems by avoiding love. But those are very essential problems! They have to be faced, encountered; they have to be lived and gone through and gone beyond. And to go beyond, the way is through. Love is the only real thing worth doing. All else is secondary. If it helps love, it is good. All else is just a means, love is the end. So whatsoever the pain, go into love.
If you don't go into love, as many people have decided, then you are stuck with yourself. Then your life is not a pilgrimage, then your life is not a river going to the ocean; your life is a stagnant pool, dirty, and soon there will be nothing but dirt and mud. To keep clean, one needs to keep flowing. A river remains clean because it goes on flowing. Flow is the process of remaining continuously virgin.
A lover remains a virgin. All lovers are virgin. The people who don't love cannot remain virgin; they become dormant, stagnant; they start stinking sooner or later -- and sooner than later -- because they have nowhere to go. Their life is dead.
That's where modern man finds himself, and because of this, all kinds of neuroses, all kinds of madnesses, have become rampant. Psychological illness has taken epidemic proportions. It is no more that a few individuals are psychologically ill; the reality is the whole earth has become a madhouse. The whole of humanity is suffering from a kind of neurosis.
And that neurosis is coming from your narcissistic stagnancy. Everyone is stuck with one's own illusion of having a separate self; then people go mad. And this madness is meaningless, unproductive, uncreative. Or people start committing suicide. Those suicides are also unproductive, uncreative.
You may not commit suicide by taking poison or jumping from a cliff or by shooting yourself, but you can commit a suicide which is a very slow process, and that's what happens. Very few people commit suicide suddenly. Others have decided for a slow suicide; gradually, slowly, slowly they die. But almost, the tendency to be suicidal has become universal.
This is no way to live, and the reason, the fundamental reason, is we have forgotten the language of love. We are no more courageous enough to go into that adventure called love.
Hence people are interested in sex, because sex is not risky. It is momentary, you don't get involved. Love is involvement; it is commitment. It is not momentary. Once it takes roots, it can be forever. It can be a lifelong involvement. Love needs intimacy, and only when you are intimate does the other become a mirror. When you meet sexually with a woman or a man, you have not met at all; in fact, you avoided the soul of the other person. You just used the body and escaped, and the other used your body and escaped. You never became intimate enough to reveal each other's original faces.
Love is the greatest Zen koan.
It is painful, but don't avoid it. If you avoid it you have avoided the greatest opportunity to grow. Go into it, suffer love, because through the suffering comes great ecstasy. Yes, there is agony, but out of the agony, ecstasy is born. Yes, you will have to die as an ego, but if you can die as an ego, you will be born as God, as a Buddha. And love will give you the first tongue-tip-taste of Tao, of Sufism, of Zen. Love will give you the first proof that God is, that life is not meaningless.
The people who say life is meaningless are the people who have not known love. All that they are saying is that their life has missed love.
Let there be pain, let there be suffering. Go through the dark night, and you will reach to a beautiful sunrise. It is only in the womb of the dark night that the sun evolves. It is only through the dark night that the morning comes.
My whole approach here is that of love. I teach only love and only love and nothing else. You can forget about God; that is just an empty word. You can forget about prayers because they are only rituals imposed by others on you. Love is the natural prayer, not imposed by anybody. You are born with it. Love is the true God -- not the God of theologians, but the God of Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, the God of the Sufis. Love is a tariqa, a method, to kill you as a separate individual and to help you become the infinite. Disappear as a dewdrop and become the ocean, but you will have to pass through the door of love.
And certainly when one starts disappearing like a dewdrop, and one has lived long as a dewdrop, it hurts, because one has been thinking, "I am this, and now this is going. I am dying. " You are not dying, but only an illusion is dying. You have become identified with the illusion, true, but the illusion is still an illusion. And only when the illusion is gone will you be able to see who you are. And that revelation brings you to the ultimate peak of joy, bliss, celebration.
Osho, The Secret, chapter 2
Obstacles to Happiness
coming could be the most important minutes in your lives. If you could
grasp this, you'd hit upon the secret of awakening. You would be happy
forever. You would never be unhappy again. Nothing would have the power
paint in the air, the air remains uncontaminated. You never color the air
remain at peace. There are human beings who have attained this, what I
way and that way, letting events or other people tell you how to feel. So
he's saying, "Well, look at my classmates, they've really made it." The
idiot! What does he mean, "They made it"? They've got their names in the
newspaper. Do you call that making it? One is president of the
corporation; the other has become the Chief Justice; somebody else has
become this or that. Monkeys, all of them.
Who determines what it means to be a success? This stupid society! The
main preoccupation of society is to keep society sick! And the sooner you
realize that, the better. Sick, every one of them. They are loony,
they're crazy. You became president of the lunatic asylum and you're proud of it even though it means nothing. Being president of a corporation has
you wake up! Then you don't have to apologize to anyone, you don't have to explain anything to anyone, you don't give a damn what anybody thinks about you or what anybody says about you. You have no worries; you're
happiness or success. Nothing! It is totally irrelevant. All he's really worried about is what his children will think about him, what the neighbors will think about him, what his wife will think about him. He should have
themselves. Because they drained all their energy getting something that
was worthless. They're frightened and confused, they are puppets like the
rest. Look at them strutting across the stage. Look how upset they get if they have a stain on their shirt. Do you call that a success? Look at how frightened they are at the prospect they might not be reelected. Do you
call that a success? They are controlled, so manipulated. They are
unhappy people, they are miserable people. They don't enjoy life. They
are constantly tense and anxious. Do you call that human? And do you know why that happens? Only one reason: They identified with some label. They
identified the "I" with their money or their job or their profession. That was their error.
Did you hear about the lawyer who was presented with a plumber's bill? He
said to the plumber, "Hey, you're charging me two hundred dollars an
hour. I don't make that kind of money as a lawyer." The plumber said, "I
didn't make that kind of money when I was a lawyer either!" You could be a plumber or a lawyer or a business man or a priest, but that does not affect the essential "I." It doesn't affect you. If I change my profession
tomorrow, it's just like changing my clothes. I am untouched. Are you
your clothes? Are you your name? Are you your profession? Stop
identifying with them. They come and go.
or praise can affect you either. When someone says, "You're a great guy,"
"I." "I" is neither great nor small. "I" is neither successful nor a
failure. It is none of these labels. These things come and go. These
things depend on the criteria society establishes. These things depend on
your conditioning. These things depend on the mood of the person who
"I." "I" is none of these labels. "Me" is generally selfish, foolish,
childish -- a great big ass. So when you say, "You're an ass," I've known
it for years! The conditioned self -- what did you expect? I've known it
happiness. You say to the awakened person, "Why are you happy?" and the
Happiness is our natural state. Happiness is the natural state of little
children, to whom the kingdom belongs until they have been polluted and
contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture. To acquire happiness you don't have to do anything, because happiness cannot be acquired. Does
you already have? Then why don't you experience it? Because you've got to drop something. You've got to drop illusions. You don't have to add
Do you know where these things come from? From
Only a Ripe Fruit Falls
Osho: One of the greatest problems...it will appear very paradoxical, but this is true: before you can lose your ego, you must attain it. Only a ripe fruit falls to the ground.
Ripeness is all. An unripe ego cannot be thrown, cannot be destroyed. And if you struggle with an unripe ego to destroy and dissolve it, the whole effort is going to be a failure. Rather than destroying it, you will find it more strengthened in new subtle ways.
This is something basic to be understood: the ego must come to a peak, it must be strong, it must have attained an integrity -- only then can you dissolve it. A weak ego cannot be dissolved. And this becomes a problem.
In the East, all the religions preach egolessness. So in the East, everybody is against the ego from the very beginning. Because of this anti-attitude, ego never becomes strong, never comes to a point of integration from where it can be thrown. It is never ripe. So in the East it is very difficult to dissolve the ego, almost impossible.
In the West, the whole Western tradition of religion and psychology propounds, preaches, persuades people, to have strong egos -- because unless you have a strong ego, how can you survive? Life is a struggle; if you are egoless, you will be destroyed. Then who will resist? Who will fight? Who will compete? And life is a continuous competition. Western psychology says: Attain to the ego, be strong in it.
But in the West it is very easy to dissolve the ego. So whenever a Western seeker reaches to an understanding that ego is the problem, he can easily dissolve it, more easily than any Eastern seeker.
This is the paradox: in the West ego is taught; in the East egolessness is taught. But in the West it is easy to dissolve the ego; in the East it is very difficult.
This is going to be a hard task for you, first to attain and then to lose -- because you can lose only something which you possess. If you don't possess it, how can you lose it?
Only a rich man can become poor, because you can lose only that which you have. If you have never been rich, how can you be poor? Your poverty will be just on the surface; it can never be in the spirit. On the surface you will be poor, and deep down you will be hankering after riches. Your spirit will hanker towards riches, it will be an ambition, it will be a constant desire to attain riches. Only on the surface will you be poor. And you may even console yourself by saying that poverty is good.
But you cannot be poor -- only a rich man, a really rich man, can be poor. Just to have riches is not enough to be really rich. You may still be poor. If the ambition is still there, you are poor.
What you have is not the point. If you have enough then the desire disappears. When you have enough riches, the desire disappears. Disappearance of the desire is the criterion of enoughness. Then you are rich -- you can drop it, you can become poor, you can become a beggar like Buddha. And then your poverty is rich; then your poverty has a kingdom of its own.
And the same happens with everything. Upanishads or Lao Tzu or Jesus or Buddha -- they all teach that knowledge is useless. Just getting more and more knowledgeable is not much help. Not only is it not much help, it can become a barrier.
Knowledge is not needed, but that doesn't mean you should remain ignorant. Your ignorance will not be real. When you have gathered enough knowledge and you throw it, then ignorance is attained. Then you really become ignorant -- like Socrates who can say: I know only one thing, that I don't know anything.
This knowledge, or this ignorance -- you can call it whatever you like -- is totally different, the quality is different, the dimension has changed.
If you are simply ignorant because you never attained to any knowledge, your ignorance cannot be wise, it cannot be wisdom -- it is simply absence of knowledge. And the hankering will be inside: How to gain more knowledge? How to gain more information?
When you know too much -- you have known the scriptures, you have known the past, the tradition, you have known all that can be known -- then suddenly you become aware of the futility of it all, suddenly you become aware that this is not knowledge. This is borrowed! This is not your own existential experience, this is not what you have come to know. Others may have known it, you have simply gathered it. Your gathering is mechanical. It has not arisen out of you, it is not a growth. It is just rubbish gathered from other doors, borrowed, dead.
Remember, knowing is alive only when you know, when it is your immediate, direct experience. But when you know from others it is just memory, not knowledge. Memory is dead.
When you gather much -- the riches of knowledge, scriptures, all around you, libraries condensed in your mind, and suddenly you become aware that you are just carrying the burden of others, nothing belongs to you, you have not known -- then you can drop it, you can drop all this knowledge. In that dropping a new type of ignorance arises within you. This ignorance is not the ignorance of the ignorant, this is how a wise man is, how wisdom is.
Only a wise man can say: I don't know. But in saying: I don't know, he is not hankering after knowledge, he is simply stating a fact. And when you can say with your total heart: I don't know, in that very moment your eyes become open, the doors of knowing are open. In that very moment when you can say with your totality; I don't know, you have become capable of knowledge.
This ignorance is beautiful, but it is attained through knowledge. It is poverty attained through richness. And the same happens with ego -- you can lose it if you have it.
When Buddha comes down from his throne, becomes a beggar...what is the necessity for Buddha? He was a king, enthroned, at the peak of his ego -- why this extreme, moving down from his palace to the streets, becoming a beggar? But Buddha has a beauty in his begging. The earth has never known such a beautiful beggar, such a rich beggar, such a kingly beggar, such an emperor.
What happened when he stepped down from his throne? He stepped down from his ego. Thrones are nothing but symbols, symbols of the ego, of power, prestige, status. He stepped down and then egolessness happened.
This egolessness is not humbleness; this egolessness is not humility. You may find many humble people, but under their humility, subtle egos are functioning.
It is said that once Diogenes came to visit Socrates. He lived like a beggar; he always wore dirty clothes with many patches and holes. Even if you presented him with a new dress, he would not use it -- first he would make it dirty, old, torn, and then he would use it.
He came to visit Socrates, and he started talking about egolessness. But Socrates' penetrating eyes must have come to realize that this man was not an egoless man. The way he was talking about humility was very egoistic.
Socrates is reported to have said: Through your dirty clothes, through the holes in your clothes, I cannot see anything else but the ego. You talk of humility, but that talk comes from a deep centre of the ego.
This will happen, this is how hypocrisy happens. You have the ego, you hide it through the opposite; you become humble on the surface. This surface humbleness cannot deceive anyone. It may deceive you, but it cannot deceive anyone else. From the holes of the dirty dresses, your ego goes on peeping. It is always there. This is a self-deception and nothing more. Nobody else is deceived. This happens if you start throwing the unripe ego.
What I teach will look contradictory, but it is true to life. Contradiction is inherent in life. I teach you to be egoists so that you can become egoless. I teach you to be perfect egoists. Don't hide it, otherwise hypocrisy will be born. And don't struggle with the unripe phenomenon. Let it ripen -- and help it. Bring it to a peak!
Don't be afraid -- there is nothing to be afraid of. This is how you will come to realize the agony of the ego. When it comes to its peak, then you will not need a Buddha or me to tell you that the ego is hell. You will know it, because the peak of the ego will be the peak of your hellish experiences, it will be a nightmare. And then there is no need for anybody to tell you: Drop it! It will be difficult to carry it on.
One reaches to knowledge only through suffering. You cannot throw anything just by logical argument. You can throw something only when it has become so painful that it cannot be carried any further. Your ego has not become that painful yet -- hence you carry it. It is natural! I cannot persuade you to drop it. Even if you feel persuaded, you will hide it -- that's all.
Nothing unripe can be thrown. Unripe fruit clings to the tree and the tree clings to the unripe fruit. If you force it to separate, a wound is left behind. That scar will continue, the wound will always remain green and you will always feel hurt.
Remember, everything has a time to grow, to be ripe, to fall down into the earth and dissolve. Your ego also has a time. It needs maturity.
So don't be afraid of being egoists. You ARE, otherwise you would have disappeared long ago. This is the mechanism of life: you have to be egoists, you have to fight your way, you have to fight with so many millions of desires around you, you have to struggle, you have to survive.
Ego is a survival measure. If a child is born without the ego, he will die. He cannot survive, it is impossible, because if he feels hunger he will not feel: I am hungry. He will feel there is hunger, but not related to him. The moment hunger is felt, the child feels: I am hungry, he starts crying and making efforts to be fed. The child grows through the growth of his ego.
So to me, ego is part of natural growth. But that doesn't mean that you have to remain with it forever. It is a natural growth, and then there is a second step when it has to be dropped. That too is natural. But the second step can be taken only when the first has come to its crescendo, its climax, when the first has reached its peak. So I teach both -- I teach egoness and I teach egolessness.
First be egoists, perfect egoists, absolute egoists, as if the whole of existence exists for you and you are the center; all the stars revolve around you and the sun rises for you; everything exists for you, just to help you to be here. Be the center, and don't be afraid, because if you are afraid then you will never be ripe. Accept it! It is part of growth. Enjoy it and bring it to a peak.
When it comes to a peak, suddenly you will become aware that you are not the center. This has been a fallacy, this has been a childish attitude. But you were a child, so nothing is wrong in it. Now you have become mature, and now you see that you are not the center.
Really, when you see that you are not the center, you also see there is NO center in existence or everywhere is the center. Either there is no center and existence exists as a totality, a wholeness without any center as a control point or every single atom is a center.
Jakob Boehme has said that the whole world is filled with centers, every atom is a center, and there is no circumference -- centers everywhere and circumference nowhere.
These two are the possibilities. Both mean the same; only the wording is different and contradictory. But first become a center.
It is like this: you are in a dream; if the dream comes to a peak, it will be broken. Always it happens -- whenever a dream comes to a climax, it is broken. And what is the climax of a dream? The climax of a dream is the feeling that this is real. You feel this is real, not a dream, and you go on and on and on and on to a higher peak and the dream becomes ALMOST real. It can never become real; it becomes almost real. It comes so close to reality that now you cannot go further, because one step more and the dream will become real -- and it cannot become real because it is a dream! When it comes so close to reality, sleep is broken, the dream is shattered, you are fully awake.
The same happens with all types of fallacies. Ego is the greatest dream. It has its beauty, its agony. It has its ecstasy, its agony. It has its heavens and hells, both are there. Dreams sometimes are beautiful and sometimes nightmares, but both are dreams.
So I don't tell you to come out of your dream before the time has come. No, never do anything before the time. Allow things to grow, allow things to have their time, so that everything happens naturally.
Ego will drop. It can drop of its own accord also. If you simply allow it to grow and help it to grow, there will be NO need to drop it.
This is very deep. If YOU drop it, ego has remained inside. WHO will drop it? If you think YOU will drop it, YOU are the ego -- so whatsoever you drop will not be the real thing. The real thing will be preserved and you will have thrown something else.
You cannot make yourself egoless. Who will do it? It happens, it is not a doing. You grow into ego and a point comes when the whole thing becomes so hellish that the dream is broken. Suddenly you see the goose is out -- it has never been in the bottle.
In life everything is necessary. Nothing is unnecessary, nothing can be unnecessary. Whatsoever has happened had to happen. Whatsoever is happening is happening because of certain deep causes. You need it so you can remain in the fallacy. It is just a cocoon that helps you, protects you, helps you to survive. One need not be in the cocoon forever. When you are ready, break the cocoon, come out.
The ego is the shell of the egg, it protects you. But when you are ready, break the shell, come out of the egg. The ego is the shell.
Go to the so-called saints -- they talk of humbleness, humility -- and look into their eyes: you will not find such refined egos anywhere else. Now their egos have taken the garb of religion, Yoga, sainthood, but the ego is there. They may not be collecting riches, they may be collecting followers; the coins have changed and they go on counting how many followers....
They may not be after the things of this world, they are after the things of that world, but this or that, both are worlds. And they may be even more greedy, because they say these temporary things, momentary things of this world, consist of momentary pleasures -- and they want eternal pleasures. Their greed is supreme. They cannot be satisfied by momentary pleasures. They want eternal pleasures. Unless something is eternal they are not gratified. Their greed is deep, their greed is absolute and greed belongs to the ego. Greed is the hunger of the ego.
So it happens sometimes that saints are more egoistic than sinners, and then they are far away from the divine. And sometimes sinners can attain to the god more easily than those so-called saints, because ego is the barrier.
This has been my experience that sinners can drop their egos more easily than saints, because sinners have never been against the ego. They have been feeding it, they have been enjoying it, they have lived with it totally. And saints have always been fighting the ego, so they never allowed it to become ripe.
This is the arduousness of the whole phenomenon, because the mind says: If we have to drop it, then why cultivate it? The mind says: When we have to destroy it, then why create it? If you listen to the mind you will be in trouble. Mind is always logical and life is always illogical, so they never meet.
This is simple logic, ordinary mathematics, that if you are to destroy this house, then why build it? Why this whole trouble? Why this effort and waste of time and energy? The house is not there, so why build it and then destroy it?
The house is not the point really -- YOU are the point. Building the house, you will change, and then destroying the house you will change completely, you will not be the same -- because creating the house, the whole process of it, will prove a growth to you. Then, when the house is ready, you pull it down. That will be a mutation.
Mind is logical and life is dialectical. Mind moves in a simple line, and life moves always jumping from one pole to another, from one thing to the very opposite.
Life is dialectical. Create, and then life says: Destroy. Be born, and then life says: Die! Attain, and then life says: Lose! Be rich, and then life says: Become poor! Be a peak, an Everest of the ego, and then become an abyss of egolessness. Then you have known both -- the illusory and the real, the maya and the Brahma.
Almost every day it happens: somebody comes to be initiated into sannyas, and then his mind starts functioning and he says to me: Wearing orange will make me more egoistic, because then I will feel that I am somebody different, distinct -- I am a sannyasin, one who has renounced. So wearing orange will make me more egoistic he says, and I say to him: Become! Become egoistic, but consciously.
Ego is a disease if you are unconscious about it, if you hide it in the unconscious. Ego is a game if you are conscious about it. You can enjoy it. You can play it. Be conscious, mindful, and play the game! A game is not bad, but when you forget that it is a game and become too serious, then problems arise.
If somebody says: I am not going to follow this rule, then you cannot play the game. You play cards, then you follow rules. And you never say: These rules are just arbitrary, artificial, why can't we change them? You can change them, but then the game will be difficult. And if every individual follows his own rules, then the game is impossible. Life is possible! You can play as you like because life never believes in rules -- it is beyond rules. But games have rules.
Remember: wherever you see rules, know immediately this is a game. This is the criterion: wherever you see rules, immediately know this is a game, because games exist through rules.
So if I say: "Wear orange, have the mala" -- this is a game, obviously. Play it as well as you can and don't be serious about it -- otherwise you miss the point.
Be egoists -- perfect, cultivated, refined. Go on working on your ego and make it a beautiful statue, because before you give it back to the god, it must be something worth giving, it must be a present.
My Way: The Way of the White Clouds, Chapter #8, 17th May 1974
I have heard, a man in an orange robe entered the Vrindavan juice bar, barged up to the front of the line, and demanded tea and cake. He paid with a hundred-rupee note and complained about the cost and the long lineup. After choosing the biggest piece of cake and the biggest cup, he took over an old lady's seat and proceeded to gobble the food. A bystander, puzzled by his behavior, asked the meaning of it.
There is more possibility to misunderstand me than to understand me. And in misunderstanding, you will find much solace, much consolation.
Just the other day, Mulla Nasrudin came to me, and he said, "Enough is enough -- I cannot trust you anymore."
He said, "Now it is too much. Just the other day I was at the racetrack. Somebody's change had fallen, so I was picking it up, and there comes a blind, or mad or drunk guy, and he saddles me as if I am a horse."
He said, "But you have said accept everything, so I said Osho says accept totally. So I accept it and I try to see now what happens -- and the madman jumps on me."
I was also intrigued; I said, "Then what did you do?"
He said, "What can I do? I have to run -- and I come third in the race! Now this is too much! I cannot trust you anymore!"
There is every possibility to misunderstand me and there is every possibility to find rationalizations. This is how the mind goes on being foolish, the mind goes on playing around, fooling around. It always finds ways to protect itself. If I say drop the ego, you say okay, and you try to drop it; and then the ego becomes your humbleness and you start moving around with your nose up, looking at everybody as if everybody is condemned to hell. And you have that look of "holier than thou" and "I am the most humble man around here." If I say the ego has to become big, only then it bursts, then you say, "Okay. That's what we have been always trying. Now you are also supporting it -- so far so good."
When are you going to understand me? When you listen to me, always remember, your mind is there to corrupt it. Unless you are very, very watchful, your mind will pollute it. And mind is so cunning, it can always find a way out. And it is so clever, it can always make rationalizations look like reasons.
My Way: The Way of the White Clouds, Ch. 8, 17 May 1974
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.
Inspiration for everyone from [Google] : [Never settle for the best]
[The three most difficult things for a human being]
[Jan Hunt] [Library|http://www.naturalchild.com/jan_hunt/]
[A Conversation|http://www.naturalchild.com/guest/marlene_bumgarner.html] with [John Holt] (Interviewer: Marlene Bumgarner)
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.
[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...
[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]
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.
[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
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.
[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] :-)
[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."
Pancha Ganapati
The December gift-giving festival called Pancha Ganapati
25, has become a favorite in homes all over the world. The winter solstice
among Hindus especially, for it is a traditional season for the worship
of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed lord of culture and the arts.
In the Sri Lankan tradition, for example, thirty days are dedicated
to Ganesha worship during December-January in the festival called
Markali Pillaiyar. In Vedic astrology this time of year marks the end
of the sun's southward movement and the beginning of its movement north.
Pancha Ganapati is a Hindu expression of this natural season of worship,
During each of the five days, a special sadhana, spiritual discipline, is
focused upon by the entire family. Because of the festival's importance
is created in the main living room of the home. At the center is placed
will do. Each morning the children dress or decorate Ganesha anew in a
different color: golden yellow on December 21, then royal blue, ruby red,
emerald green and finally brilliant orange. These are the colors of His
Ganapati, often prepared and presented by the children. Chants, songs
and bhajans are sung in His praise. After puja, the abundant, diverse
to the children, who place them before Pancha Ganapati to open only on
the fifth day. Gifts need not be extravagent or expensive; they should
be within the means of each family. Handmade presents are by far the
commercialism but to further the great Hindu culture. Clearly, killer
games should never be given. Greeting cards, ideally made by the children,
offer Hindu art and wisdom, such as verses from the Vedas. Here is how
the five-day celebration is observed.
December 21, yellow: The family sadhana for the first day of Pancha
family members. The day begins early, and the entire family works together
to design and decorate the shrine with traditional symbols, rangoli,
lamps and more. Then a grand puja is performed invoking the spirit
of Pancha Ganapati in the home. The sadhana of the day now begins. The
family sits together for the purpose of easing any strained relationships
that have arisen during the year. They make amends one with another for
suffered. When forgiveness is offered to all by one and all, they speak of
each other's good qualities and resolve that in the days ahead they will
remember the futility of trying to change others and the practicality of
changing one's self to be the silent example for all to witness. Gifts
are then exchanged and placed unopened before Pancha Ganapati. As family
harmony among neighbors, relatives and close friends and presenting them
with heartfelt. The sadhana of the day is to offer apologies and clear
December 23, red: The sadhana for the third day is to create a vibration
of love and harmony among business associates, the casual merchant and
the public at large. This is the day for presenting gifts to fellow
and appreciation. The sadhana today is the settling of all debts and
disputes. Gifts received are placed unopened before the Deity.
December 24, green: The sadhana of day four is to draw forth the vibration
of joy and harmony that comes from music, art, drama and the dance.
Family, relatives and friends gather for satsang to share and enjoy
their artistic gifts. Then all sit together before Ganesha, Patron of
to bring more cultural refinements into the home. More gifts are placed
December 25, orange: The family sadhana for the final day is to bring
performed during the first four days, the family is now more open and
aware of Ganesha's grace, and their love for Him is now overflowing. On
this day the entire family experiences an outpouring of love and
tranquility from the great God Himself. His blessings fill the home and
the hearts of everyone within it, inspiring them anew for the coming year.
We can clearly see that religion and tradition are interlocked in the
forward from one generation to the next, setting the patterns for
following it through the context of one of the great religions of the
the right path.
Jan Hunt
[The Natural Child Project]
The Natural Child Project
[Links] > The Natural Child Project
http://www.naturalchild.com
[The Natural Child]
The Natural Child
[Books] > The Natural Child
http://www.naturalchild.org/book/
Children
[Interests] > Children / [Parenting] / [Students]
http://harmful.cat-v.org/society/children/ : Children are nothing more than a toy some parents use to feed their [ego] and feel important.
Our Kids - Their Future - The Early Years Making a Difference - http://smartpei.typepad.com/our_kids_their_future/
[In Praise of Black Sheep] : ...Neither should we forget that raising a "good" child is a dubious goal in the first place, if only because the line between instilling integrity and breeding self-righteousness is so fine... The good child cries very little, he sleeps through the night, he is confident and good-natured. He is well-behaved, convenient, obedient, and good. Yet no consideration is given to the fact that he may grow up to be indolent and stagnant...
"There never was a child so lovely, but his mother was glad to get him asleep."
* [Why baby is the best medicine|http://www.femail.co.uk/pages/standard/article.html?in_article_id=149979&in_page_id=170] ([via garret|http://www.dangerousmeta.com/posts/02/20021204])
* [Every Child a Teacher]
* [Baby Care|http://www.healthepic.com/ayurveda/mother&childcare/child_babycare.htm]
* [The Natural Child]
* [International Children's Digital Library]
* [Children's Literature Web Guide]
Wendell Berry
(since the above page is only available in [Google]'s cache... I(a Wendell Berry Fan) have copied below)
The farmer, poet, novelist, essayist, and teacher, Wendell Berry, is a lover of the land. His appreciation and love for the land is expressed in both his life and works.
Berry was born at New Castle, Kentucky, in 1934. He grew up in this Henry County locale among "the cycle of the tobacco growing, cultivation, and marketing, so the romance of Kentucky's green gold is a living part of him" (Browning 191). In 1956, Berry graduated form the University of Kentucky with a B.A. degree in English and received his M.A. degree there a year later. During the summer of 1956, Berry studied at Indiana University School of Letters. From 1957 to 1959, he taught at Georgetown College. Later, under a creative writing fellowship, he went to the creative writing Center at Stanford University and taught creative writing for a year. While at Stanford, he wrote his first novel, Nathan Coulter.
In 1963, he taught at New York University. When Berry was offered and accepted a teaching position in the English Department at the University of Kentucky, the Berry's came home to Henry County in Kentucky. He lives on a 125 acre farm where his family has lived since the early 1800's. According to Bryan Wooley, "Berry is the fifth generation of his father's family and the sixth of his mother's to farm in Henry County, in the neighborhood of Port Royal" (8). Although his wife, formerly Tanya Amyx, lived in the city all her life, she and her husband raised their two children, Mary Dee and Pryor (Den) Clifford, on the farm. In the article "Wendell Berry, A Kentucky Writer Tries to Strengthen the Ties Between Man and the Land," Wooley discusses Berry's farm life. Berry did not initially intend to live on this farm but intended to use it as a vacation place. Instead the Berry's renovated the house and moved in around July 4, 1965. "It is a real farm, not a writer-professor's country estate. Its chores include milking cows and currying horses, and mucking out stalls and mending fences and mowing hay and all other time-consuming sometimes back-breaking, labor that family agriculture requires" (10).
Most of his farm was previously neglected, but Berry is fascinated with making this abused land productive. Oddly, he does not have a modern toilet; instead he has a clean white privy in the backyard. The wastes deposited there are made into compost. Tractors are not used to plow his fields, either. Berry uses a team of draft horses in replace of "Exhaust-stinking, engine-roaring, gasoline-guzzling tractors" (11). Berry feels he is doing his part by not harming the environment any further.
Another technology he does not convenience himself with is a computer, which Berry explains in his essay "Why I Am Not Going To Buy a Computer?" He writes his works and then his wife revises and types then on a manual typewriter. Berry gives three main reasons for not buying a computer: (1) He would hate to think that his work could not be done without a direct dependence on strip-mined coal. (2) He does not want to replace the close bond between him and his wife with an expensive unnecessary piece of equipment. (3) He does not want to "fool himself" by owning a computer, a tool that itself does not make his writing any better than the writing he does with a pencil. His first reason is in regard with his awareness of the land being striped to produce the electricity to run the computer. For the same reason, he writes in the daytime without electric lighting (179-171). By not participating in the "rape of nature," he shows his concern for the environment.
In Berry's novel, The Memory of Old Jack, this same appreciation for the earth is portrayed through the main character, Jack Beechum. Within this novel, the love for the land can be seen as a means of fulfillment. Although other prominent relationships are evident in Beechum's life, the most important relationship that he has is that with the soil and land.
Beechum remembers going though "a tormented marriage,... a jaded relationship with a hired black hand, and a tender love affair with a young widow... Through it all, Beechum is sustained by his farm, the paramount love and labor of his life" (Borries 26).
Beechum's marriage failed during courtship as Berry explains on page 54 and 55. His wife, Ruth Beechum, expected and wanted more of a business man instead of the farmer he was. The two, even though they were husband and wife, were strangers to each other. "She remained to him an unknown continent" (58). Beechum spent much of his time in the fields with the land, not with his wife. He could not fail with the land nor disappoint it, and it could not hold any expectations for him. So, he had more of a bond with the land than his wife.
Beechum and Will Wells, his Black hired hand, were originally like brothers, working on and caring for the land together. However, they grew weary in their relationship with the roles they fell into. Wells "was a man laboring for no more than his existence," while Beechum had "an increasing resentment of his dependence and a jealous remembering of the days when he had worked alone...when in his solitary work he had been so free" (81). Beechum had a greater need for the land than his hired hand.
Beechum thought he could restore his happiness through a love affair with Rose McInnis, a young widow. At first it did just that. Nevertheless, "with Rose too he was beginning to feel an incompleteness" (134). He loved McInnis but was married to Ruth Beechum; therefore, it could never lead to anything. Beechum knows the love in his affair with McInnis is dishonorable, whereas the love in his affair with the land is honorable.
Beechum's love for the land can be seen through faithfulness, his death, and his community. He is faithful to the earth, "Promising the return of what has been taken from it" (157). On the other hand, Jack also felt that the land was faithful to him by giving him "exactly what he put into it" (Borries 26). As death is at his door, he sits in a chair in his room, but his last visions are as though he is sitting at the roots of a tree on his farm (Berry 190-192). It is almost like his last request is to be with the wilderness. Moreover, Mat Feltner thought Beechum should have been buried secretly, only known to the ones who loved him best, at the edge of one of his fields so that: "when the last of them who knew its place (Beechum's grave-site) had died, Old Jack's return would be complete. He would be lost to memory there in the field, silently possessed by the earth on which he once established the work of his hands" (Berry 207). Therefore, he grew to love the soil and its natural surroundings greater than all else since his other relationships failed to give him satisfaction.
Another of Berry's works that displays a true love for his homeland is his poem "East Kentucky, 1967" included in his collection entitled Openings. The poem invites two questions concerning the environment. The first six lines challenge the awareness of what industrialization has done to the land. The waste produced by machines in the air and streams are at the expense of the lives all of the earth encompasses. The last six lines challenge the awareness of the future of our children. The next generation holds no hope for the reason they are "helpless." Since the children can only witness what we have shown them in this industrial period, they cannot "vision" and are "blind" to the land when it is beautiful and plentiful.
Wendell Berry expresses in his own life and in his works, a fondness, a love for the land and community. In my opinion and understanding, he wants us to realize our modernization is damaging the earth. It is killing the environment. Berry is not trying to tell us to "Save the World." The difference we make does not have to be large scale but local, individually taking part in preventing further damage. Berry explains in an interview with Bluegrass, "I think that changing yourself by doing the best work you can is of major importance" (27). In other words, if we worry about the part we can do locally, instead of thinking that we cannot do it all, then together we can make a noticeable difference.
- - -. the Memory of Old Jack. Harcourt, Brace, and World: New York, 1974.
Borries, Philip. "Retired Kentucky Farmer Recalls Days He Spent Tilling the Earth." Lexington Herald Leader. 10 Mar 1974: 26.
Wooley, Bryan. "Wendell Berry, A Kentucky Writer Tries to Strengthen the Ties Between Man and the Land." Courier-Journal & Times. 8-13.
The Broken Ground. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1965. A book of 27 poems.
The Memory of Old Jack. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1965.
The Rise. Lexington, Kentucky: Grave Press, 1968. A book of nonfiction.
Findings. Iowa City, Iowa: The Prairie Press, 1968. A book of eight poems.
The Long-Legged House. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1972. A book of nonfiction.
The Hidden Wound. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970. A book of nonfiction.
The Country of Marriage. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973. A book of 37 poems.
The Kentucky River. Monterey, Kentucky: Gnoman Press, 1975. A poem.
To What Listens. Crete, Nebraska: The Best Cellar Press, 1975. A poem.
The Gift of Good Land: Further essays Cultural and Agricultural. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1981. A book of 22 nonfiction essays.
The Collected Poems, 1957-1983. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1985. A book of 203 poems.
The Wild Birds: Six Stories of the Port William Membership. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1986. A book of 6 fiction stories.
* source : http://www.tipiglen.dircon.co.uk/wendellberrybooks.htm - "I do have an interest in this book, which is for sale. (If you have bought it, dear reader, I thank you. If you have borrowed it, I honor your frugality. If you have stolen it, may it add to your confusion.) Most of the sale price pays the publisher for paper, ink, and other materials, for editorial advice, copyediting, design, advertising (I hope), and marketing. I get between 10 and 15 percent (depending on sales) for arranging the words on the pages.
As I understand it, I am being paid only for my work in arranging the words; my property is that arrangement. The thoughts in this book, on the contrary, are not mine. They came freely to me, and I give them freely away. I have no "intellectual property," and I think that all claimants to such property are thieves."
[Articles] : [Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer], [The joy of sales resistance]
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."
Amalaki
Systems :Work on all the 7 tissues of the body and encreases Ojas.
It is composed of the herb Amalaki, one of Ayurveda's greatest rejuvenators. It assists the new growth of tissue, blood, teeth, bones, nails and hair. Amalaki is a strong natural ant-oxydant and also helps the immune system by increasing antibodies, prostagladin, and interferon.
Amalaki, literally meaning " the sustainer ", is also highly regarded in India that every spring there is a special day on which the tree is worshipped as being divine. It is easy to see that this holiday is motivated by sheer gratitude for a fruit the has nursed an entire society throughout the year. In fact, another of its Sanskrit names is Dhatri, " the nurse of humankind ". Amalaki has been used continuously in Ayurveda for millenia, and according the Vedas, the ancient books of wisdom, it was the first tree in the Universe.
It has dozens of valuable molecular constituents, such as phyllembic acid, putranjivain, and Vitamin C. Fresh Amalaki is one of the world best source of Vitamin C with up to 1400 mg of relatively heat stable vitamin C per 100 gm of fresh fruit. This vitamin C is naturally chelated with bioflavanoids and other unique molecules which increase its potency at least 10 times over synthetic Vitamin C. Recent research on Vitamin C confirms many of the traditionally known uses of Amalaki. It has been found that Vitamin C increases interferon, stimulates the immune system, is a powerful anti-oxydant (protects cells from free radical damage), helps to produce anti-stress hormones, and protects against cancer, degenerative diseases, and infections2.
The list of the traditional uses of this divine fruit is incredible. Due to it's cooling nature it removes hyperacidity, hemorroids, chronic hepatitis and jaundice, excessive menstrual bleeding, chronic low grade fevers, blood impurities, baldness, graying. It is effective in colds and coughs, constipation, dysentery and diarrhea3, teething, and it also reduces chromosonal abnormalities4, kundalini disorders5, and lowers the risk of cancer6. For stomach upsets due to acid dyspepsia Amalaki after meals is a classic remedy. Additionnaly it has the ability to cure obesity, anemia, increase the red blood cell count7, decrease cholesterol and atherosclorosis8, tone the liver9, improve the eyesight, increases adrenaline, and help to remove kidney and urinary stones.
Amalaki is a proven anti-viral, anti-tumor, and is even a potent anti-HIV herb due to putranjivain10. It raises the protein level in the body which is one way that it decreases obesity and helps the immune system defeat invasions of pathogens. It is excellent for children as it promotes growth and equally excellent for seniors as it inhibits aging mecanisms in the body. Since it removes excessive heat, air, and agitation in the body, and promotes coolness, clarity, and stability, it is well suited for people with fiery constitutions or aggravated and depleted conditions. Finally, because of its strong toning ability, it is useful in general debility and systemic rejuvenation. This incredible potent herb is recommended for all people.
1: Most of the technical ayurvedic information for most of the herbs, such as energetics and systems, etc, is from Frawley, D, and Lad, V, the " Yoga of Herbs ", Lotus press, Santa Fe, 1986.
6: Dhir, Haimanti, et al, Phytotherapy Research,v 4.(5), 1990
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,
the United States and have listened to "The University of Hard
institutes, club gatherings, conventions and before various other
"Can I get the lecture in book form?" That continuous question from
audiences brought out this book in response. Here is the overflow
"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
Adversity"--Why children are not interested
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
VI. THE PROBLEM OF "PREPAREDNESS"--Preparing children for
children--The story of "Gussie" and "Bill Whackem"--Schools and
Children must have struggle to get strength--Not packhorse work--
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
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
the next person says he got nothing out of it.
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.
"naturally bright" and have to be pulverized.
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
preaching and every running brook the unfolding of a book.
Children, I fear you will not be greatly interested in what is to follow.
Perhaps you are "naturally bright" and feel sorry for Shakespeare.
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
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
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
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
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
Teaching a Wilful Child
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
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
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
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
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
flies are naturally bright and have so many more advantages. You
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
naturally bright young life. Afterwhile, tho, he stubs his toe and
lands in the stickiness. "Well, well, how nice this is on the feet,
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
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
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
to congratulate the patients lying there. They are learning the
They are getting the education in the humanities the world needs
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
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
this Babylon that I have builded?" And about that time there comes
some handwriting on the wall and a bump to save us.
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
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,
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
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?
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.
You children try that tomorrow. Do not wait thirty years to learn
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
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
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
destiny. There is destiny--that jar.
The objects in that jar cannot change their size. But thank God,
And when we have reached the place our size determines, we stay
there so long as we stay that size.
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,
If you want a greater place, you simply grow greater and they
with various sizes of objects. When an employee would come into the
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
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
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
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 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
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
It is dangerous to overboost people, for the higher you boost them
the farther they will fall.
The Menace of the Press-Notice
lyceum work, in teaching, in very many lines, they are often useful
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
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
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
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
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
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
naturally today, and we see it is because we have grown ready for
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
and writing it all down in the contract, most likely Dr. Frank W.
the backwoods of Morrow county, Ohio.
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"
Preparing Children to Live
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
saying, "Our children shall have better chances than we had. We 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
Most "advantages" are disadvantages. Giving a child a chance
"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
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
children are going to have to run on "flat tires."
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
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
The birthright of every child is the opportunity of becoming
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
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
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
proper preparation. Don't make my mistake, children, go to school."
The young person with electrical genius will make an electrical
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
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
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
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
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?
Children, Learn This Early
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.
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
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."
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."
Children, you must crack your own shells. You must overcome your
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
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.
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
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!
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.
multitudes killing themselves by taking vacations.
The people who think they are overworking are merely overworrying.
To work at the things you love, or for those you love, is to turn
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
There are ten literary drunkards to one alcoholic drunkard. There
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."
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
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.
"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!
Dr. Henry Solomon Lehr, founder of the Ohio Northern University at
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
I believe the most useful schools today are schools of struggle
work their way thru and to act upon their own initiative.
The old "deestrick" school is passing, and with it the small
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
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
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
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
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?
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
Then I had to go around showing the blisters, boring my friends and
the audience knew how little I know, you wouldn't stay.
took me so long because I was naturally bright. It takes that kind
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
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.
people like me, naturally bright.
But I needn't have felt bad. I did not rob father. Father cleaned
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
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
I grew older and people began to notice that I was naturally bright
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.
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
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.
I pitied his lack of vision. Bankers were such "tightwads." They
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
You are a natural leader and everybody looks up to you."
He knew me! He was the only man who did know me. So I took the
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
O, I am so glad I went to St. Louis. Being naturally bright, I
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
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
cannot tell him anything, because he is naturally bright and knows
fortune right up on this platform and put it down there on the
Today when somebody offers me much more than the legal rate of
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
will have to be "selected." There is no other way for you, because
you are naturally bright. When you get a letter, "You have been
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
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
Even the young person who has large fortune given him does not own
The owning is in the understanding of values.
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
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.
Children, we are not laughing at you. We are laughing at ourselves.
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.
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
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.
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
So, children, when you prepare your commencement oration, write
"Peeling Potatoes," and you are most likely to hear the applause
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
All this was gall and wormwood to Jessie. "Child," I said to her,
"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
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
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,"
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
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
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
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
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
I know there are chapters of heroism in the lives of you older
the floor when you could not sleep. You have learned that "beyond
the Alps lieth Italy."
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
That seems to be your life and my life. In the kitchen or the
the oar and pulling under the sting of the lash of necessity. Life
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.
But I am a very grateful pupil in the first reader class of The
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
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
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
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.
few shorthand characters and irritate a typewriter keyboard. They
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
I could not play so well with such little practice." The poor
is the opiate that Nature administers to deaden the pains of mediocrity.
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
We are only children in God's great kindergarten, playing with our
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
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
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.
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 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?
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
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,
nor his natural force abated." He had not time to stop and abate.
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
childhood's palmy days."
Wake up! Your clock has run down. Anybody who wants to be a child
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
anybody who gets shortchanged regularly, it is a child. I am so
sorry for a child. Hurry up and go on south. It is better on south.
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
"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.
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
good time, it's a child. Life has been getting better ever since,
and today is the best day of all. Go on south!
Seeing your best days as a child? No! You are seeing your worst
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
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
today it is such a relief to look people in the face and say,
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
Obstacles are the power stations on our way south!
And where the most obstacles are, there you find the most power to
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
the world will always hear? Do you remember that one author became
blind before writing "Paradise Lost" the world will always read?
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
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.
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.
and emerald, where the miles seem like inches, and where his
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
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."
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
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 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."
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"
Mata Amritanandamayi
A spiritual being should be like a tree that gives shade even to the person who cuts it down.
...The future of the human race
on her return from the Global Peace Initiative of Women at the UN in Geneva
where she received the covetous Gandhi-King Award for her massive
humanitarian works. According to Mata, today's mothers are not playing their
crucial role in molding the character of their children, especially
daughters. The motherly instinct of the woman is the most fundamental and
natural. All other roles are subservient to that. But today's mothers seem
to fall in the trap of the glitz and glamour of the show world, she said...
Ten ways to enhance your family dinnertime
In the harried lifestyle we live, one of the first casualties can be dinnertime.Everyone is busy, the schedules are different, the TV is on and the phone is ringing. So many nights' dinners are eaten on the run, or in front of the TV screen.
But we forget the high price in terms of health and happiness that is being paidwhen dinners are undermined. Besides, a lot can be gained when dinner times are treated as special times. Treat your dinnertime as a sacred time for you and yourfamily and you will see the rewards right away.
Besides the obvious advantage of offering a prayer before we eat, it also gives a couple of minutes to quiet down before we begin. In Ayurveda it has been said that it is not only what you eat, but also when you eat, what kind of emotional status you are in when you eat, and whom you eat with helps us digest our food better. So by doing a small prayer will help you calm down and see dinner as what it really is - a ritual.
2. Offer the food to the deity of your choice
This is similar to the point made earlier. Offering your food to the family deity can bring a sense of sacredness to your meals. In Hindu philosophy, food (anna)holds a sacred place. Treating food that is going to nourish you, with respect makes sense. This is especially important for young children to learn in times when their choice seems to rule on the dinner table.
3. Turn off the TV/ Turn on soft music
Another obvious yet rarely practiced habit is to turn off the TV while eating dinner. If your household is one such household, practice it for a week and see how much difference it makes. You will find that every one is paying attention to what they are eating. Even the dinnertime talk seems to take better shape when the environment is quiet. Tell everyone that dinner is a special time and you insist that it should be treated as such.
While this should be something natural, we learn to eat at any odd time. One way to accomplish this is to make sure that at least one or two hours before dinner there is no snacking. This can be slightly difficult to adhere to if your children are very little, or if they are used to eating snack at anytime or if you come home from work late and the dinner is a few hours away but if you can make this possible, you reap good results.
Another small ritual but a good habit nonetheless. Every one should only go to the dinner table after washing their hands. Washing your hands not only help you in getting rid of the germs and bacteria but also puts you in the clean mood to enjoy the food you are about to have.
6. Place fresh flowers or light candles on the table whenever possible
Often flowers from your own garden can do the job. They do not have to be very expensive or special but a small bunch of flowers make the environment much nicer to eat in. If flowers are not practical, light a candle.Think about it. All day we work so that we can have a nice meal at the end of the day and a healthy body through out our lives. So make that meal a special thing that you do at the end of the day.
It has been said that by offering your food to someone before you consume it, you are contributing to the world around you. So if you have a pet, make it a routine to feed him first.
This works very well if your family consists of young, school-going children. Pre-assign dinner topics such as current events every Monday, new science invention every Tuesday and have everyone say something about the topic. Be careful not to turn this into a one-sided lecture. There is so much learning that happens through these topics. Be creative about these topics: music, science, politics, family, health, and food.... the list can be endless.
10. Refrain from criticizing the food
Although this is obvious and has been covered in the points above, I wanted to bring special attention to this. For one, this happens more often than not. It should be a ground rule in any family that whoever has prepared this food has put a lot of time, energy and love into the food. Criticizing the food is like insulting someone who has gone out of his or her way to make this food for your consumption.
Rutger Kortenhorst
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]
the mouth
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.
Power
You’re in high school, trying to get into a good college. You know what you must do: do well in classes, score highly on the SAT, and be active in extracurriculars — and do it better than everyone else.
Actually, I have a different suggestion: train with a friend for the USA Biology Olympiad, score highly in the first two rounds of exams, and qualify for the national training camp and then the national team.
Only a handful of people can follow that strategy. But anyone who could play the standard high-school achievement game and have a good shot at getting into MIT or Stanford could instead play the Olympiad game and have a great one. The USABO is disproportionately high-utility compared to how competitive it is. It comes with a free trip to a national training camp where you receive intense training in biology and bond with a few dozen other top high-schoolers. There are vast swaths of America, including lots of high schoolers studying hard for the SAT, who have never heard of USABO. And yet there are communities where training for Olympiads is such a well-known option that it barely counts as a strategy.
My friend who did this and got into all her colleges didn’t do so by playing the standard high school game better than her competitors, but by stumbling into a different game entirely. In doing so, she could do things the others couldn’t. I think this a fairly common pattern: a lot of what’s involved in making it to the top of anything is not being better at things than other people, but outright being able to do things they can’t. In business, they call it a “competitive advantage.” Peter Thiel calls it a “secret”. For personal life, I like to call it a “source of power.”
The “other people can’t” is the big part. As a source of power percolates into society, it loses its power as an advantage, although whether you should stop doing it depends on whether its value is external or innate. As an example of the former, 200,000 people compete in the American math Olympiad qualifier rounds each year, so training for the math Olympiad is not such a good move for most people. It’s prestigious, but only in proportion to how competitive it is. In economic terms, the free lunch has been eaten. Meanwhile, when Benjamin Franklin was working in London, saving up to open his own print shop, he found it easier than most to be frugal due to his insight that strong beer does not grant physical strength. They nicknamed him the “water American.” Nowadays, his insight is common knowledge, but that doesn’t make it less effective. Instead, it becomes the new bar.
As a warning, I found when writing this that a lot of examples of sources of power I used or wanted to use would strike a lot of people as weird, but it would take a lot of space to justify them. This is inevitable in retrospect: if it’s considered normal, it’s no longer a source of power. I also noticed while writing this that a lot of my examples focus around high school or college. I think that’s largely because life tends to diverge afterwards, and the examples become much more niche.
How can you learn about new opportunities before other people suck them dry? How can you find ways of being better before they become background knowledge? While CEOs often spend much of their time looking for a leg up on the competition, I think there’s enough sources of power and few enough people looking for them that simply trying is enough. In fact, sources of power are sufficiently exploitable that there are many algorithms for finding them with high success probability.
Often, they’re hidden in plain sight, waiting for anyone to read. For a basic example, right now a degree in computer science is a ticket to a decent life. Right now, the meta-skill of “study things that are valuable and will be in demand” is sufficiently uncommon that you can raise your expected earnings (or, dare I say, life outcome) significantly just by following it. Look at the distribution of college majors if you’re not sure. I think the same further applies to specializing in hot-but-difficult subfields like natural language processing or security. Right now, CMU’s Plaid Parliament of Pwning is winning tens of thousands of dollars from application security competitions every year, while only a handful of other American universities have a team at all. More broadly, this idea also applies to entering STEM in general.
This is basically staying ahead of the demand curve. When it comes to personal skills, demand is slow to propagate, and you can gain a lot simply by being faster. Since knowing that you can raise your earnings by becoming a programmer or moving to North Dakota doesn’t cause everyone to instantly become a programmer or move to North Dakota, it will remain exploitable for anyone who wants for quite some time.
It’s interesting to think about trying to be even more ahead of the demand curve by making a big bet and training in what will be hot. This involves predicting the future. But, in life as in stocks, the winner is often not someone who knows what will happen, but someone who figured out slightly more than everyone else. And, for predicting the future, not many are trying. Along these lines, I was surprised when I learned that several prominent companies in the mobile space — in particular AdMob, acquired by Google for $750 million, and Flurry, whose software runs in over 100,000 apps — were actually founded in 2005 or 2006, before the iPhone’s announcement ushered in the modern mobile era. I think a lot of people knew the mobile revolution was coming, although perhaps not that it would be so fast. The people bold enough to actually act on that prediction were in a very good spot when it happened. I’m hoping to do something similar for program analysis.
A lot of the above could perhaps be summarized to find ways to be effective. The interesting part is how people find sources of power. One way is to invent it yourself, whether by finding a loophole, noticing a trend, or doing science. While there are a few places where it’s clear that investigating it may result in disproportionately better capabilities, this can run out of steam pretty fast. It may be possible to gain vitality by eating better, but the reward curve of doing nutrition research probably more resembles climbing the corporate ladder. Most often, the way to find a source of power is to hear of it from other people.
I think it’s a pretty simple effect. People with similar interests like to cluster, but people who also really care about improving will cluster further. They might be able to invent one or two sources of power on their own, but then they share it with the people around them — who also have a secret or two. The effect compounds, with the benefits from sharing ideas dwarfing the loss of exclusivity. Just as IBM found their above-average testers becamedozens of times better when grouped together, what you get are communities that collectively have and share the best ways of doing things. So the way to get good at something is to simply find the right community and join it.
So, for example, you’ve probably heard weight-loss advice from everyone from talk show hosts to your neighbor. This suggests that you can do better by talking to bodybuilders, who can control exactly which day they’ll hit their goal.
But this strategy can be easier said than done. The problem is not the joining: these communities are rarely exclusionary. The problem is the finding: every community wants to seem like them. They get drowned out in the noise.
In 9th grade, I attended a local programming contest. I spent a morning running floppy disks to the judges, and left with a full belly and $500 — I had won by a sizable margin. I immediately went home and Googled for more high school programming contests. I found a pen-and-paper competition in which you answer multiple-choice questions about the BASIC programming language.
I often wonder how my life would have been different if I had instead discovered the USA Computing Olympiad.
For another example, it’s well-known that to get stronger you need to push your muscles to their limits — and specifically their strength limits, rather than their endurance limits. There are vast swaths of the Internet where everyone understands what implications this has for training, with plenty shouting it at the top of their lungs. But if you look around for advice on “how to get fit,” you’re perhaps more likely to find advice to do lots of crunches, or warnings that weights might make you look like a steroid junkie. One journalist described crossing this gap as “I somehow bumbled my way into a parallel universe of American fitness, one in which men know exactly how to get strong.”
As we’ve seen, while sources of power with intrinsic value may merely descend from insight to platitude over time, the externally-valued have a shelf life. Perhaps the big warning from this is for those wishing to help others be successful, especially parents. As Paul Graham wrote, parents are like generals always fighting the last war. I remember seeing a teenager on CollegeConfidential complaining that their parents wanted them to stay home all summer and study for the SAT. Perhaps that would be a rational choice in their home countries, where college admissions were and still are based on grueling exams. Yet here the most advanced standardized math test for college admissions is the Math SAT Subject Test, where it’s possible to miss 7/50 questions and still get a perfect score. Meanwhile, my own mother had occasional aspirations of being a “white tiger,” and would often cajole me during my hacking sessions to “stop playing Java” and go study for the SAT.
This realization — that all these secrets and sources of power I’ve spent so much effort finding might backfire when I try to pass them on — is what scares me. I imagine becoming a parent telling my children to train for Olympiads, not knowing that that’s become advice about as good as spending a summer studying for the SAT.
I think the defense is to recognize the phenomenon but go a meta-level up. Why are people at the top of one field often very good at another? Is it merely grit and intelligence? Just as there’s a meta-skill of finding sources of power, I think there’s a skill of finding and recognizing the people with the genuine secrets, versus the posers and people out to get your money. I believe there’s a way to recognize genuine competence that transcends fields (related concept). That’s a topic in and of its own.
So, find your sources of power, but pass on the meta-skill of finding them. To get your children into college, help them find the new secrets.
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
Pleasant
It's natural for any human being to work towards being happy, so joyfulness or happiness is not an idea, it is not a philosophy, it is a basic aspiration of life. And it's not an ultimate goal in your life: happiness should be the fundamental fabric in your life.
People look at it as an achievement, but it isn't. As a child you were happy, so being happy as an adult is going back to square one. It is not the ultimate goal of your life.
If your body becomes pleasant, you call it health and pleasure. If your mind becomes pleasant, you call it peace and joy. If your emotions become pleasant, you call it love and compassion. If your energies become pleasant, you call it blissfulness and ecstasy. Whether we are going to the bar or the temple, this is what we are seeking.

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