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Amma’s stories on Nature of the World / People – Part 7 (10 more stories)

1. Finding fault with others

Once a ordered his subjects to make one statue from each family and bring them to him. On the due date, people brought the statues to meet him. The king ordered his minister to assess the quality of the statues and give prizes to people proportionately.

The minister could not find any appreciable quality in any of the statues. Each statue had some fault or other. The minister went to the king and said, “Nome of the statues look good. I don’t even find average ones”.

The king did not like what the minister said. He said, “Common people are not sculptors. They have made statues with whatever skills they possessed. There is nothing totally perfect in this world. There will be some fault or other in every creation. I really feel sorry for you as you are incapable of even finding one statue that you can consider reasonably acceptable, to give some little prize. You have no qualification to be my minister anymore. I am dismissing you from the minister’s post.”

Thus the man who could only find fault with others lost his job.

[Amma: “Children, every object in this world will have something good in it. We must have the eye to identify it. If you are a devotee of God, you must stop finding and speaking the faults of others. God can never live in the heart of those who find fault with everyone else. Strive not to find fault with others.   Since we have faults in us, we find faults in others. Never forget this truth. For a person who sees only goodness in others, chanting one japa will give the benefit of chanting it a crore times. Amma’s heart will melt at the thought of such a person. God will bless them with all their needs.”]

(Source: Oliyai Nokki-Tamil – Vol 2)

2. Being in tune with the world

Once a sanyasi went to a village. The village people ridiculed him.  The sanyasi was a man possessing miraculous powers but he was impatient and egoistic. He got infuriated by the villagers’ behavior. He took out some sacred ash, uttered a mantra and sprinkled it into the village common well, with a curse that all those who drink it would become mad.

There were two wells in the village. One was used by the people and the other by the king and his minister when they visited the village officially.

The villagers drank water from their well and all of them became mad. People started talking all sorts of nonsense. They started singing, dancing and shouting.

The kind and the minister visited the village and were staying there on some time. As they drank water from their exclusive well which was not contaminated by the  curse of the Sanyasi, both of them remained normal.

However, the villagers observed that the king and the minister were behaving totally differently unlike all the other folks and hence they felt there was something seriously wrong with the duo. According to their perception, the king and the minister were mentally deranged! How can a country be ruled properly if both the king and minister are mad? The villagers felt that they were duty-bound to save the nation from the rule of mad people!

They decided to catch the king and the minister and tie them to a tree. Having come to know of their intentions, the king and minister started running; the people started chasing them.

As they were running to save their lives, the minister said to the king, “The whole of people of this village have become mad; in their eyes we two look to be mad people and that’s why they want to arrest us. I believe if we don’t  start behave exactly like these mad people, they will not leave us in peace. I am afraid the best way ahead of us is to start behaving madly like them; then we can think of finding some cure for these people to get relieved from their madness. It is like policemen disguising themselves as thieves to catch hold of thieves.” The king agreed.

Immediately, the king and the minister started shouting and dancing madly in the same way as others. The villagers felt happy. They thanked God for ‘saving’ the duo from a calamity!

[Amma: “Children, spiritual aspirants are like the king and the minister of this story. Spiritual practitioners would look like mad people in the eyes of common men. But the fact is, those who have no inclination at all in spirituality are indeed mad people. Saints have to come down to the level of common people to teach them dharma and lead them on the right path. They may have to do many things hand in hand with the common people; that is the way they could lead the people to know their true Self.’]

(Source: Oliyai Nokki-Tamil – Vol 2)

3. Dissecting a poetry!

Once the wife of a scientist who was in a poetic mood wrote a verse describing the beauty of a woman by comparing her face with the full moon and s on. She gave it to her husband to read. The husband had no poetic inclination and showed little interest in reading it. But since his wife insisted, he went through it. The wife was very eager to get her husband’s feedback.

The husband said, “What nonsense have you written? Man had spent millions of dollars to go to the moon and explore it. What’s there in the moon except rocks and craters? There is no air too. If such a moon is kept on the neck of a woman, will not her neck break?…” Like this, he kept on criticizing each and every line in the poem!

Exasperated, the wife snatched the paper from his hands and said, “You can never understand poetry; give that back to me”.

The husband had only an intellect that dissected the poetry scientifically. He could only see rocks and craters in the moon. He was devoid of the heart to appreciate the beauty of the poetry.

[Amma: “One who says that he would believe only those perceived with sense organs has lost the purity of heart.”]

(Source: Oliyai Nokki-Tamil – Vol 2)

4.  The protector

[Amma: “Diversity is the hallmark of  creation. Most creatures in earth accept this diversity and live in peaceful coexistence. But only man refuses to accept the diversity in creation and fight with each other in the name of country, language, religion, claste, creed and so on. Unfortunately, man looks with suspicion and fear at those who are different from him and develop hatred on them”.]

Once three persons were undertaking a long pilgrimage. After crossing several rivers and hills they arrived at the foot of a mountain. Their next destination was a holy shrine at the top of the the mountain. A sadhu whom they met there wanted to join their group so as to undertake the arduous journey with company. The sadhu had very strange looks and he was from a different country too. The three travellers did not develop a liking on him and were not too keen to take him along, but they nevertheless agreed out of basic human courtesy.

After the sadhu joined their group, somehow their onward journey up the mountain,  ceased to be a smooth one, unlike their earlier experiences. Their journey became more and more arduous as they proceeded. It started raining heavily. Thunder and lightning too was severe. There were no inhabitants on their way and they suffered from lack of food and drinking water.

The three travelers started thinking that the new Sadhu who joined them was the cause of all the hardship they were facing. The raining became more and more severe; thunders were deafening. They noticed a dilapidated hut en route and decided to take shelter under it till raining stopped.

One of the three persons said, “I am afraid the hardships we are facing now must be due to the evil fortune and sins of one of us in this group. God appears to be angry at him. That’s why we have been undergoing so much of hardship in this journey. Let us do one thing. One after another, let us go out of the hut and stand in the open at a distance from here.  When the person on whom God is angry stands alone in the open, God is sure to punish him. Then the rest of us can proceed with our journey without trouble”. All of them agreed.

The person who proposed the idea went first to stand alone in the open. He stood there for a while and nothing wrong happened to him. He returned to the hut and the second person went out. He too returned safely to the hut. Then the third person went out and stood alone. He too returned safely. Now it was the turn of the stranger. He walked out and stood in the open.

That very moment a lightning stuck at the hut where the three persons stood and within no time the hut turned into ashes, killing all the three.

Thus it turned out that the good fortune of the stranger was indeed saving the rest of the three from calamities all along their travel in the mountain!

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

5.  Earning a livelihood

[Amma: “If there is something that destroys all goodness in a human mind and makes all his capabilities to a naught, it is poverty. Poverty is the most unfortunate happening in any human life. When Amma tours to various countries abroad, children coming to meet Amma would bring with them pictures drawn by them to show to Amma. In one country, a group of children came to receive Amma’s darshan. They too brought pictures drawn by them to show to Amma. (Amma narrated further on what happened: “]

Practically all the pictures drawn by these children contained tanks, warships, bombs and guns. In one of the boy’s picture, he had drawn Jesus Christ with a gun in hand. Upon inquiring about those children, Amma came to know that there were all poor kids from the ghettos.

Amma asked them, “Why have you drawn a gun in Jesus Christ’s hand, my children?”

One boy replied: “If Jesus Christ feels hungry, doesn’t he need food? He has to earn it. isn’t it? That’s why he needs a gun”.

“Will people give food only if he shows a gun?” asked Amma.

The boy said, “Our father grew us up only by showing gun at the face of others to earn money” they said.

“Why? Doesn’t your father have good health to do some work and earn money?”

“He is quite healthy. But when our father searched for jobs, the employers asked him where he was living. When he mentioned that he lived in a ghetto, none would offer a job to him; then our father started earning money by threatening others with a gun.”

[Amma: “These sort of experiences go deeply into young children’s hearts. Thus poverty combined with bad examples in life kindle violent tendencies in them. This is where there comes the need for expression of love and compassion towards such people.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

6. Dawn of Wisdom!

Once there lived an young man, who was called an idiot by everyone. As he was rather dull headed right from his childhood, everyone considered him an idiot. Whatever he said or did, his father would call him an idiot. He received the same treatment from his mother and brothers too.  Since his own family members called him an idiot, all the villagers did the same.

The young man was very sad about it. He used to think, “Since everyone calls me idiot, it must be true that I am really an idiot”.  Yet, he  repeatedly tried his best to prove to others that he  did possess brian and intelligence, all his efforts never yielded any result. He was considered a worthless fellow both inside and outside his house.

As life went on like this for the youngman, one day a Mahatma came to his village. The young man went to the Mahatma and prostrated before him; he conveyed his mental anguish and cried. The mahatma felt very compassionate towards him. He consoled him and instructed him  as follows:

“Don’t grieve. Do one thing from today onwards: Whosoever tells you anything, you should  object to their statement and oppose it. For example, if someone says, ‘Look at that flower. see how beautiful it is’, you must immediately say, ‘Nonsense! Who said that flower is beautiful? Can you explain what beauty is?”. Suppose somebody talks to you about the greatness of love, you should argue: “Love? What is really love? Is there anything really existing as love? Don’t simply say some nonsense about love. Where is the proof that love really exists?”. Likewise, without looking back or doubting, you confront everyone with a negative or counter argument; never waste any opportunity; question them, oppose them, criticize them, and demand their explanation! Nobody will be able to explain these sort of things coherently and consequently they will look like idiots! By questioning everything, you will become an intellectual….!”

The young man immediately agreed.

After a few years, the Mahatma came to the same village once again. Villagers who met him spoke to him with reverence and wonder, saying, “Maharaj, last time when you visited, you have really done a miracle in our village! By your sheer blessing, a rock-hard idiot in our village suddenly turned to be a brilliant fellow! He is now a very smart person and an intellectual! It is a wonder beyond words!”. The Mahatma immediately understood whom they are talking about. Soon the young man too came to meet the Mahatma. He said to the mahatma with heartfelt gratitude, “Maharaj, What you said did come through! Now everyone in this village consider me a very brilliant person!”

The mahatma said, “Fine. Make sure that you never reveal the secret to anybody!”

 [Amma: “Amma does not mean to say that logic and intelligence are not needed nor they are to be discarded. Amma only wants to convey that they alone cannot be considered the ‘be all and end all’ “. Where intelligence and logic are essential, do make use of them. But there are countless situations in life where the heart has to be given the prominence.  In such situations one must use the language of  love, faith, patience etc.” ]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

7. Demanding thankfulness?

Once a very rich man went to a temple to do worship. Once the puja was over, the rich man gave an unusually large some of money to the pujari.  But the pujari neither expressed thanks nor did he show any extraordinary courtesy or humility to the rich man. Noticing this, the rich man felt somewhat offended. He started loudly boasting to the priest saying that none would have ever given such a large amount of money to a pujari like him. He continued to boast about his largehearted-ness and his philanthropic mindset.

The priest kept listening it patiently for some time.  But since the rich man did not stop his self-boasting, he intervened and said, “Why are you explaining so much to me? Do you want me to say “thank you” for your donation?”

The rich man said, “Ah! Why not? What is wrong if  I expect a ‘thank you’ from you when I have given such a large amount to you?”

The priest said, “Actually, it must be you who should say ‘thank you’ for my accepting this amount from you. In fact, this is only a small amount when compared to the huge wealth you have amassed which truly belongs to God! Only if you could  surrender this amount without any  pride, you will become a recipient of God’s grace. YOu must in fact feel thankful that you have now got the opportunity to serve God and his devotee with your money. If you can’t do it, it will be better if you take back the money with you”.

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

8.  False pride

In the court of king Bhoja, a Congress of Poets was going on. Poets vied with one another to sing accolades about the king.  One poet sang a poem comparing king Bhoja with Lord Rama and his rule to be identical to Rama Rajya ( The rule of Rama which was considered a golden period).  Everyone in the assembly clapped their hands and king Bhoja was proudly acknowledging all the praises. Suddenly a crow flew into the court and defecated at the head of the poet who sang comparing King Bhoja with Lord Rama.

The poet felt very disturbed.  The king ordered his guards to catch the crow. The crow started speaking thus: “O Majesty, since this poet said falsehood, I defecated at his head. Neither you are  equal to Rama nor your kingdom equal to Rama Rajya. I can prove this to you, if you could kindly follow me.”

The king, minister and the poet decided to go behind the crow. The crow flew out and went to cave outside the city.  The crow flew inside it. Others followed. The crow wanted the soil inside the cave to be cleared. The minister and the poet engaged themselves in clearing the sand layer, there were thousands of gemstones underneath!

The crow said, “During Rama’s rule, there was a rich man who had no children. He prayed within his heart to Lord Rama to bless him with a son and he made a owe to donate a potful of gemstones to the king if his prayer was answered.  By God’s grace, a male child was born to the rich man. He felt extremely happy and went to meet king Rama with a pot of gemstones. When he told the matter and kept the pot under Rama’s feet, the Lord was not willing to receive it. He said, “I have no need for these gemstones in my treasury. You may please distribute it to the poor and the needy”. As the rich man went in search of poor people, he could not find anyone in the country. When the rich man reported this matter to Rama, the Lord asked him to freely distribute it to others.  But in the land of Rama, no one was willing to receive any free gifts saying that they cannot take anything for which they had not worked for.  The rich man finally left the gemstones in this cave. These are precisely the same gemstones”.

After narrating it, the crow said, “O king, will you now ask your minister and poet to open up their palms?”

When the king ordered so, the minister and the poet reluctantly opened their fists and each of them had handfuls of gemstones that they had collected secretly for themselves when they found the gemstones there! The crow said, “O king, isn’t it now absolutely clear that your kingdom is not equal to Rama rajya?”

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

9.  Reserved judgement!

 [Amma: “Children, most people, knowingly or unknowingly,  form opinions about others with preconceived notions. Because of this, one does not correctly understand another person.”]

Once, in a courtroom a case was in progress. The advocates of the plaintiff and the defendant were very strongly arguing the case in favor of their parties. Unfortunately, the magistrate was dozing off in his seat and he did not listen to the legal arguments from them. After a while, he woke up. Seeing his condition, the court clerk politely spoke to the magistrate, “Sir, I am afraid you dozed off; you have not listened to the arguments presented by the lawyers”.

The magistrate said coolly, “Oh! It does not really matter.  I have already decided the final ruling for this case”. So saying, he resumed his sleep!

 [Amma: “If we do things with preconceived notions, just as the magistrate in this story, we may sacrifice justice and truth. On account of it, sume people may get unjust advantages and some may be put into unjust difficulties.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

10.  What went wrong?

Once a rich man wanted to celebrate his 50th birthday on a grand scale.  He arranged to print very attractive  invitation cards by selecting a very costly design and quality of paper.

He got his whole house painted afresh. He bought a costly chandelier to decorate his reception room.  He kept himself very busy in making his house and surroundings clean and beautiful.  In order to project a rich look on his birthday,  he bought very costly dresses for himself. He bought a thick golden chain and a diamond ring.  In order to prepare a variety-rich and tasty feast, he engaged a very famous cook.

Finally his birthday arrived. As the time for arrival of the guests came, he dressed himself up with the new clothes and wore the chain and ring. The chief cook and his uniformed staff were busy readying a variety of tasty dishes and were all ready to do the serving.

The rich man came and sat in the reception awaiting the guests but surprisingly, no one turned up. The evening went pst and the night was advancing. Yet, no guest was at sight. The rich man started worrying and wondering. What happened? What went wrong? How come not a single fellow had turned up?

Impatiently, we walked to his table and he noticed something there. The big bundle of invitation cards was still lying there! Now it became obvious. He had been so busy and engrossed in making all the preparations for celebrating his birthday on a grand manner that he totally forgot to send the invitation cards to all his friends and relatives and acquaintances!

 [Amma: “Like this, in our pursuits behind all the petty things in life, we are engrossed so much that we have totally forgotten our goal of human birth.  Because of it, we are not able to enjoy the right peace and joy in our lives”.]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

How to have more joy and less pain in life

Joy and woe are woven fine; a clothing for the soul divine’ says poet William Blake. Practically all spiritual masters from all religions say the same thing time and again. Joy and pain are always said to be like two sides of the same coin.

It is true that fate plays some extra-dirty games in some people’s life and however much they strive, their share of pain seems to be more than the pleasure they get out of life. Hinduism says it is all due to* prarabhdha* (effects of past bad *karma*s done in previous lives). There are also a lucky few people who seem to enjoy pleasure far in excess of pain in their lives and again, Hinduism attributes it to good karmas done in previous lives. As for the majority, it looks joys and woes in life tend to even out.

But man always wants to maximize his joy and minimize his pain in life. Is it then really possible? For many people, particularly in young age, there seems to be a mental resistance to accept any religious or spiritual advice/ explanation/ guidance on this subject. So, outside religion, are there any good tips available for them to enjoy more pleasure in life without proportionate pain?

Yes there are indeed some practical tips available. Let us see some of them.

Have your own standards of desirable joy and bearable pain

Everyone has different capacities and tastes for enjoyment. Everyone has different levels of tolerance and acceptance of pain for the sake of enjoying pleasure. Be clear about your standards. Your close friends’ standards need not be yours. What everyone seems to be enjoying NEED NOT be really joyful to you. The pains to which others seem to be impervious may be too unpleasant to you!

Have you ever thought in such an angle in life? The fact is – most people do not evoke enough self-awareness on these things. To be blunt, herd mentality is quite strong in most of us. Because of this mentality, many people bear with pain without being aware of it for the sake of enjoying some paltry pleasures that othersseem to enjoy!

An youngster, whom I know as one with a calm demeanor, once told me that he went with his friends to see a 20-20 cricket match live at a stadium.

“Ah! Must be quite an experience! Did you enjoy it?” I asked.

“Sort of; yeah, it was fun, okay, but…”

As I probed deeper, he said: “We had to wait in very long queue for hours to book our tickets first. In the stadium, they did not permit us to carry our own food or water—everything we had to buy at very hefty prices there! Oh! The amount of noise people made there with their shouts, whistles, drums, pipes and what not! At some critical action times in the game, someone will invariably jump up in front of me and block the view. The pitch was so far away that I could not even make out which players are playing. Whether a ball was really caught or dropped, I won’t know from such a distance! The side where we were sitting, for the ticket amount we paid, was constantly exposed to sun and I felt I was getting roasted! I had to spend through my nose to keep buying water and drinking it to quench my thirst. By the time the game was over, I got thoroughly tired – both physically and mentally. As I returned home, I was suffering from a splitting head-ache!”

“ Then you mean to say, it would have been heaven if you had watched the game in TV relaxing at the couch in your home?” I asked.

“Absolutely! I would have seen all the actions, all the replays, heard all the expert comments!”

“…and you would have saved quite some bucks, escaped from the burning sun, from the unwanted headache…” I completed the sentence and he nodded.

“How about your friends?”

“Ah! They all seemed to have a freaking time at the stadium! They enjoyed every moment – shouting, dancing, laughing, munching and drinking…”

Now you get some idea?

Be aware to weigh pain and pleasure in advance wherever possible and then decide which one is more for you

We continued with our conversation.

“Did all in your group of friends come to the stadium?” I probed further.

“No! You know Prakash? He is an ardent cricket fan, but flatly refused to join us right at the time we planned the program”

“Did you know why?”

“To be frank, he warned me in advance about all these!”

Now you know the difference? Prakash was not fitting into herd mentality. Perhaps he too had gone through this experience earlier and learnt a valuable lesson! Despite being an ardent cricket fan, Prakash could weigh the pleasure and pain behind witnessing the game live at stadium. Having learnt that the pain, according to his demeanor, is more than the pleasure, he judiciously opted out of it.

Learning from past experience and using it in future is the key.

Be moderate in your enjoyment – any consequent pain will be far less

During my childhood, chance to eat good feasts were rare. I had a sweet tooth and also loved oily savories too. Death day remembrance ceremonies conducted at home for ancestors were occasions when we get sumptuous feast to eat. And I mostly over ate on such occasions and suffered the consequences – a sense of dislike of the feast itself at the end of eating on account of over-stuffing of the stomach, indigestion and a possible loose motion the next day!

Since fortunately I had had the tendency to analyze myself and evoke self-awareness, I became gradually more conscious as I grew up. While I still enjoyed sweets and savories offered generously at feasts, I started reducing their quantities considerably but made sure to taste a little of everything. I made it a practice that I would never eat to my full stomach in any feast. Thus I could really enjoy every variety served in the feast and never suffered out of indigestion subsequently.

This concept of moderation can be extended to all our activities whereby we seek enjoyment – foods, drinks, movies, music, going out with friends, sex, socializing, keeping awake, sleeping, working in office, study, earning money, spending money, idling, philanthropy, playing games, doing exercise, watching internet, talking in cell phone, taking medicines and so on.

When you develop moderation on things you love to enjoy, you will surprisingly find that the keenness or taste of enjoyment also grows sharper. Your focus and awareness of enjoyment will grow and you will find it deeply satisfying. For example, if you cut down your coffee intake from say 4 cups a day to two cups a day and that too with a reduced volume per intake, you can observe that the coffee tastes so extra blissful, unlike what you used to feel with higher intake!

Keep strictly away from enjoyments that society abhors

I m not saying what Bible abhors or other religious scriptures condemn. There are several things that the society you live in does not generally appreciate or accept easily as right or normal. The society may be quite pluralistic in religious faiths and hence irrespective of whether they are religion-based or not, there are things that public does not approve of.

Example: Same sex relationships, prostitution, polygamy, polyandry, stealing, illegal trading of arms, drug trafficking, terrorist activity, love jihad, bullying, black-marketing, drug addiction etc

Unfortunately, there seems to exist an extra doze of thrill in enjoying what society forbids. There is a saying in Tamil that stolen mango has an extra tinge of taste! Perhaps that “extra tinge of taste” is so alluring that people get entrapped into pleasure-seeking on things that the society forbids. May be the consequent pain does not come imminently; but it comes for sure and it will land so severely that it can cause the greatest damage.

Keeping away from things that society forbids will bring you mental peace; that peace is more worthy than the joy of indulgence.

 Enjoy in tune with your age

There is an age up to which even ‘stones can be digested’; there is an age up to which the body can take lots of abuse without showing much of reaction; there is an age up to which youthful zeal can be maintained in intimate relationships; there is an age up to which mental resilience can be quite strong.

Time and age gradually wears away many things. Indulgence in excess chocolates may not lead excess fat up to certain age, but beyond that age if you continue that indulgence, you end up suffering in obesity and cholesterol related problems. Jogging brings you good health up to certain age and then joint pains beyond that! Post thirty five, excess make up brings in a false sense of youthful look up to certain age, and then suddenly everyone seems to laugh at your wrinkles despite your best efforts to hide them!

Whether eating, drinking, sex, dress, mingling, singing, dancing or any such thing, do what is right in tune with your age. If not, you will end up with more pain than pleasure.

Accept some pain for the sake of worthy pleasure or for avoiding a bigger pain

If waking up early is a pain for you, then that pain is worth accepting if you can avoid the pain of peak-hour traffic woes, by starting early to office. If the pain of compulsorily saving some money instead of spending it carefree is undergone, then you will enjoy a debt-free life at later stages of life. If doing regular physical exercises is found boring and painful to you, then by forcefully engaging yourself in it, you will be able to enjoy a good physical health in the long run.

Desire to maximize joy is the innate nature of every living being. The above 6 guidelines can help you to a fair extent in this effort. But always remember: Between enjoyment and peace, there is a huge difference. Matured is the one who looks for achieving peace in life rather than enjoyment out of life.