Truth Of Life ► 02 ► [2.4] The Issues - 12 - Preachers

Posted: 03.06.2008

The Art & Science Of Living

Chapter 2.

The Issues

12

Preachers

[Generally people like to listen to the teacher who sets examples by practising. One becomes a doer only when one drops ones ego, develops politeness and sits at the feet of his spiritual master. The real, bona fide master is one who teaches by his exemplary conduct and behaviour. Teaching without practising results in ego clashes, conflicts and controversies. You can teach after experiencing and living those experiences, you can never teach by mere sermons.]

Man tends to accept less and impose more. It is pleasant to teach others and it becomes unpleasant to be taught. The law of the universe is that if one does not obey himself then nobody obeys him. People are more interested in listening to the practitioner than to a mere teacher. That is why a disciple is taught to sit near his Guru, listen to him and serve him. You cannot attain politeness in your conduct unless the spirit of service has awakened in you. Unfortunately, there is a wall between two persons, which cannot be crossed with the help of a ladder. The wall between them is not only difficult to be removed but sometimes impossible to cross over. This wall is the ego. Every person has his own wall of ego. The spirit of service descends only in the person who shatters the wall of ego. As long as this wall remains, you cannot listen to others at all. In spite of sitting near your Guru, you will remain aloof because the wall of the ego remains active and effective.

The major rule of sadhana and success in life requires the removal of this wall of ego. The annihilation of the ego is essential to enable the meeting of two people amicably. When ego collapses, people come together despite being different. The person who is egoless is polite and ultimately realises the truth. In the words of Mahavira, the most fruitful achievement is that of politeness, which can be developed by serving others. Such a person inspires many creatures on the path of politeness by his own conduct and behaviour.

An officer from the family planning department was on tour. Some came to know about his family background. An outspoken man said to him, "How can you preach family planning? You yourself have ten children, therefore how can you talk about family planning?" Nobody accepts teachings from those who do not practice their teachings themselves. A Guru's teachings are accepted and adopted without doubt and hesitation. It is very unfortunate that most self claimed teachers do not follow their own teachings and keep preaching to others.

We have often observed that people who have served at the holy feet of the spiritual master develop politeness and become a model to others. So we need a role model to follow. When a house is to be constructed, its plan is drawn up. On the basis of the design, the whole process of construction follows and a beautiful house is built. Everybody has to make his life a success, meaningful and fruitful. Many people, even after turning fifty are yet to experience a successful life. I seriously and strongly feel that the process of life improvement should continue till death. Those who perpetuate the process of a successful life tirelessly do not become old even till their death. The process of improvement in life keeps old age at bay even at the age of eighty or ninety years. Ageing people cannot be creative and innovative. Our process of life improvement ought to go on and we need a model to follow. Who can be an ideal model? Only a person who has synthesized politeness with his conduct and behaviour deserves to be an ideal model. He alone can inspire others. You may give many sermons encouraging hard work; nobody will follow or appreciate it unless an example is set. Napoleon inspired people through examples. A labourer was trying to lift up a pillar, which was very heavy. It was difficult to lift it. Even after several efforts it could not be lifted. The contractor was standing beside him watching him. Napoleon, passing by, was surprised. He said to the contractor, "Instead of standing and watching that the pillar cannot be lifted despite the maximum efforts put in by labourer, why don't you give a little bit of support to get the job done." The contractor said, "Who are you to advise me? Don't you know that I am a contractor? Why should I work with labourers and lift pillars with them?" Napoleon himself came forward and supported the labourers and the pillar was lifted up. The contractor observed, "How strange! This man does not mind helping even the labourers, whom he happens to meet on the way." He enquired, "Who are you?" Napoleon replied, "I am Napoleon." The contractor was shocked and felt ashamed. Napoleon said, "This is my address, if you need help again, do call on me. I shall be very pleased to help you." Napoleon inspired hard work by his example, which could not have been inspired by a thousand lectures on hard work. The biography of great men is read because they practised what they preached.

When Acharya Shri Tulsi was in Bombay, I had the opportunity to examine a few books by western philosophers. One book was a biography of the author in brief. I had the opportunity to read Acharanga (a Jain canonical text), which was written about two thousand and five hundred years ago. This book has eight chapters, which enunciates the philosophy of Mahavira and the ninth chapter describes the way Mahavira lived. It is interesting to note that whatever has been enunciated in the eight chapters, was lived by Mahavira as written in the ninth chapter. His life is the living example of the eight chapters of the book. Philosophy is worthwhile only if one can live according to it. Mahavira had actually practised this, not merely preached it. Philosophy, which is not practised, is absurd. Only the philosophy, which is lived, is meaningful, because it manifests through conduct and behaviour and thereby inspires others with its fragrance. How mysterious is preaching by practising and living? Live and let the world learn by your living. When you teach someone, his ego crops up and says, "You are trying to teach me, first you understand what you say and live it." Generally, a man does not like the teaching of others because his ego becomes a hurdle and a barrier. That is why he reacts strongly, "How have you come to teach me? First practise the same yourself." Once a boy came to me with his father. The father said, "He is a smoker. He smokes cigarettes and does not give it up." The son immediately reacted, "Father you yourselves smoke and expect me to quit it." This is a big problem. So, only a person who practises, and is extremely polite, can teach others.

We have established a tradition, where the acharya (teacher) has to be highly disciplined and practise greater restraint than others. Acharya Bhikshu, till today, practises this discipline. Once it was suggested to him that since he was seventy five years old, he could sit down and meditate. Acharya Bhikshu said, "If, I meditate while standing, my followers will do so while sitting. If I start meditating while sitting, then my followers will be inspired to do so while lying down." The best methodology of teaching is to cultivate politeness in your conduct and behaviour, others will be automatically inspired. When I read this philosophy, I was delighted and thrilled. According to Uttradhyan Sutra (a Jain canonical text), only he can pioneer others on the path of politeness, who has himself become conscious of the need to be polite, free from desires, and who has developed good conduct in himself. A candle lights other candles. It never preaches but it simply lights other candles and thereby inspires others.

Acharyas are like candles and they light hundreds of candles. So they have to remain enlightened to keep lighting others. The acharya has to be more controlled, more cautious and more awakened. The person, who has given service sitting at the feet of the holy master and become polite has to remain awakened. In the present environment, this has to be expressly understood that teaching should be performed not merely by words but by deeds. People dedicated to the practice of Prekshadhyana, are doing the same by evolving such a life pattern, which is more pragmatic and practical so that ideals are taught by the virtue of self-practice, good conduct and behaviour. Ideal teachings merge with life to flourish into a realisation, which inspires others too.

A gentleman was sharing his four years of experience of Prekshadhyana. His experience was unique. It was not learnt through words but by self-conduct and practice.

Ascetics (men and women) of Terapanth (a Jain sect started in 1817) walk thousands of mile. Every year they get together at a place defined by the acharya and again from there, they move to different parts of India in accordance with the instruction of the acharya. They usually cover thousands of miles of the journey enthusiastically and zestfully. All of them are not youngsters. The instruction of the acharya is supreme for them. They may have just come from Nepal and immediately they may have to proceed to Nepal again or to Calcutta, still they will abide by the acharyas wishes without me slightest hesitation. The root cause of the blind following of the acharyas instructions is that, he himself works so hard that they consider their labour negligible in comparison. Once the ex-president of India, Fakhruddin, said to an acharya, "I pray that Jain Vishwa Bharati should develop, but you should not sit at one place. In case, you get seated then you can never keep others standing, others cannot be inspired."

Whatever is taught by conduct and practice cannot merely be taught by words. This mystery has been revealed in Uttradhyansutra (a Jain canonical text). On understanding this reality, one can assimilate the essence of preaching.

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