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HARNESSING THE HEART - PART 10
Living Up to the Challenge of Conscience in Daily Life

Harnessing the Heart
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Dear Reader, in this series, we offer you real life stories from contemporary heroes who have demonstrated the courage to follow their conscience when confronted with difficult dilemmas or challenging circumstances in their daily lives. This segment is an ode to the strength of the brave-hearts who chose to listen to the voice of their conscience, thereby abiding by the values of Right Conduct, Truth, Love, Peace and Non-violence, even though the choice had appeared tough.

In our previous issues, we brought you inspiring stories from Mrs. Priya K-Alldis, Mr. Dev Taneja, Mr. C. B. S. Mani, Mr. Karthik Ramesh, Mr. Amar Vivek, Mr. Krish Venkatasubramaniam, Mr. Hiten Morarji, Mr. N. Prabhakar and Mr. Sathya Jambunathan. (click here to go to Harnessing Archives.)

How do we react when faced with a corrupt railway official who demands a bribe for a berth? Do we succumb to allay our comfort, or turn away and strengthen our moral fibre? How about a tetchy colleague at work – do we grin and bear it, feeling disturbed inside; or shout back; or win him over with tact and good will. What decides our choices? Is it our past life’s karma, our conditioning, or higher conscience? The current article explores all these issues in a frank and fresh style, which might well lead you to reflect on your own life and its difficult moments. As the author, Mr. U. Pardha Saradhi, states, it is only when we come up against adversity that we know the inner work of purification still to be done - then we can make the required progress in our life’s journey to reach the final destination gloriously.

AND STOP NOT TILL THE GOAL IS REACHED!

By Mr. U. Pardha Saradhi

Mr. U. Pardha Saradhi is a Sai youth, originally from Andhra Pradesh, India, who is currently working as a Senior Software Expert in Cyprus. After completing his Masters in Pilani, India, he worked in France and India, before moving to Cyprus. Having been in the fold of Sai for over ten years, he considers Bhagavan Baba as the guiding force behind every phase in his life, taking him closer to his inner self through the various events designed in his life.

Follow the Master!

Sometimes the whole world says one thing and deep down inside, you know it isn't going to work that way.

It was last December (2007) that I was asked to implement this new software testing tool. I was the first one to work with it; no one really had an iota of an idea on how consistently problematic it was. The management had high hopes of its success and expected results in very short timelines. The people I had to work with were new to their roles, and the tool posed many challenges. To satisfy the managers, who were not ready to agree that the tool was too primitive, and were beginning to doubt my efficiency, the only way I figured was to give them a quick but a weak solution. It would show them the glittering results that would fill their hearts for the moment, but might not be good for the company on a long run. But I said to myself that I would only provide a full-fledged solution, even if it meant taking more time initially. Though I myself had little belief in my ideas, I could not but follow the dictates of the Master within.

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So, when the tool was built, it was on a strong foundation and when the results showed up, the same people, who doubted me, appreciated me! Yes, people desert you, and later embrace you - all for their own reasons; but, the voice of the Master inside remains constant - the only unchanging and reliable guide. Only the path it shows can bring a complete solution and true solace to the heart.

Yet, not all times, the beauty of following the inner voice is so apparent; thorns which prick the skin mercilessly can strew one’s way and we have to be prepared to endure them. A few years ago, I was traveling to Puttaparthi with my mother, grandmother, aunt and sister. A couple of tickets were under R.A.C (Reservation after Cancellation), which meant only one berth would be given per two passengers.

We got into the train which seemed to have a few vacant berths. In any case, we waited for the Ticket Collector. He came to us and asked right away for a bribe in order to give us the extra berth that we needed. I refused to pay him the money, and he refused to give us the berth. We somehow adjusted ourselves in the berths that we got officially. In the middle of the night, to make sure that atleast my grandmother got enough place to rest in the berth, I spent my time sitting on a suitcase near the toilets. The ticket collector was watching it all; and there were some vacant berths too. Still, he did not care to give me one.

By the time I reached Puttaparthi, I had a whole sleepless night. I was not sure if on seeing me stick to the path of righteousness, despite the physical suffering, the ticket collector felt anything. But when I questioned myself about what I got from the experience, I realised that only this act in this situation brought a meaning to my journey to the abode of the One who has taught right conduct through every act of His, right from day One of His advent. This was the only satisfaction that I derived from the incident, as well as knowing that I had sacrificed a comfortable night’s sleep for the sake of my dear grandmother.

Face the Devil!

Once you start to rely on your inner promptings, then the inputs from the world, the external support, is cut off even more, so as to strengthen the spirit further. And the enemies become more internal than external.

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I was under the impression that I had no serious threat from the enemy called anger until I met this colleague, Harry. I was asked to allot tasks to Harry and execute a crucial project on which there was a lot of attention from our company's customer, but Harry would just not co-operate with me. He was rude to me all the time, never caring to complete the tasks given to him. Escalating this issue wasn’t going to help me, as he had strong support from the senior management with whom he had a personal bond.

This was not a professionally encouraging situation, but I had to deal with it. However obligingly I spoke to Harry, he would only give me harsh answers, and the work was just not progressing. Every interaction with him was a challenge to my peace of mind. I now had only two choices: Stop sharing work with Harry and do it all myself; or face him and try to make the collaboration work. I took the first option; it was the easier one. I had to work longer hours, but on the other hand, my mind was at peace. But soon enough, I strongly felt that by avoiding Harry, I was actually missing a spiritual exercise which God intended me to go through. Had Harry been a part of my physical family, it wouldn't have been so simple to escape him, after all.

So, I changed my mind and started sharing work with Harry again. Every day, before going to work, I would pray to God ardently, to make me treat the rudeness of Harry with composure and without hatred. I would strive all the time, to look upon him as an actor in the play which was devised to teach me patience. And at the end of what seemed to be two long months, the project was a big success! We got special rewards and appreciation from the customer. But the thing that made me smile was the fact that Harry also got engrossed a lot as the project progressed; he gave his best and we had a good time over all. And even more interesting than this was the lesson that the entire episode taught me.

Initially, I tried to run away from Harry seeking peace by remaining alone. But then unless there is someone to challenge your patience, how will you ever know how much of it you really got in there? It was a clear practical lesson to me in treating life as a drama and my colleagues and friends as co-actors. The Lord was the conscience inside, indicating to me not to avoid it, but to take up the challenge, saving me from passing on with the unidentified defect of anger inside.

Fight to the End!

My last vacation in this April (2008) had even more profound lessons. Neither the decision on the course of action, nor its execution would be straightforward. And the results of it would only reveal their grandeur over time, when pondered with a mind free from attachment.

Vijayamma, my sweet grandmother, was diagnosed with cancer. I actually work in an island called Cyprus, away from my family which stays in India. And I got this news through a telephone call. It was impossible for me not to cry every time I thought of this development even after weeks. But I was sure of one thing, that I would take her to Prasanthi Nilayam. This idea, however, was totally unacceptable to most of my family members, who felt that my grandmother who was unable to stay even 10 minutes at a stretch in the sitting position, may not be able to able to survive the trip. She had adenocarcinoma (cancer) of stomach, and would vomit everything, even a few gulps of water that she took.

I flew back and saw her with my own eyes. She had become so thin, and I just could not bear the sight. In all the distressing shock, I proposed again to take her to Prasanthi Nilayam. Against many odds, and umpteen disagreements, I finally did bring her to Puttaparthi. And she could eat the Prasadam (meals) from the South Indian canteen, without vomiting, which was the only wish she had for herself. She was, indeed, speaking normally and quite incredibly, sat happily in the Sai Kulwant Hall for six hours everyday! Everyone around was astonished! From where did she get this energy, they wondered. The step that I took by listening to my conscience, thus, only made everyone happy.

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And when we came back from Puttaparthi, the story took even more uncertain turns. She became extremely weak and we started giving her intravenous fluids continuously and every now and then blood infusion. Finally, at one point, the doctor strongly advised me that continuing this further would only increase her pain and suffering terribly, since it was impossible to find veins on her extremely fragile body.

I turned to my inner voice again. Should I increase her suffering by giving her more fluids for sustenance or just resign myself to the inevitable? Everyone around was asking me to give up. Much against the wishes of everyone and the doctor herself, I requested the doctor to go ahead with blood transfusion. I had no greater medical knowledge than the doctor to contradict her; I only knew I had to 'fight to the end' and not give up in the middle.

After the transfusion was done, the doctor was surprised to see how my grandmother picked up brightness. I remember the words the doctor said to me in my mother tongue, Telugu, that day. Looking at his rejuvenated patient, he said to me, "Mothaaniki saadhinchaavu" (You did it, finally!). But I knew who the doer was! The next few days when my grandmother remained in her role on earth, were the days when the entire family, whether they believed in God or not, cheered up and chanted God's name continuously and recounted His glory. All those who had disagreements over the various decisions that I had taken, now came together as one family and shared the joy. There was a devotional atmosphere all around with bhajans and stories of the Lord!

My grandmother passed away peacefully on a Thursday, leaving us all the memories of those days spent in constant contemplation of the Lord. Had we given up earlier, it would have just been a sad memory; but now – we remember the whole experience as a period of devotional upheaval in the hearts of everyone in the family. While Vijayamma, my grandmother, played her role in this drama embodying absolute faith and unbelievable patience, it was a deep exercise to all of us to just believe in ourselves and walk through the night in hope.

Finish the Game!

What the Lord has taught me through this experience is something amazing. Listening to the conscience is not a one-time job; it is not just a Yes/No, Go/No-Go decision that is taken at the spur of the moment. It is making the choice with faith in the self and Self, and thereby, facing all the odds that might come as a result with a smile, and living for it with the same enthusiasm till the game is finished.

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During the days when my grandmother was sick, if for two days she appeared healthy, the next day she would turn extremely weak and vomit everything. Do I smile for two days and droop down on the next day? Where should I search for an unabated joy and peace? In this life as such, if there is a period of what is supposed to be "all is well", it might as well slip into "nothing is going right" phase sometime soon. Now, where is the permanent bliss that was promised by the Almighty?

Bhagavan Baba explains in “Rama Katha Rasavahini” that the war between Ram and Ravana is not a one-time event, but it is what happens in the heart of every man, all the time. Every minute, the mind is faced with choices between good and bad, eternal and ephemeral. Despair and despondence are bound to strike when one is attached to the temporal. But joy is bound to manifest when one sticks boldly to his path of discovering the inner light within oneself.

There is a voice which constantly asks us not to fall for the urges of the senses, to be careful and not get carried away by praise and blame. It invites us into a universe of peace and changeless joy within, despite all the turbulence and the darkness outside.

The conscience is the torch each of us carries in this world filled with darkness of maya. Taking one step in the path lighted up by the torch does not finish the journey. We need to tread it all unswervingly, minimizing the false steps.

Just as a traveler of a chariot gives control to the charioteer who would thereby, slowly and patiently train the horses to travel on the right path, man has to the surrender the control to the Divine Charioteer, the Sanathana Sarathi, who as his inner conscience would harness his heart to travel on the path of Dharma and thereby take him to the destination, the Ultimate Truth.

Illustrations: Anuj, Rahul, Sai Krishna and Sai Ram, SSSU.


Dear reader, if you know of any such inspiring personality, please do share the story with us and we would only to be too happy to feature it in this section of Heart2Heart. After all, what is heart2Heart without tales of love, inspiration, values and compassion? You can write to us at [email protected]


 

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Vol 6 Issue 09 - SEPTEMBER 2008
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