What cricket can teach us about life 3
Congregation Program in the Middle East
Transcribed by: Sadananda Krishna Prema Das
Chaitanya Charan Prabhu: Most Indians, hear about Sarjah as primarily associated with cricket. So, yesterday and today morning I spoke on the theme of what cricket can teach us about life? So, I will continue that theme and I will speak about how cricketers… I was asked to speak on the topic of how to help our children grow in…grow properly. So, I will talk about that on the cricket metaphor of how a coach grooms talent in cricket, and similarly how we can help our wards, our children to also grow.
Now, cricket is a very popular sport in India, and it is not even known in other parts of the world. In America till recently, the people were asked about cricket, they would think about the insect named cricket. They had no idea. So, yet on one side, the specific sports may not be very popular, but the idea of sports is universal.
In America, what people love is Baseball which is a similar sport. Now in all sports, essentially there is basic talent that is required. Some batsmen are just phenomenal. The range of shots that they can hit… or some bowlers are brilliant, how they can make a bowl turn, how they can deliver the bowl so precisely, whether he is a spin or a fast bowler. They also have extraordinary talents, and yet if you look at the history of cricket, there are many talented players who actually didn’t do all that well, and there are some other players, who may have had medium talents, but they did very well, relatively speaking. So, you know, talent is important in life, but talent is not all that is important. Many times in our lives we compare ourselves with others, and we compare…. like your parents may compare our children with other children, or they may compare one child with another child, if you have several children. So, at one level comparison is natural. Even in a competitive society we all have to achieve something’s in life. We may want to… say get a slot in the engineering college, or medical seat, and there is unlimited number of seats for that. So, completion itself is unavoidable in life, but our focus cannot be only on the competition.
When the athletes are practicing, it’s not that different athletes are all together, trying to practice. The primary focus of the athletes is not competing against each other. Their primary focus is competing against the clock. If it is a hundred meter sprint… yesterday I did that in 15 seconds or whatever time it is, and now today I will do it in maybe half a second. So, basically if there is comparison to be done, the healthiest comparison is to do the comparison with oneself. Now, what I was and what I am. So, comparing ourselves with ourselves helps us to see on what track we are. Based on the talents that we have… some people may be phenomenally talented. And if a person, who is not talented, starts comparison himself with a person who is very talented, that person will always feel inferior. Some bowlers, they will just swing the bowl anywhere… they have a amazing array of kind of bowls that they can bowl. There are spin bowlers, they may be genius. Some other spin bowler may not have that much talent, but that bowler has discipline. That bowler has consistency. He bowls a controlled line and length. So, if now this bowler starts comparing with some other bowler who can very well in various ways, this bowler will feel inferior. But the bowler will say, ‘Ok, this is what I can do. Let me do this way.’
So, actually talent is important, but along with talent… if we want success in life, there are three things – there is talent and then there is temperament. So, talent and temperament together lead to achievement. So, now our basic level of talent can’t be changed. We can hone our talents. Hone means we can improve by practice, by training, by exposure, but basic level of talent can’t be changed. If somebody, who has some level of musical efficiency, they cannot become like Mozart or some other musical genius, but from where they are, they can improve.
So, quite often in today’s world, specially, because we live in a very interacted world. So, we can see people from this part of the world and that part of the world. So, if we watch movies, we may see the kind of luxuries people have in America, or people have in other very prosperous counties, and it has been found in the human psychology that most people get their sense of self-worth by comparing themselves with others. So, if I am having a group and if I find, ‘Ok, I am among the better people in this group.’ You know if it is financial group, then I earn more than others. Then people will feel that I am someone special. If they are in a group, where everyone is earning more than them, then they will feel insecure, they feel inferior. Now, what our society does today, our culture does is, it actually often shows us… showcases the best in everything. So, if it is looks on the movies, in the ads, we may see the people who are the best in it, who look good, very attractive, and then what happens after that? When we look at ourselves, we may feel, ‘I don’t look that good or whatever.’
You know, once I was in a college. There one boy had written on his tee shirt… it was a typical, mundane joke. Sometimes people put provocative statements. It says, ‘90% of the world’s woman is beautiful. The remaining 10% are in my college.’ So, what he means is…that actually… how does he know what 90% of the woman are, he doesn’t know, but he is getting that idea based on comparing whatever he is seeing in the movies, in the media, and then he say, ‘in real life people are not that good looking.’ So, that is very gross, but the point is that, if we start comparing ourselves or our children or whatever, with the ideal that is depicted in the media, in the movies, then we become… we actually feel inferior or we create a feeling of inferiority in others. That’s why it is important to accept people for what they are. We can’t people into… we can’t shape people according to our desires. People are what they are. They can be definitely shaped, but they cannot be, they cannot be shaped into something which they are not.
So, if the coach thinks, ‘I want to make this player into a bowler.’, but that player is primarily a batsman. That player can be a good batsman, but the coach tells him, ‘No, you bowl.’… ‘But I want to bat’…. He tries to bowl and bowl, but he can’t bowl so well, and he says, ‘You are not sincere. You work harder.’ Well, if the player is a batsman, he can improve to some extent as a bowler, but then the real strength is that as a batsman. So, it is important for a good coach… now the coaches also sometimes have requirements. In this team, we need so and so player, but they cannot change, they cannot make a tail ender bowler into an opening batsman. The tail ender bowler can also bat sometimes, but the basic point is that many times we may try to force our children into a mould that they don’t belong to, and that’s not what they are meant to be.
Krishna talks in the Bhgavat Gita about
cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ
He says that basically there are four kinds of people. The point of that is not just to divide people. It’s not that, ‘ok, is my child or a ksatriya or what?’ That may be difficult for to decide, but point is… see, in every system of classification, there are specifics and there are universals. Now, the specifics are these four divisions, but the universal principle is that different people are differently endowed, and when they are differently endowed, they need to be engaged accordingly. So, if a person is an intellectual and we tell them to do physical work, they just don’t have the body, they don’t have the mind, they will just get drained out completely. On the other hand, if somebody is suited for doing physical work and you tell them, ‘somebody has got a building and they need a lot of physical work… tell them ‘study books for eight hours every day’ they will just not be able to do it. So, much as we may desire people to… people are referred to our children, our wards, whoever they are. To be in a particular wave, we have to recognize that they are who they are, and we can only after accepting them who they are, we can help them to improve. But if we have too much of desire, what happens with parents that, they want to project themselves into their children. I wanted to become something, but I was not able to do that. You become like that.
So, once there was a court case between a husband and a wife. The husband said, ‘I want my son to become an engineer.’ the wife said, ‘No, I want my son to become a doctor.’, and they went to the court. The judge said, ‘Why do have to have such a big fight over this? Ask your son, what does he want to become.’ They said, ‘No, we can’t ask him.’… ‘Why not?’… ‘He is not yet born.’ (laughter) So, sometimes we just project our desires on others so much that they are not even bothered fighting you know, what should they become.
So, actually everyone is an individual. So, expertise of a coach. Now, whenever they talk about a coach, the coach discovers a new talent. The coach never creates a new talent. There are coaches who are always watching… they may go to some local, state level. If there is a national coach, he may go to the local state level play, championships or cricket tournaments, and see who plays well. ‘ ‘Hey this is a good person.’, they may even go to district level, they may hear someone, but they are doing, they are spotting new talent, they can’t create new talent. Talent exists, we spot it, and we discover it.
So, parenting is more of a nature of discovering, it is not of the nature of creation. See, even when husband and wife get united, they create a child. We know that they are not really creating the person. They are giving body to a soul. So, the person is already there and a particular soul comes into a particular body, at a particular time. So, normally speaking, because the body has come from the parents, that’s why the children usually have some similarity with the parents, maybe their eyes, their nose, their complexion or whatever, but there are also cases where sometimes some children have some talents which is just not there in the parents. For example, I was talking about the musical genius, Mozart. Whether his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, nobody in that generation was as musically… anywhere as musically endowed as he was. So, what does this mean? It’s not just come by their genes. It’s not just come from their parents. So, who we are, that is actually… the body we get from our parents, and that upbringing of the parents also shapes us, but the child is a soul on its own, and sometimes the child may develop or manifest characteristics, which are quite different from the parents.
So, when we want to help our children to grow, it is… if we try to project our desires on them, ‘ this is what I want you to do, and this is what you should do.’ Sometimes the children may be able to do it, and sometimes they may not be able to do it. So, we have to see that whether our desire for them is matching with their talents. If our desires for them and talents are not matching…basically the expertise of varnasrama was what? In Varsnasram, the idea is that everybody has to face problems in life. Sometimes people say, ‘we should think positively. Don’t think of problems as problems. Think of them as challenges. Think of problems positively as challenges. That’s a good advice, but at the same time you know we can only think of certain problems as challenges, and other problems we will simply see as burdens. So for example, if somebody is from a brahminical intelligence, and then we tell them, ‘In the Bhagavtam there is a verse which says that actually give charity to a devotee, that charity is returned manifold. Can you find that verse?’ Now say, if somebody is of a vaisya mentality, we tell them to find this. He would say, ‘You know that in the Bhagavatam there are thousands of verses baba, who will find one verse, if you want to give the class, give the class without the verse, who is going to notice.’ For that person, to find a verse is like a big burden, and suppose he is brahminical person, ‘Come on, I will find the verse.’ Eagerly he is searching… they will eagerly do that. So, for them, because that is their interest, that is their talent, so they can see that problem as a challenge. On the other hand, say somebody is of a vaisya mentality, and we tell them, ‘We want to build a nice temple. So, we have to raise funds now.’ He will say, ‘Now we have something to do you know. Some challenge is there. Something exciting is there.’, but then if we tell the same thing to a person who is a brahmana. That brahmana will say, ‘After you build a temple, what are you going to do? Ultimately you are going to do kirtan, you are going to do katha, we will do it now, why you have to spend so much money, use so much effort, just chant Hare Krishna and be happy.’ So, what happened, for a person who is an intellectual building a temple may just seem like a big burden. So, the point I am making is that, what problem we will face, we will perceive as a challenge, and we problems we will perceive as a burden, that is not the same for everyone. Depending on one’s interest, depending on one’s talents, we will be able to perceive some problems as challenges, and others will remain as burdens.
Now, life requires us to be flexible. That means that sometimes in life we have to do the things which we may not like to do. Sometimes there are burdens which we have to bear, but we can bear burdens in life, but we can’t bear life as a burden. That means if throughout our life, we have to do everything which we don’t like to do. If our very job is something, which not only I don’t like, but I hate, then I just cannot survive over there. We will get psychologically damaged by that. So, certainly life requires us to make adjustments. We never do things that we like to do all the time, but if you have to do always things which you don’t like to do, then you will be miserable, and the whole principle of varnasrama was to overall engage people according to their natural tendencies. So, same way we cannot have the… it’s quite difficult to have today the varnasrama vision of society, but we can look at our children and see that what are our talents, what are their interests, and help them to grow. Everybody has to compete in today’s world, and for that everybody requires a certain level of performance in certain fields, but that should not be the sole barometer of the calibre of the child. If you can’t get marks in your exams, then you are useless. That should never be… or worst… ‘You know, their son gets so much marks, and you, why don’t you get marks?’ That is very damaging… that kind of comparison. Comparison is unavoidable, it will actually be there, but if you consciously make comparisons like that, it can be quite damaging. Of course now we have to see the effect.
Sometimes, in some cases comparison can be stimulating, because see if both of them have similar talents and then person… talent plus temperament leads to achievement. So, both of them have more or less similar talents, but then that person has a better temperament. That person has more commitment. Then, when there is comparison… ‘You know, you also work harder. It’s possible’, and that comparison might bring out the better of the person, but even then, it is better to focus not on that person as a reference point. It is focus on one’s own potential as a reference point. This is the critical thing in coaching. A coach by the very nature of coaching, has to be aware of the coach or the players faults. That… say, a batsman shuffles too much when batting. When the bowl comes, he has to steady, or this person doesn’t keep his eyes focussed or whatever, but the coach is aware of the deficiencies of the player, but if the coach tells too much about efficiency, the player would leave. ‘You are not doing this right, you are not doing this right.’, then the player will think, ‘Whatever I am doing, he is writing, maybe I shouldn’t be playing only.’, and the player gives up playing. So, for a coach, there has to be very delicate balance. They have to tell the player what they are doing wrong, but the player should not feel discouraged.
So, correcting people without discouraging them, it’s a great art, and not just a great art, it’s a vital art. When we correct others, if that correction damages their confidence, then we often end up doing a disservice to them, because they become demoralized, and when they are demoralized they just don’t do anything. They don’t do anything, being they feel like they can’t do anything. When they feel like I can’t do anything, then there is total disheartenment. So, it’s… for a person to improve, there are basically three things required. One is, the knowledge that I need to improve. Second is the process of how to improve, and the third is the will to improve. Three things, the knowledge, the process, and the will.
In general, in anything that we are doing… if you want to become better. So, if somebody is very critical… always finding faults, then what happens is – We may think that I am doing it for my good, but now actually, I want this person to be better, but when we keep finding faults without others, our desire may be to make them better, but we make them bitter instead. Bitter means that they just… they fee bitter about us, or they feel bitter about the work itself. No, I can’t do this. Everything I start studying, everything I start doing this thing, you know, I am told, ‘This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong, maybe I should not do this only.’ Even if they do it, actually the spirit has become wounded, that spirit has practically been killed, and then they will drag their feet, somehow try to move onwards.
So, when a coach is coaching a player, what do they do? They definitely want to improve the player, and improving to some extent, requires telling what they are doing wrong, but while doing this, it is vital that the player be reassured of their basic calibre. ‘You are a good player, and you can do this, this, this. You can do this also…’ So, when there is interaction… if we interact with others, only to find faults, ‘Hey you didn’t keep your room clean. You kept your shoes here. You didn’t do your homework. You did not do this. You did not do that.’, If that is the only basis of our interaction, then the whole relationship become bitter. Although our intension is not to make them bitter, but it becomes bitter. So, the coach has to affirm the basic work of the player. The coach has to…. actually the coach’s greatest job… the coach may think that my job is… you are not bowling properly. I will tell you how to bowl properly. That is not the coach’s only job. The coach’s job is not only to give the knowledge or the process; the coach’s job is also to give the will, to inspire the will, and the good best coach is… if you look at the relationship between coaches and players, what the players remember the most. They may… ‘Ah, this coach told me, you are batting like this, but maybe you can turn a little square.’ Those are techniques that they remember, but what they remember the most is, when they were down how the coach encouraged them, when they were depressed, when they were facing criticism, how the coach encouraged them. So, those are the words that the players remember the most, and that’s what they are grateful for. So, same way specific points that we tell for correcting our children, for helping them become better, they are important, but more important than that is, what is the overall tenure of our relationship.
Now, if the main memory that has the child has is… ‘you know I was always made to feel that I didn’t live upto my parents expectations.’ If that is what the child remembers about the parents… they had so much expectations, I couldn’t live up to the expectations, then that is not a very healthy …26.18… for the relationship. The idea is that the child should remember that my parents love me, my parents encouraged me, my parents guided me, and they helped me to do this, do that, all that is there. In the Bhagavat Gita, we could consider that also like a coach-student 26.38. So, Arjuna at the start.. if you see in the Bhagavat Gita, Krishna doesn’t have to tell Arjuna anything about how to fight archery, how specifically to play. It’s like say, the world cup finals, and before that the coach gives a talk to the players. At that time, if the team has already come to the World Cup Finals… the team basically knows how to bat, how to bowl. At that time if the coach gives a talk before the players go out to play… at that time, the coach will not tell, ‘You know when you bowl, you bowl like this, you bowl like that..’ The coach will basically inspire them. ‘This is the most important match of your life. Billions of people will be watching. Just do your best. You will remember this next 6 hours throughtout your life, and if you do well here, then whatever else you do in your life, that won’t. This is what is going to be your greatest memory. Go out and perform.’ Basically just inspire them. So, like that if we see what Krishna does to Arjuna in the Bhagavat Gita… It’s a war, and Arjuna is fighting the biggest war of his life. The war for which he has been preparing throughout his life, and while he is preparing like this, while he is just on the verge of fighting that war, Arjuna loses his nerve, and when the Bhgavat Gita is spoken, it is just before a war is about to start. You have to understand how dramatic the setting of the Bhagavat Gita is.
Just compare, that there is World Cup Final, and there are thousands and thousands of spectators over there. In the stadium, there are millions that are watching… on television, and the toss has been done, the batsman have come… The bowler is about to be in the run up, about to start the run and bowl, and at that time, the batsman calls the non-striker, and the batman and the non-striker start talking, and they talk, and they keep talking, and they keep talking. Not just for 30 seconds, not just for one minute, but five minutes, ten minutes, one hour they keep talking, and now everybody will become restless. What is this? It’s a World Cup Final. Everybody is waiting for the match to be played. Why are they talking like this? Sometimes, some players do gamesmanship. Gamesmanship means what? If one batsman is very much in form, then what the bowler will try to do? The bowling captain may just try to slow down the game. Now slow down the game, and try to break the rhythm of the player. So, basically when we know that we are not doing so well, and the other team is doing well, then we may try to delay the playing so that the tide may change. There is a player in tennis who keeps doing this all the time. So, this always happens.
Now if we know that this batsman and the non-striker are not that kind of gamesman. They are not doing any trick to delay the process. They are very good, honest, talented , but simple players. Then, you will wonder… if they are talking and talking and talking, on the pitch while the World Cup match is about to start, there must be something really serious they are talking about, something really serious. So, actually the Bhagavat Gita setting is like that. One of the biggest wars is going to take place, the conches have been blown, everybody has taken out their bow and arrow, and are about to fight. At that time, Arjuna tells Krishna,
senayor ubhayor madhye
rathaṁ sthāpaya me ‘cyuta
Please take my chariot in between the two armies, and then Arjuna becomes overwhelmed, ‘How can we fight?’
Kin… Govindam… tusthim bhavuwaha
Arjuna says, ‘I cannot fight Govinda’, and then they start talking, and then they kept talking. So, just by the setting of the Gita we understand that this is something extraordinary. There must be something desperately urgent, because of which they are talking like this.
Now, if the opposing team captain is a very confrontational type of person, and he goes to the umpire and complains, ‘Why are they talking so much?”, but if they opposite team captain is also a sports manly person, he will say that, ‘ they are talking like this, there must be something very serious, let them talk.’ So, Bhisma is like that sports manly opposing captain. Now, when he see Krishna and Arjuna talking, he raises his hand, ‘Tell this warriors to stop.’, and they all lower their bow and wait, and the discussion of Krishna and Arjuna goes on. So, the point I was making here is, in the Bhagavat Gita doesn’t tell Arjuna anything about how to fight the war, in terms of which astra you use, how to defeat which enemy, what phalanx to form….It doesn’t talk anything about war strategies at all. He doesn’t talk anything about the specifics of archery at all. Krishna is actually simply inspiring Arjuna. He is restoring Arjuna’s moral, He is boosting Arjuna’s determination, his willpower.
At the start of the Bhagavat Gita, Arjuna puts aside his bow discouraged.
visṛjya sa-śaraṁ cāpaṁ
śoka-saṁvigna-mānasaḥ (B.G. 1.46)
Arjuna puts aside his bow, and says, ‘I can’t fight’, he is discouraged. śoka-saṁvigna, he is overwhelmed with grief. By the end of the Bhagavat Gita, in 18.78, it is said
yatra yogeśvaraḥ kṛṣṇo
yatra pārtho dhanur-dharaḥ
Here it is described Partha… Arjuna, who is Dhanurdhara. This is not just an attribute of Arjuna. This is actually the action of Arjuna at that time, that he had picked up his bow, and he is ready to fight. So, Arjuna’s Gandiva bow represents our determination. When we face problems in life, we lose our determination, we lose our confidence, we lose our will-power, and we…33.40. ‘ I can’t do this.’
Sometimes a student may find a subject very difficult to study, and he would say, ‘I just can’t do this. I give up on it.’
visṛjya sa-śaraṁ cāpaṁ
Arjuna says, ‘I can’t do it.’ So, what happens is at that time, Krishna’s role as a coach is not to tell Arjuna what is wrong or how to set it right. It is just primarily to inspire him, and that is what Krishna does to Arjuna.
So, in our life also we will see that, actually sometimes we may get discouraged, or those who are trying to train them, get discouraged. So, the Gita’s message is not simply to correct us, ‘You are wrong, you are wrong.’ Actually, the most important help that we can offer people, is not correcting the specific wrongs that they doing. It is actually inspiring the right spirit within them.
There was a British author, who said that, ‘I never allowed my schooling to interfere with my education.’ Normally we think that schooling is the education. We go to school to get educated, but quite often when the schooling is very standardised, then everybody has to study this subject or that subject, then the child’s own talents may not be developed. So, the child has talents, and those talents have to be separately developed.
‘I never allowed my schooling to interfere with my education.’ So, the point of schooling is not just to tell people, ‘This is to be done, that is to be done.’ This facts have to be memorized. That’s ok, but it is to bring out the inner spirit within them. So, if that spirit is awakened, then they will themselves be motivated and they will achieve wonderful things. So, we see that in the middle of the Bhagavat Gita, around the sixth chapter, Arjuna starts saying… Sometimes Arjuna starts thinking that it is very difficult.
Krishna talks about controlling the mind, and Arjuna says,
yo ’yaṁ yogas tvayā proktaḥ
etasyāhaṁ na paśyāmi
cañcalatvāt sthitiṁ sthirām
He says, ‘Krishna ! what process you have told me, it is impossible for me.
cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa
pramāthi balavad dṛḍham
tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye
vāyor iva su-duṣkaram (B.G. 6.34)
So, the mind is restless and it is turbulent. It is obstinate, and controlling it is as difficult as controlling a raging wind, which means that I can’t do it.
And now, what does Krishna tells Arjuna in response? Krishna doesn’t say, ‘You are insincere.’
mano durnigrahaṁ calam
abhyāsena tu kaunteya
vairāgyeṇa ca gṛhyate
asaṁśayaṁ mahā-bāho, I am undoubtedly… mano durnigrahaṁ calam, it’s very difficult to control the mind.
So, before people will understand us, they have to feel that we have understood them. Before people will understand what we are saying, they have to feel that we have understood them.
Suppose, we go to a doctor, and after that immediately he says, ‘You have to take this, this medicine. You have to take this injection, and then we will do the surgery.’ The patient will say, ‘I didn’t tell you even one symptom. So, how are you prescribing this?’ The doctors can say that he can see the symptoms, like your skin has become discoloured, your pigments have become discoloured whatever. The doctor may be able to see it immediately also, but still the doctor has to make sure that the patient feels that I have heard him. If somebody prescribes without diagnosis, or somebody prescribes after diagnosis, but the patient feels that I have not been diagnosed only. Then the patient will not take the treatment properly. So, what Krishna does to Arjuna is, He empathises with Arjuna. He says, ‘Yes I understand, this is difficult.’, but after acknowledging the difficulties He says, ‘ It is difficult, but it is possible.’
abhyāsena tu kaunteya
vairāgyeṇa ca gṛhyate
If you see this two points: abhyāse & vairāgye, this are not new points. Essentially Krishna has told earlier also. This abhyase means consistent practice. Vairagya means detachment. So, what Krishna has told from 6.10 to 6.32… and Arjuna has objected in 6.34. Krishna in 6.35, repeats more or less the same thing, but Krishna empathises with Arjuna, and that empathy is what works over there. Arjuna feels understood. So, something may be very easy for us, but something may be difficult for others.
Krishna starts speaking the whole Bhagavat Gita from His perspective. His perspective is the God’s perspective. If He speaks from that perspective… Now, God He is omnipotent. For Him nothing is very difficult. For Him, He can easily control the mind. Krishna may tell Arjuna, ‘You are insincere. You should just control the mind. What is the difficulty?’ Actually it is not easy. For Arjuna it is not easy, and Krishna has to see from Arjuna’s perspective. So, the coach may have been a champion bowler who has retired now, and has become a coach. Now, somebody may be a rookie bowler, who has just started playing. If the coach starts seeing from the perspective of the champion bowler, ‘You just bowl the bowl on the middle stump. Why are you straying your line like this?’ Now, that bowler who has just started practicing may not have that much control over line and length. It will come by practice. Sometimes we say, I will put that person in that place because this person has been very argumentative. Actually in relationships, more important than putting others in their place is putting ourselves in their place. Don’t put others in their place, put yourselves in their place. That means that this coach thinks, ‘Ok I have been practicing bowling from 30-40 years now. This young man has been practicing for 5 years or 10 years, and he is only practicing on such pitches, with such bowls. Put yourselves in their place. Then we will be able to give guidance which will help that person. Otherwise, we may say, ‘I did my part, I gave advice, but they didn’t take it, that is their problem.’ No, a coach means that, he not only gives advice but gives advice in a way that the player seems inspired to apply it. So, the large part of the training is to inspire the trainee to keep training.
So, training is not just about the 41.28 sound of train. Training also involves inspiring the trainee to keep training, and that is what Krishna is doing to Arjuna. Krishna is telling, ‘Yes, I understand that it is difficult, but it is possible. So, when we are trying to practice, when we are trying to do anything in our life… So, I spoke till now about talents. The specific talents that children have, and those have to be tapped and developed.
Now, suppose we have a phone, and then one day we suddenly discover that the phone has some feature that we didn’t know. May be we didn’t know that the phone had a sound recorder in it, and used to carry another sound recorder to record things, and suddenly one day we find that there is a recorder in the phone, ‘it is so wonderful’. If we have some device, and we suddenly discover that it has some feature in it which we didn’t know. Then it is a delightful discovery. Now, think about it, that someday you are rummaging through your home and suddenly you find that there is a new phone somewhere, and you didn’t know that it was there only. You wonder, ‘How did it come, I didn’t know only.’ So, if you discover something new in what we have, it so wonderful.
So, for us when we get introduced to spirituality, when we start practicing bhakti or when we hear the Bhagavat Gita’s wisdom, we understand that there is a side to me which is eternal. Now I was thinking that I was living in this world, and if some accident happens or old age happens, and I die, then everything is over. Then if I come to know that there is a whole side of me that is eternal, that would be such an exciting and empowering discovery.
Aschayot pashyati kaschyanam
Those who can actually see the soul, they see it as amazing, ‘there is whole side to them that is eternal!’ So, as in cricket, if somebody is included in the team as a bowler, but then that team is in a crunch, all the top order has collapsed. Even the middle order has collapsed. That batsman goes in as a tail ender, and that batsman starts batting brilliantly… fours and sixes, and that number 10 batsman scores a century, and the previous line players have not even crossed double figures. The team say, ‘Wow, we didn’t know that we had such a good batsman in our team.’ So, like that when we discover some hidden ability in someone…when some circumstances bring it up, it is a great discovery.
So, we start practicing bhakti, and if we understand the philosophy of bhakti, it’s a discovery for us, and it’s exciting, but when we try to infuse bhakti in our children it is not a discovery for them, it is something that they got with their upbringing. So, for them it is just a part of life. It is just the way they grew up by going to temples, participating in kirtans, hearing katha. But, when the children come to teenage, at that time for them materialistic life is a discovery, whereas for us at their age spiritual life was a discovery. There are lot of things they didn’t do in childhood, which children do from materialistic background. So, at that time their energy stats going into exploring what they feel they did not get. Now, we are giving them what most children are not getting, but because that is what they have got since their childhood, they feel that they didn’t get what the child gets from a materialistic life, and they want that. They want to explore the things which they did not get, and that can be a very challenging time for the parents. Especially, when somebody come to adolescence… I was in Behrain, and I spoke to the youth over there. I talked about how navigating the emotional and social turbulence of adolescence…the talk I gave on the topic… So, basically adolescence and extremely turbulent period. Now, parents may feel you know, ‘My sweet little boy, where did he disappear?’ You know this angry, arrogant youth, who has come into that place you know.’
It’s like sometimes in a movie, there is a double role where you know there are two people who look alike, but one is a hero and the other is a villain, and then the hero suddenly plays out the villain. The villain say, ‘Hey you are such a nice person, why have you become like this?’ So, like that when the children come into adolescence they seem to change completely. The mother thinks, ‘What happened to my sweet little boy or girl.’ Actually nothing has happened to them. Just they are going through some changes. So, adolescence is a time when everyone wants to explore, and at that time also it’s a testing time both for the children and the parents, because what happens is that in childhood one’s identity is inextricably associated with one’s parents. When people ask the name of the child, they also ask who their parents are. The child’s identity is associated with the parents. Now, when they grow adults… for example, if somebody meets you, they are not going to ask who your parents are. That is not the first thing that they are going to ask. They may ask who you are, what is your profession, then what do you do, where do you stay. So, adulthood we have our identity. In our childhood our identity is inextricably associated with our parents, but in adolescence it is neither here, not there. Then in adolescence the children have not evolved their own identity, at the same time don’t want to struck in their identity as the son and daughter of so and so. They want to have their own identity, and desire for their identity often makes them explore things, do things what their parents do not want them to do. So, at that time we need to be understanding. If we just restrict them. ‘No, you should not do this.’, they may not look at time but the rebellion is building up within them, and the moment they get independence… maybe when they get physical independence they go for college, or when they get financial independence, they start earning, then all the rebellion will come out.
So, I will conclude with this point that ultimately we have to know that we can’t control others. We can only inspire them. Even Krishna Himself is God, but at the end of the Bhagavat Gita, what does He do? He tells Arjuna,
yathecchasi tathā kuru
‘Deliberate deeply and then decide what you want to do.’ Krishna doesn’t Arjuna. He gives him knowledge and intelligence, and then He say, ‘Now you decide what you want to do?” So, same way ultimately our children are souls. We are a soul, they are a soul, and they have their relationship with Krishna, we our relationship with Krishna, and they are on their own journey of spiritual evolution. They will… Krishna is in their hearts also, and they also have impressions of Krishna bhakti, but how fast they will move, what path the will chose for going towards Krishna, that is something which we can’t control. So, accepting that I will not always be able to control my children… that itself requires detachment, but that also brings perspective in a relationship. So, it’s not that if my children don’t become devotees, it is my failure. In the material life also one thinks, ‘If my child doesn’t become a doctor… parents are doctor, they feel that, Oh my life is a failure because my child didn’t become a doctor. So, just like we have 49.58 in material life, and put some expectations on the children, like that we may do the same things for the children. That is not necessary. One thing about bhakti is, that whereas some child may just not have the inclination or the intelligence to be a doctor. He just can’t become, but in bhakti…in spiritual direction, in the spiritual side of life everybody is a soul, every soul has the potential to love Krishna. So, in that sense in the childhood we have given them impressions of Krishna bhakti, and those impressions are there in their hearts, and those impressions will eventually manifest.
So, in the case of spiritual coaching, actually our job is easier because as I said, we can’t create talent, we can only spot talent and develop talent. So, as far as the talent in terms of the potential for spiritual growth is their concern, everybody has that, but although everybody has that everybody may not do at the same pace towards Krishna.
So, the mood of the Bhagavat Gita is… if you see, Krishna says,
ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
However you approach me, I reciprocate accordingly. Krishna gives so many 51.10. If you look at the third chapter of the Bhagavat Gita, He says, ‘Always think of Me.’, that is 12.8. ‘If you can’t always think of Me, then try do sadhana bhakti and fix your mind on Me for some time. You can’t do that, then work for Me, if you can’t do that then at least work in a mood of detachment and give your fruits for some good cause.’ So, Krishna gives multiple 51.30. Whatever you are, you start from there. So, Krishna’s mood is, ‘At your pace, from your place, join the race.’ That is what, at you place. ‘If you cannot practice bhakti yoga whole heartedly right now, then Ok do it at your pace, from your place…if you are not able to practice bhakti at a very high level, ok you are at this level, take one step forward, join the race. We are all in a race against time. We are all moving towards death. We all have finite amount of time. So, we can’t do everything that we want to do. So, Krishna says at your pace, from your place, join the race. Whatever steps you can take, you take and move onwards.
So, same way what we need to do is, with respect to our children… we give devotional impressions in their childhood, give them the opportunity to practice bhakti, say for the door to change, can be opened only from inside? The door to change.. is securated all the such that you can put a key, but still the latch from inside, you can’t open it. So, like that the door to personal change can be opened from inside. So, ultimately that person has to be inspired, and how can we inspire others.
You can do basically three things for them. We can give knowledge, we can provide facilities, and we can set examples. What can we do for others? Give knowledge, do this and this is the result of doing this, and if you want to do this how can you do this? You provide a facility for doing it, and set an example. Set an example means give inspiration, and after that it is between them and Krishna, and they will take it up in due course. So, if you give opportunities, they will take it up at their time they will take up enthusiastically.
In Pune, there was one devotee couple’s son. They were very dedicated devotees, but their son when he had come to his adolescence he had this exploring to do this and do that. Now the parents were mature. They gave him good counsel, but they let him do it, and one time Michael Jackson came to India. So, he wanted to go and see his show. So, he went for that show. He had to fight through traffics, spend a lot of money, and finally got to that show, and then he was in that show, and suddenly as he was hearing and watching it, suddenly it struck him that this is just noise. Even the simple kirtan in the temple was so much sweeter. What am I doing here. Now what happened… actually he did not do anything on that particular day, but all the kirtan that he had attended in his childhood… they were all as an impression there, and here he went through so much trouble to get this, and suddenly it struck him, ‘This is just noise.’
Like there is story of Bivamangal Thakur who went to Cintamani. Citamani was a society girl, and she told him, ‘if you had only worked so hard for Krishna, you would have been liberated by now.’ … ‘ It’s right.’ Nobody told him, but Krishna told him from within the heart, ‘This is just noise.’, why are you wasting your time doing this, and then after that he …55.00… and now he is not just a serious devotee, he is actually a devotee preacher, one of the leading preachers in the younger generations. So, he explored and he came back, because the impressions were there. So, we give impressions devotionally, and provide facilities and give knowledge, and set an example, and after that leave it between them and Krishna. If we make it a ego issue… if somebody is doing something wrong, we say, ‘You are doing wrong.’, and one day you will come crawling back on your knees, and admit that you were wrong and I was right. If you make it like that, even if they realize that they are wrong, they will not come back, because what happened… it has become an ego issue. So, what we should do is, we should open door and show the way, but if they don’t come in there is no need to slam the door on their face, keep the door open. Keep the door open, when they want they will come, and that’s what Krishna does for Arjuna and that is what we need to do. Provide facilities and keep the door open. Invite them, but then let them come at their pace, and you will see that in due course of time the impressions that were given in the childhood will act. They have got the higher taste of Krishna Conscious, and that will bring them to Krishna sooner or later.
I spoke about what cricket can teach about life. I primarily focussed on coaching. In that I spoke about how coaches cannot create talent, they can only spot and develop talent. So, a coach cannot make a bowler into a batsman, and similarly we, if we try to project our unfulfilled expectations on our children, and try to make them into something which they are not, that will cause a lot of friction and frustration. Instead if you focus on trying to understand who they are, and to help them develop, then the relationship will be much more harmonious. We talked about the mother and father fighting over whether the child should be a doctor or a scientist, whereas the child is not even born. So, like that we project our expectations too much some times. So, the Bhagavat Gita tell us that different people have different talents, different interests, and they have to be engaged accordingly. So, only when we have interest in something, then we can perceive the problem as a challenge. Otherwise, we will see the problem as a burden.
So, we all have to be burdens in life sometimes, but if life itself is a burden it will become unbearable. So, if you force people to do something which they are just not shaped to do, then they will be miserable and their inability to do it will make us miserable. So, there is talent plus temperament… that will lead to achievement. So, people… we as parents, our primary goal is to help them develop their temperament. Talent is there, and talent can be shaped, but we can’t create talent. So, we have to see children in their own terms, not in terms of our expectations and our dreams, and whatever talent they have we help them to develop. So, a coach’s job has three things – telling the student what is wrong and then give the knowledge, giving the process and giving the inspiration. If the coach simply tell, ‘this is wrong and this is the process.’, but doesn’t give inspiration, then too much negative statements may dishearten the player, and the player may stop playing.
So, similarly if our interaction with children is only… we keep telling them, don’t do this, don’t do this, then our desire may be to make them better, but actually we make them bitter. So, there is a primary platform of acceptance, of affection, of love, of encouragement, and within that there can be constructive feedback that is given, and then we discussed about how the whole purpose of the Bhagavat Gita was to elevate our children.
Now, here he lost his moral, and the Bhagavat Gita helped Arjuna to gain his moral. He set aside his gandiva bow and lifted up the gandiva. Similarly, in life there will be times when those whom we are connected with, those who 59.18, they will lose moral. So, that time we have to guide them in such a way that they feel affirmed and they feel encouraged, and how did Krishna do that? Especially when Arjuna said that the mind is very difficult to control, Krishna didn’t put Arjuna in His place, Krishn put Himself in His place. Those put others in your place, put yourself in their place. See things from their perspective, and then they will be able to… we will be able to give guidance that makes sense. So, champion bowler cannot chastise a new bowler for not having that level of control that the champion bowler has…. So, if people are to understand us, they need to feel that we have understood them. The doctor who prescribes without hearing the patient will not get the cooperation of the patient, even if the diagnosis is right. So, if people don’t feel that we have understood their problems then even if whatever we are giving is good for them, and they can do it, still they will not do it. So, that communication has to be two-way. Emphatic understanding has to be there, and then the last point that I discussed about that… whereas children may have certain talents or may not have certain talents, and we cant create talents, but spirituality… inclination for loving Krishna, the potential for loving Krishna is there in everyone. However not everyone may take it up, because for us, our spirituality was a discovery. We were living more or less material life, and then we discovered some new features in our phone or we discovered a new phone itself, our spirituality was a discovery for us, but for our children, especially who have been brought up in devotional environment, for them material life is a discovery. Spiritual life is something that they have already got.
So, when they start exploring that it can be very distressing phase. So, in adolescence, when that whole… the person seems to change… what has changed actually, the way they think , they way they feel, they are going through new phase where they are discovering their identity, and that time they may assert their independence by going against their parents. So, at this stage we need to know that we can’t control anyone’s free will. We need to… we can give knowledge, we can provide facilities, we can set example, and then it is up to them to make to make the choice, just as Krishna leaves it to Arjuna,
Yathe ca tathat kuru
And because we have given the devotional impressions in childhood, because every soul has the potential to love Krishna, sooner or later that impressions will attract them back, and that’s like how that the devotees son realized that the Michael Jacksons concert was just noise, and then started practicing bhakti once again. So, it is between them and Krishna, and we have done our part. We shouldn’t take their not practicing bhakti as our personal feeling. We have done our part and we keep our door open for them, not that we make it a ego issue and make them feel bad about not practicing bhakti. Keep the door open, and in due course they will march forwards, and they will also attain Krishna’s lotus feet.