There is true worth and feigned worth. The latter is fit for parades.
Through several sorts of ranking, men are divided. Two takes are: "The most worthy is a child, a servant". Some hold they believe it - but their actions tend to show what they really believe it, which is what they adjust to after all.
Ramakrishna: "The Paramahansa (patent spiritual) is like a five year old child." [Tas 207]. Then you are free to be jolly about mermaids and much else, as they do in SRF (Self-Realization Fellowship), and that looks official enough. [Au 355]
The Strongest One
Once a husband could not make out what kind of idol he should worship. He bought one idol, and then got afraid that the other idols would get angry. So he bought another. Soon the man had two big trunks of idols to carry with him, and every day somebody would say, "You had better have and worship this idol god and that idol god," so the trunks grew heavy too.
He reckoned it was too much to have three trunks to carry, so he sat down by the side of a pond and began to weep; "Oh, which idol to worship? As soon as I worship one god I think the others are getting angry."
A commoner passed by, and seeing the crying man he said: "What is the matter?"
"I don't know which idol to please," said the man and opened his trunks.
The common man said, "Close your eyes and drop the idols on a rock. Use the one that does not break."
The man did as he was told, and all his idols broke except one which was made of solid brass. Then the other man said, "Now that you have found your god, go home. But if you find a more powerful god than this one, worship that one. Always worship the strongest god."
So the man went home where he put the brass idol on a little altar and worshipped it with offering it fruits. Every day he discovered the fruit was gone, so he thought, "The man certainly told me of the right idol god - ah, he eats too."
One day he thought he would watch how his idol god ate. He opened his eyes a little, and while he was praying he saw a weasel come and eat the fruit. The he said, "Look at that idol. It cannot eat the fruit, but the weasel can, so it is a more powerful god."
No sooner had he thought this than he caught the weasel by the tail and tied it on the altar. His wife said, "You've gone crazy."
"No, I am just following orders - to worship more and more powerful gods," said the man. He threw the stone away and began to worship the weasel.
One day when he was meditating, he suddenly heard a great noise, and when he opened his eyes he saw their pussycat was shooing the weasel. He thought, "Interesting. The cat is more powerful than the weasel. I must worship the cat."
At once he got hold of the cat and put it on the altar. From then on the cat did not have to catch mice any more, and got fat getting milk every day without hard work. Day after day the man's meditation grew deeper and the cat got fatter, until something happened:
When the man woke up in the morning he used to drink a bowl of milk after meditating. One day the cat drank it up when the man sat in deep meditation in front of the altar. At that moment the wife came in, saw what the cat did, and fetched a broom. Her husband got disturbed by the awful noise his wife and cat made, so he opened his eyes looked at his wife and thought, "Interesting. My wife with a broom is more powerful than the cat, so the wife with a broom is a better god."
Then he demanded that his wife should sit on the altar with her broom when he was meditating, and every day from now on he meditated on her. The wife used to cook for her husband too in between these rituals, and after he finished worshipping her he would eat his meal. Then one day he found a piece of charcoal in the rice. "Why did you put charcoal in the rice? Why did you do that?" the man shouted at his wife and harassed her too.
His wife said, "It was not on purpose. Please, forgive me."
At that moment the man saw who was the next to sit down and be worshipped and get all that good milk. "Wife, through rudeness and menacing I seem to be the most powerful one in this house."
"We'll see about that," said the wife, looking at the broom.
In admiring idols and murtis, is there a need to ignore their makers and what they were up to, and what skills and materials went into the items?
All in all it could help one's development into finer, subtler realms of thinking to learn what an idol represents of abstract qualities and the like. [Cf. Wikipedia, s.v. "Murti"]
If the man had been told to focus on [thoughtless?] kindness and mercy instead of bully-strength, the result might have been different, and a docile or friendly cow could have got better "scores".
Some monks are tied to and steered by hierarchy rules ever so often.
Is not your life soaring higher than partiality against decency will have it? If so, it must be reckoned as one typical devotee mistake.
Better live as a bold dandy that takes things to heart than a gang-bitten, rotten fellow.
"When one considers this, it is clear how the old masters looked down on those who sought advancement". Awakened means nothing much outwardly unless and until manifested outwardly, which is not necessary. [Dog 52]
Au: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1998.
Dog: Masunaga, Reiho, tr. A Primer of Soto Zen. A Translation of Dogen's Shobogenzo Zuimonki. Honolulu: University Press, 1975.
Tas: Ramakrishna. Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna. 5th ed. Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1974.
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