Excellence! Thy Name is God
Some count the garlands adorning the neck of the speaker. Some enjoy the decoration of the pandal. Some laugh and gossip. A few listen to the speaker with rapt attention. Many lose the purpose. A few accomplish it. That is the way things happen.
Most of us lose sight of the goal of human life. It’s like the farmer who goes to the field to till the land but on the way, leaving his plough if he chases after a rabbit that rushes towards a thorny bush, his real purpose is defeated.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s parable may be cited here.
"Once a man went to see a theatrical performance, carrying a mat under his arm. Hearing that it would be sometime before the performance began, he spread the mat on the floor and fell asleep. When he woke up, all was over. Then he returned home with the mat under his arm."
Without a clear knowledge of our destination, we sometimes move with a purpose diluted, tread on a track deviated and ultimately we get deluded. Without a way chart we sometimes miss the straight highway and proceed in the by-lanes, which have got dead ends.
We must know first where we want to go. Then only it will be meaningful to know the shortest route. Nothing is purposeless in this world, Be it the colossal Himalayan Ranges or the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, be it a dense forest or a denuded desert, be it the flaming Sun or the beaming Moon, everything serves some purpose or other. There is definitely a noble purpose behind all such creations. There is also a purpose behind our birth. Mere living cannot be our goal. Every body craves for a life with peace and happiness. This is how the humans are different from the other lower animals. The process of evolution, as it has been continuous till today, will also continue unabated. Dynamism is the law of nature. Dynamism is inherent even in atoms in which electrons move rapidly, react with others and give birth to new matters and new energies. Every one moves forward in the process of evolution. Human stage succeeds the animal stage. Human stage may be a prelude to some super human stage or divine stage to complete the cyclic order i.e. to reach that state from where it began its journey. Thus man stands in between the animal stage and divine stage. Therefore both animal instincts and divine virtues are present in human nature. That is why probably, a man who stands in the lower rung of the ladder of evolution (in the human form) exhibits more of animal instincts. On the other hand, a man who is more evolved or more developed (i.e. who is nearer to goal) exhibits more of divine virtues. Just as the number is always less in higher grades and higher classes, persons with divine virtues are less in the world and persons bearing animal instincts are more. If we look at physical nature also we find the prevalence of the same formulae. The ordinary flies that sit on rotten things are many but the honey-bees are few in number.
Our goal of living a life with peace and happiness can be accomplished only if the animal instincts in us are eradicated by conscious efforts and divine virtues latent in us and lying like dormant seeds are taken care of to grow further and further. We wish our children to be good and obedient, our friends helpful, soldiers loyal, debtors truthful, creditors sympathetic, colleague cooperative, and clients contented. Since we are attracted towards good qualities, it gives ample testimony to assert that the tender plant of goodness growing within us is attracted towards the sunrays of goodness without. If it is true that every action has got equal and opposite reaction, it must be equally true that if the virtues blossom in us, divinity will logically and necessarily descend upon us in exactly the same proportion, not more and never less. If we know for certain that courtesy begets courtesy and goodness begets goodness, it is also true that evil begets evil and contempt begets contempt.
Peace and happiness can be within our reach, if we wish others well, and treat others well, since by doing so, we shall be in turn wished well and treated well. It will be hypocritical on our part if we expect others to be good to us while we restrain our mind and organs of action from being good to others. Let us look at the rubber ball. The more we hit it against a wall the more it bounces back to us. Let us hear our echo near a den. A pleasant word comes back to us. An unpleasant word also comes back to us. Thus the wall reacts. The den reacts. Does not matter, whether we see or not, know or not. Whatever we transmit is transmitted back to us. Let us therefore sprinkle goodness on others and then only goodness will be sprinkled on us. That is a way to excellence.
Apart from excellent human behaviour, loving one’s own job and taking up the same with skill and sincerity is the way to peace and happiness. Yoga is skill in action. That is what the Bhagabat Gita exhorts. Whatever role man plays in this drama of life, he has to act well. It is said," if you cannot be a sun, just be a lamp. If you cannot be highway, just be a trail. If you cannot be a river, just be rivulet. But, be the best of whatever you are."
Good fruit is the logical conclusion of good action. One need not harbour in one’s mind the desire for fruit. If we take care of the tree of action, whether we desire or not, it will bear fruit. It automatically follows. Action and fruit are one and the same. Time only comes in between. In other words, fruit is nothing but a transformed action, or action itself at a subsequent state.
Therefore, work should be performed for work sake with a pure mind. Work accomplished with a motive of pleasing the superiors or getting promotion and some pecuniary benefits becomes polluted and loses purity and significance. The value of action performed skilfully and with a pure mind becomes manifold just as a piece of paper which, impressed with RBI water mark, becomes a currency note of high exchange value. This is how excellence can be accomplished.
Mere ‘aiming at excellence’ is not sufficient. ‘ To aim’ and ‘ to be’ are as diverse as the starting point and finishing point of a marathon race. While going alone on a secluded road, if the traveller only remembers his house, he has to spend a painful night there in the jungle. He has to quickly move so that he can reach his house before sunset. Similarly, with an arithmetic problem on hand, if a student shouts for answer, answer will not come. He has to apply the formula and work out the sum step by step. The moment application of formula ends, answer appears. Therefore we have to not only aim at excellence but with single-minded devotion move unswervingly on the right route to reach excellence. There by we can ourselves be excellent. Excellence is the other name of God who is Peace Absolute and Bliss Absolute. He is eternal and immutable. That kingdom is our starting point and our journey shall also end there. We can progress faster towards the goal by making conscious efforts in the right direction. That kingdom of excellence is in us. By possessing divine qualities, such as, renunciation, restraint, spiritual efforts, service, truth, love and forgiveness, we can approach the divinity within. He is our Self. He is Pure Consciousness. He can be realised by acquiring True Knowledge and divine virtues.