Sunday, 8 July 2012

Master Chef of Life

||Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

pic of stage childrens festival

Aum Namo Narayanaya

I still am dazed from the warped speed at which the days pass into weeks and months. We are already into the 7th month of the year, and pretty soon we will be gearing up for Diwali. This entire time pages through our lives so rapidly - and at times, presents before us an opaque mirage. It is always the case where the build up to an event draws so much of attention, zeal and enthusiasm - only to die an instant death afterward. However today quite to the contrary, for a few hours time stood still as I watched in awe, the grandeur with which the children of the Ramakrishna Centre displayed their love, devotion and talent at the 58th Annual Children’s Festival. The event was set to succeed and inspire, as it was presided over by huge enormous or should I say gigantic pictures of Holy Trio that formed the backdrop on the stage. It felt so comforting to be seated at the feet of Master, Mother and Swamiji as the children’s performances moved me to tears, especially the Redhill group's sketch on Prahalad and Lord Narashima. It is without a doubt that these images have been etched in my mind without the slightest chance of fading and will continue to inspire these youth for the duration of their lives.

Still basking in the energy and glory of Guru Poorinima - my mind is still afloat with the lucid frames of events which started early at the Ramakrishna Centre Headquarters in the holy company of our Revered Swami Vimokshanandaji Maharaj. All assembled behind Maharaj, as He conducted the most divine and beautiful pooja to Holy Trio, President Maharaj, and all Gurus and Sages. It was the most surreal experience, as for some moments we were transported to Dakshineswar, observing the offerings to Master as He sat cross-legged under the panchavati, His gentle smile acknowledging and accepting the love offerings whilst reassuring us that trouble shall fail to challenge His children.

After pranaams to Swamiji, I visited Swami Saradaprabhananda and was joined for breakfast by two regular devotee colleagues of the ashram- Amar and Reeves. During our breakfast, they discussed an interesting TV reality show that is currently keeping South Africa gripped in attention. I guess the topic easily found value, after trying to choose something to eat from the royal feast that was laid out on the table. The mothers at the ashram spared no inspiration in dishing out a delectable variety of snacks and eats. MasterChef is a reality TV show where contestants (amateurs at cooking) need to conjure up a dish with the ingredients provided to satisfy the taste buds of the gourmand judges.

Whilst partaking of the ambrosial feast, the talks didn’t germinate any input from me- apart from the fact I hardly watch the programme; my taste receptors were engaged in the delight of the Moong Dhal Vedai’s (my first taste). But upon review during the week, I see its great relevance and contribution to our peace and spiritual evolution.

We find so many people brooding and pining over events that passed or latch in anguish and fear of events to come. It has come to the fore by many medical research studies how these mental anxieties manifest as clinical diseases in the body. We are born; and through the stages of our lives - we learn, fall in love, cry, laugh and experience an array of emotions which usually alight from our association with people. Although we read many religious works which describe how in ancient times great sages achieved enlightenment by renouncing the world and living in caves; today we see ourselves in a conundrum, where we live in a socially active world dependant on industries and society for our survival.

So like in MasterChef - we are given the ingredients of social life, spiritual life, economic life and whole variety of other variables that this world offers. We are now to prepare a life that will be rewarding and favourably judged by our Lord. What we have before us is the here and now, not the past or the future; and what we experience is left entirely up to our creativity.

It is intriguing how each chef, who has the same ingredients produces a distinct variation which elicits unique responses from the judges. Essentially, we can attribute the difference to the methodology used by the chefs. Likewise! in life, everyone is subject to the influences of the world. It is how we approach life that clearly demarks success from failure?

Once in a discussion with Sri Ramakrishna, a man asked Master: "Sir, is man born again?"

MASTER: "It is said in the Gita that a man is reborn with those tendencies that are in his
mind at the time of his death. King Bharata thought of his deer at the time of death and was
reborn as a deer."

VAISHNAVA: "I could believe in rebirth only if an eye-witness told me about it."

MASTER: "I don't know about that, my dear Sir. I cannot cure my own illness, and you ask
me to tell you what happens after death! What you are talking about only shows your petty mind. Try to cultivate love of God. You are born as a human being only to attain divine love. You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes; what need is there of knowing how many thousands of branches and millions of leaves there are in the orchard? To bother about what happens after death! How silly?"

How wonderfully explained by Master! Living in the present, we torture our minds and thoughts with complex issues that are beyond our comprehension. When we focus our energies on love for God and undertake all our activities as worship to Him alone, then the product of that offering becomes perfect, and gives us much satisfaction and rave reviews from the ultimate judge, being the Lord Himself.

Love for cooking is what will expose the Master Chef in one. In the same way, love for God alone will make one the master of His world. It is the useful technique which Master gives us, knowing well that as human beings that we cannot avert attachment whilst living on earth. Attach yourself to God, love Him, pine for Him, go mad for Him - then everything you do in this world will be a success and absolute joy. It is like how gold shall not lose its value even if placed in a dump; you will shine with brilliance amidst this maya once you attach yourself with divinity.

 May we all become Master Chefs of life is my sincere prayer.

 With love and prayers always


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