The “X” Factor – Satsangh Takeaways

Sunday 25th July is Guru Purnima.

At the request of our Satsanghis, I am offering this post at the feet of our dear Guruji, our spiritual master who has provided all of us a common destiny, has empowered us by bringing out the divinity in each of us and has dedicated his life to providing knowledge to thousands of children through his radical workshops..

O Master; you are the creator, the sustainer, the divine and the destroyer. You are the omnipresent and the glorious transcendental divinity, I salute you.

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णु गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः
गुरु साक्षात् परब्रह्म तस्मै श्री गुरुवे नमः

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This Saturday’s Satsangh was on verses 14 and 15 of Chapter 18. In these verses it is explained that all actions that are undertaken by us require a combination of five factors. Here’s a short summary of the key takeaways from my lecture today.

Looking from our Guruji’s workshop angle, the Sloka 14 provides the powerful Secret of Success for any endeavor in life through the 5 factors.

Purpose The first component one needs to succeed in anything is Purpose.

Once a woodcutter took his grandson into the forest for his first experience in selecting and cutting trees that would be later sold to boat builders. As they walked along, the woodcutter explained that the purpose of each tree is contained in its natural shape: some are straight for planks, some have the proper curves for the ribs of a boat, and some are tall for masts. The woodcutter told his grandson that by paying attention to the details of each tree, someday he too might become an expert woodcutter.

A little way into the forest, the grandson saw an old oak tree that had never been cut. The boy asked his grandfather if he could cut it down because it was useless for boat building – there were no straight limbs, the trunk was, short and gnarled, and the curves were going the wrong way. “We could cut it down for firewood,” the grandson said. “At least then it will be of some use to us.” The woodcutter replied that for now they should go about their work cutting the proper trees for the boat builders; maybe later they could return to the old oak tree.

After a few hours of cutting the huge trees, the grandson grew tired and asked if they could stop for rest in some cool shade. The woodcutter took his grandson over to the old oak tree, where they rested against its trunk in the cool shade beneath its twisted limbs. After they had rested a while, the woodcutter explained to his grandson that some things are readily apparent but some things might initially appear to have no purpose at all, like the gnarled old oak tree. The woodcutter stated, “You must learn to pay careful attention every day so you can recognize and discover the purpose God has for everything in creation. For it is this old oak tree, which you so quickly deemed useless except for firewood, that now allows us to rest against its trunk amidst the coolness of its shade.

This is the beautiful aspect of creation – that God has created everything with its own purpose.

The central factor in the lives of the most successful people is that they all clearly identify their purpose and direction. It is clarity of purpose that provides both a foundation and launching pad for a person’s success.

Even for a simple day to day task, such as driving somewhere, we need to have an idea where we plan to go and drive in that direction. Only if we know where we are going, we would be reaching it! Not only that, if we don’t even know where we are going, then we would never know whether we have reached!

It is not only successful individuals who have a clear purpose but also something any successful organization does and needs to do. Usually there is a “Mission Statement” that says what it is that the Organization wants to achieve and be known for and even their tag line encapsulates it. For eg, Apple Computer had a simple tag line – “Think Different”. Just two words, but all the time that they have been around, this company has always tried to produce a completely revolutionary product that breaks the previous definitions!

Another successful company with a clear purpose is Infosys – their tag line is “powered by intellect, driven by values”. The words “driven by values” clearly states that company gives a lot of importance to values and this is the reason that they have been able to build and retain the image of a successful as well as an Ethical company! So, the very foundation of success is “Purpose”.

Performer Now we move to the second component and that is the “performer”.

Going back to the examples of Apple and Infosys, the moment we think of these successful companies, we also think of the people who symbolize them and brought this success to them – Steve Jobs of Apple and Narayanamurthy of Infosys. They are the people who were instrumental in the success of these companies.

If we take a movie or a dance performance, there is a central character or “Hero” who either makes or breaks the performance. There could be a brilliant story but sometimes the performer cannot act at all and hence the audience is not convinced and the movie becomes a flop.

Even if a person has the greatest recipe, unless the person cooks it properly, the dish will end up as a mess! Whether it is a dish or a movie or a business or any action at all, the second component of success therefore is a Performer, who has to do the job properly and correctly and to the best of his/her ability.

The Right tools After the Purpose and Performer, what is the third component? The Various types of tools!

If we think of our kitchen example, each action that needs to be performed will have a range of tools that are required. It might be a humble matchstick or the modern microwave, yet the instruments are all necessary to help achieve the end result! In the olden times, when there was no microwave or even a gas stove – the food used to be prepared using a wood stove. A hollow tube was used to blow air and the poor housewife literally had tears in her eyes as she cooked for the family!

The same hollow tube when made out of bamboo and in the hands of Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia can make the most mellifluous music and can be an instrument which is greatly worshipped! So the tools for success can be varied depending on the purpose and the performer. The instruments can also be tangible or intangible and they symbolize all the means or methods by which success is ultimately achieved.

Activities A-Z / Processes We move on to the fourth factor – This refers to the various acts that are actually performed. In our kitchen example – this would be the various actions involved in preparing the dish – right from cutting vegetables, grinding, mixing, boiling, seasoning etc etc till the finished product is reached.

In our movie example, it will involve all the various acts that are given credit for at the end of the movie when the titles are running. The most important credit should be given to the make-up person of the lead artistes because without them, no one will be able to even recognize the so called “super stars”! The camera work, the song composition, the dance choreography, the script writing represent the multitude of activities.

In the company example not only various activities but various product lines can be covered. Apple has brought forth the Mac, Ipod, Iphone, Ipad and so on and so forth each a different product that has made it more and more successful. Apple has changed the way cell phones were being used and there is even an appstore that makes various applications for the devices. The latest Iphone application is called “Paul the Octopus” – If you are faced with tough decisions, all you need to do is use the application and ask it to choose.

How was Paul the Octopus able to predict the success and failure of all those football teams and how did he become even more famous than the football players?

The X Factor This nicely brings us to the master factor – that special secret ingredient for success which is described here as “Daivam”. In our day to day life, we know that although the four factors mentioned before are there, it may not still result in success and hence the fifth factor is in play.

The irony of the fifth factor or “Deivam” or “Destiny” is that while the other factors that are important are recognized by their presence, the fifth factor is often attributed only in its absence!

For many years as long as banks were making huge profits, there were bankers and dealers who were claiming that they were responsible for its success! In the last two years, when banks lost a lot of money, almost everyone says it is because of the “Markets” or the “Financial Crisis”. The markets are never given any credit for success and they were mentioned as the cause only when there was enormous failure – because, success has many fathers but failure is an orphan!

Many of you might be coca cola drinkers and you might know that there is one secret ingredient in coca cola which is known only as “Merchandize 7X”. It is known only to very few people and is a closely guarded secret and many people consider that it is the Secret ingredient behind the success of Coca Cola.

So what is Daivam? IS it a secret ingredient that is known by the successful people and not by the unsuccessful? Is it fate or destiny? It is the “X” factor!

Once, during a momentous battle, a Japanese general decided to attack even though his army was greatly outnumbered. He was confident they would win, but his men were filled with doubt. On the way to the battle, they stopped at a religious shrine. After praying with the men, the general took out a coin and said, “I shall now toss this coin. If it is heads, we shall win. If tails, we shall lose. Destiny will now reveal itself.” He threw the coin into the air and all watched intently as it landed. It was heads. The soldiers were so overjoyed and filled with confidence that they vigorously attacked the enemy and were victorious. After the battle, a lieutenant remarked to the general, “No one can change destiny.” “Quite right,” the general replied as he showed the lieutenant the coin, which had heads on both sides.

When we used to play a game of carom at home, only four of us could play at a time. If there are small kids at home, they used to join with one of the sides – whichever they chose. After some time, if one side is winning, these children will quietly change sides to the winning side! Destiny can also be considered to be the fickle factor that moves towards the side that has the successful mix of the four factors. When the four factors are working together in the right combination, destiny joins along and then success cannot be far behind!

Another explanation that is given to daivam is that it is the time factor! This is a more optimistic view of the concept of “Daivam”. Once the four factors are there together and working properly, this takes the view that success will always result – but in some cases, it might take longer than in others. Further, we may or may not understand everything that happens, but we should trust that whatever happens is in our best interest. In many cases, failure is just considered a stepping stone and the Performer simply has to try harder with the combination of factors and ultimately when destiny favors, at the right time, he gets success.

The mystery X factor or “Destiny” can also be seen in this real life incident. On March 23, 1994, a man called Ronald Opus was found dead with a shot gun shot to his head. Mr. Opus had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide. He left a suicide note saying he was dejected with life. As he fell past the ninth floor his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly. Actually, just below the eighth floor level a safety net has been put since some construction was going on and if Ronald had actually fallen, he would not have been able to kill himself, as planned. The medical examiner decided to call this a murder on this basis. The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously and he was threatening her with a shotgun. The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the window striking Mr. Opus. Even if a person’s bullet kills some one else, they can still be convicted for manslaughter and this seemed to be the case here.

However, when charged, both the old man and his wife were adamant and said that they thought the shotgun was unloaded. Infact, the old man said it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He never had any intention to murder her and hence the killing of Mr. Opus was an accident since somehow the gun had been accidentally loaded.

Further investigation brought a witness who saw the old couple’s son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident. It was found out that the old lady had cut off her son’s financial support and the son, knowing that the father used to threaten the wife with a shotgun, had loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother. Since the son had deliberately loaded the gun, even though he did not actually pull the trigger, it was decided that he should be charged with the murder of Ronald Opus.

Now comes the exquisite twist. Further investigation revealed that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly dejected over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother’s murder. This led him to jump off the ten story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window. The son had actually murdered himself and hence the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide. Can this be explained by anything other than destiny?

Recently, a series of highly successful lectures were held in India by the ISKCON group entitled “6 ½ Traits of Effective Leadership”. It concluded with an explanation of the mysterious ½. “It said that although we all try to be the perfect 7, there is a part of leadership which is beyond our control,” “A part beyond the human being. Some call it luck, some call it faith, others karma. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna Himself, calls it “daivam,” or God’s grace.”

In conclusion, “Destiny or Daivam” is a Mystery that is beyond our understanding. It is found to join in whenever all the other components of success are in place and sometimes comes later than expected. If we need the support of this “X” Factor then what we need to do is to submit our individual will to the divine will!!

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