The boy’s father was a harsh man. Constantly criticizing and belittling others, he was feared by everyone who knew him—but not by his son, who had a wisdom beyond his years.
One day when the boy was twelve years old, he came into the room where his father was sitting and picked up a beautiful shell bowl from a table. Lifting the shell over his head, he threw it to the ground and shattered it into pieces.
“What have you done?” his father screamed. Calmly the boy looked at him, and replied, “Can you put it back together and make it whole again?”
“Of course not,” said the man as he approached the boy angrily, about to mete out punishment.
“Then why do you do this to other people’s minds?” the son asked. The father’s rage changed to stunned silence, as he realized, perhaps for the first time, the impact of his actions on others.
This boy grew up to become Swami Satchidananda, a disciple of the great Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, and a beloved guru to many thousands of people around the world. He founded the worldwide Integral Yoga Institutes, and in 1979 established Yogaville in Buckingham, Virginia, where he built the first LOTUS (Light Of Truth Universal Shrine).
Recently Jyotish and I took part in a well-received Ananda program in the south Indian city of Coimbatore. The following day Satchidananda’s cousin and disciple, K. Ramasamy, drove us to a nearby town where he has established a second LOTUS. This beautiful temple is “dedicated to the Light of all faiths and to world peace,” and is exactly two-thirds the size of the original LOTUS in Virginia.
As we toured the beautiful grounds and buildings with shrines dedicated to all religions, we were struck by the fact that the same consciousness is reflected in LOTUS and in the new temple being built at Ananda Village. People of universal sympathies are bringing the same awareness of global unity.
Mr. Ramasamy told us another story from the life of his guru-cousin. In the early years of Satchidananda’s spiritual work in the West, many unkempt hippies began to follow him. Eventually he was able to uplift their consciousness, and many of them went on to make significant contributions in the arts and sciences, and in medicine.
At a certain point, a very wealthy woman began attending his satsangs. She told him, “I’d like to join your work and can donate a great deal of money, but [referring to the gaggle of hippies hanging around] I can’t stand all these pigs.”
Satchidananda smiled kindly and replied, “Perhaps this is not your place, because if they are pigs, then I am the mother pig caring for all of them.” Unable to overcome her prejudices, the woman ended up leaving.
I’ll close with a quote from this great teacher: “The real purpose of any religion is to educate us about our spiritual unity. It is time for us to recognize that there is one truth and many approaches. The need of the hour is to know, respect, love one another, and to live as one global family.”
The broken shell could not be put back together, but the human soul needs but a touch of light, love, and understanding to, once again, be made whole in the realization of its oneness with God.