Free Press Journal

Think before you judge a person


Just as it would be fallacious and short-sighted to judge a book merely by its cover, it would be equally judgemental and unjust to label a person based on a single act of omission

Aeons ago lived an old farmer in ancient China. He was once a brawny grazier and a propertied landlord. On account of certain misadventures, and fallacious decisions taken by him in his profession and personal life, the agriculturist fell into bad times.

Woeful times of the landlord
His entire bounty was usurped by covetous relatives and venal usurers. As events unfolded dramatically, they had a detrimental effect on his health. His coffers depleted and he became infirm in the winter of his life. Once a landlord, he was now a mere peasant, no longer commanding the respect he once did. Therefore, he would spend the majority of his time sitting on the porch, regurgitating the past. His son, now having to work in the fields would look up in disgust and imprecate him under his breath.

A man of little use
One fine day, the son got so frustrated by the turn of events that he constructed a wood coffin. Virtually dragging the coffin over to the porch he commanded his father to get into it. The nonchalant father climbed into the coffin and mentally prepared himself for the end. The son then dragged the coffin to the edge of a high cliff.

The prescient peasant
Just as he was about to drop the coffin, the son heard a light tapping on the lid from inside the coffin. Opening the coffin, he found his father wearing a beatific smile. Looking up to his son he ventured to add, “As I approach the end of my life, in all humility I wish you to do something at my bidding, which in your present mental state you may loath to do.” “What is it?” the exasperated son questioned. “Throw me over the cliff, as you have predetermined,” said the father, “but save this sturdy wood coffin. You and your children might require it during trying times.”

Learning the lessons
We must accept people and situations as they are. This is a percipient aphorism given to humanity by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in various Art of Living courses. Human beings are plumb judgemental by nature. By dwelling on this sutra, we can trigger efficacious emotions such as compassion and love in the mind. When the mind is encapsulated by such emotions, it makes us embrace people and situations as they are.

Another noteworthy and pithy observation by Gurudev is that it is the very nature of human mind to cling on to the coattails of negativity. An individual would be eulogised by his kith and kin, friends, acquaintances, peers and colleagues for his karmic deeds, but one negative act is all that it takes for those very people to drop him like a hot potato. Similarly, the son could not arise from alcoves of his hostile thought process and was determined to wreak vengeance on his hapless father.

Normally, antipathetic and Sisyphean tendencies arise in individuals singularly on account of two cardinal factors. One, the prana or energy levels are woefully low and second, humans do not live in the present moment and are unable to accept people and situations as they are. The son was not compassionate enough to appreciate the frailties of his father. Thus he hatched a plot to eliminate him.

Sagacity of the deadwood
Yet the father was perspicacious enough to impart wisdom to his son, urging him to think about the financial utility of the wood and how serviceable and handy it would be to the family during vexatious times. Certainly, the old farmer had committed his share of mistakes. Despite his infirmities, he was perspicuous enough to continue watching out for son and his immediate family.

Just as it would be fallacious and short-sighted to judge a book merely by its cover, it would be equally judgemental and unjust to label a person based on a single act of omission. After all, to err is human. In the larger picture, it is the sum total of pluses and minuses that should be viewed.

The dead horse theory – not a contrarian view
Generation after generation of Dakotan Indians have passed on their wisdom, “When you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.” However, modern management and several corporate organisations have advocated a different approach to extract work in such a case.

It would be prescient to perhaps adopt a stronger whip or change the riders to garner extra mileage. One could even examine the true potential of the animal and set different goals altogether. It would be worthwhile to examine the conditions and mark their performances. In the process, one can reset the bar. This is indeed an inclusive approach in life. Some corporate entities intelligently take to reclassification. This is a useful way to extract work from purportedly dead wood. Yet another tactic is to positioning in an advisory capacity, in roles where they can contribute in a suitable manner.

Thus it is easy to jettison, but a wise one uses the wisdom of supposedly deadwood. This is what the son ought to have done with his father. “A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another, the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden,” said
Gautama Buddha.