Question: Which is the world’s largest room?
The Guinness World Records lists many structures and buildings which may provide an answer:
- Largest Amphitheatre
The Flavian amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum of Rome, covers 20,000m2 (5 acres) and has a capacity of 87,000. It has a maximum length of 187 m (613ft) and width of 175m (574ft).
- Largest Administrative Building
The Pentagon has the largest ground area. Each exterior wall measures 281m (921ft). Its perimeter is 1,405m (4,610ft). It has five storeys with a total floor area of 604,000m2 (149.2 acres) and corridors totalling 28km (17.5 acres) in length.
- Largest Industrial Building
The container freight station of Asia Terminals Ltd. at Hong Kong’s Kavai Churg container port. The 15-level building has a total area of 865,937m2 (9,320,868ft2).
- Largest Opera House
The Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center in New York City. The auditorium is 137m (451ft) deep, and its stage is 70m (230ft) wide and 45m (148ft) deep. It can seat 4065 people.
- Largest Marquee
For the Welcome Expo in Brussels, Belgium, in 1958 an enormous marquee covering an area of 17,500m2 (188,350ft2) was erected.
- Largest Shower
Built at Jones Beach State Park, it measures 24.47m (80ft 3.5in) long, 42.43m (8ft) wide and 3.65m (12ft) tall. Up to 200 people can shower at the same time.
- Largest Shopping Centre
West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Covering an area of 492,387 m2 (5.3 million ft2), it also houses the world’s largest indoor amusement park, indoor water park and a man-made lake. Parking is provided in the world’s largest car park for over 20,000 vehicles.
- Largest Igloo
The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, has a total floor area of 4000m2 (43,055ft2) and can accommodate up to 150 guests.
The enormous proportions of all these structures make them the largest in their particular category. However, none of them are a candidate for the world’s largest room!
So, which is the world’s largest room? In fact, the world’s largest room is contained within a relatively small, confined space, because the world’s largest room is the room for improvement! It is contained within all of us, yet it is limitless. There is always scope for us to improve every aspect of our lives – be it personal, academic, social, professional or spiritual.
The Mercedes Principle
In 1986, a team of BAPS sadhus, led by Pujya Mahant Swami, visited the Mercedes plant in Stuttgart, Germany. They were shown around the factory and then taken to a showroom where a sample of each model produced by the company is kept on display. Stopping at the latest model, the manager guiding the sadhus commented, “The improvements we have made to the car to prevent accidents amount to only 10% of what is possible. There is still scope for 90% improvement to the car’s safety features.”
The sadhus listened with interest and then one of them asked, “It is good that such meticulous care is taken to improve the car’s safety features. But what is the major cause of accidents? Most accidents are due to a driver’s carelessness, impatience, inexperience and wrecklessness. So, isn’t there more of a need to improve the driver?”
The manager was surprised, yet pleased, by the question and agreed that it was indeed the case.
So, there is always room for self-improvement, until we attain perfection.
As any sports star, musician, or any other performing artist knows, it is important to practice sincerely to improve performance.
Perfection may seem idealistic and may not always be a practical possibility but it is still necessary to aim for it. These statistics from the USA reveal the startling impact of even the slightest defect. It has been calculated that even if there is 99.9% accuracy:
- 12 newborn babies will be given to the wrong parents daily.
- 114,500 mismatched shoes will be shipped every year.
- 18,322 pieces of mail will be mishandled every hour.
- 2 planes landing at O’Hare Airport will be unsafe.
- 325 entries in Webster’s Dictionary will be misspelled.
- 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be issued every year.
- 880,000 credit cards in circulation will have incorrect customer information on the magnetic strip.
- 5.5 million cases of soft drinks produced in one year will be flat.
- 291 pacemaker operations will be performed incorrectly.
A mere 0.1% inaccuracy produces such aberrations or errors. So, the pursuit of perfection does, in fact, have many practical benefits.
In business, perfection is desired for maximum profits. In their management best-seller Six Sigma, Mikel Harry and Richard Schroeder describe how the increasing levels of quality achieved by a company increases its profitability, despite the extra costs incurred. They provide a scale in which the quality level is assessed by the number of defects per million opportunities.
Six Sigma is a business process which enables companies to significantly improve their profits by designing, implementing and monitoring everyday business activities in ways that minimize waste and maximize customer satisfaction. It provides a framework by which companies can reduce mistakes in every aspect of their work.
Each advancing sigma level provides a 10% increase in net income.
Sigma level Defects/Million Opportunities
When a company achieves the six sigma level, its quality of goods or service and its profitability are maximized.
Perfection is no Trifle
Once, Michaelangelo was applying the finishing touches to a statue when a friend came to see him. The friend looked at the statue and after a short while, left. When he returned after a few days and saw the statue, he asked Michaelangelo, “You’ve not been working on the statue, have you?” To this, Michaelangelo replied, “I’ve retouched here, polished that, softened this feature, brought out that muscle, given expression to the lips and more energy to the arms.” After this explanation, the friend commented, “Yes, but they’re insignificant trifles.” Quietly, Michaelangelo replied, “That may be so. But trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle.”
So whatever activity one is engaged in, there is always scope for improvement. It just remains for one to realize this and seek out the areas in which improvement is required.
In the Shikshapatri, shlok 116, Bhagwan Swaminarayan states the goal of life, “Believe oneself as brahmarup, separate from the three bodies – gross, subtle and causal. Then in that brahmarup state always offer devotion to Parabrahma.” This in essence, is spiritual perfection – to rise above all material attachments and offer perfect devotion to God.
In 1957, a Buddhist monastery in Bangkok, Thailand, had to be relocated due to government orders. Another suitable site was allocated and a new monastery built. Then came the task of moving the 10.5 feet, 2 tonne clay murti of Lord Buddha to the new location. Appropriate equipment and transport was arranged. Straps were wrapped around the murti to lift it. Just at that time, it began to rain heavily. Since the murti was of clay, the head monk decided to postpone the operation. The murti was quickly covered with plastic to prevent damage from the rain. Late at night, the rain stopped. Concerned about the state of the murti, the head monk went to inspect it. He lifted a part of the covering plastic and shone a torch inside. To his surprise the light was reflected back, unusual for a clay object. The monk took a closer look and saw that a small chunk of clay had broken off, revealing a gold surface beneath. He noticed several such patches. He summoned the other monks and they removed the clay covering to reveal a golden murti of Lord Buddha. Everyone was delighted by this unexpected, surprise discovery.
The spiritual message of this story is that we, too, are like this murti of Lord Buddha. Our soul is as pure as gold, but layers of material attachments which have accrued over countless births prevent us from realizing the true nature of the soul.
In Vachanamrut Gadhada II-12, Shriji Maharaj emphasizes this point, “The jiva, which resides in the body, feels, ‘Lust, anger and other vicious natures are attached to my jiva.’ In this manner, depending on which of the vicious natures, i.e., lust, anger, avarice, etc., is predominant in a person, he believes his jiva to be full of that nature due to his association with it. But, in fact, not a single one of these vicious natures lies within the jiva; the jiva has merely believed itself to possess them out of its own foolishness.”
That is why in Vachanamrut Gadhada II-45, Shriji Maharaj reveals his resolve to help us all become free of the imperfections which hinder our spiritual progress, “I do not wish to leave any form of improper swabhãvs within your hearts. Nor do I wish to allow any trace of any of mãyã’s three gunas, ten indriyas, ten prãns, four antahkarans, five bhuts, panchvishays, and the deities of the 14 realms to remain. Instead, I wish to make all of you such that you offer bhakti to God realizing your true form to be the ãtmã, which is characterized by eternal existence and is free from all of these mãyik flaws.”
So, Bhagwan Swaminarayan teaches that spiritual perfection is attainable, but lack of effort on our part prevents us from achieving it. In Vachanamrut Gadhada I-20, he says, “For a person who has attained satsang, realization of his jivãtmã does, indeed, lie in his own hands. In fact, when has he attempted to see his own self and failed to see it? Having become dependent to and made helpless by mãyã, that jiva draws within and enters the dream and deep sleep states, but never does it draw within of its own accord to see its own self. On the other hand, one who contemplates on the greatness of God and draws within oneself sees one’s own self as extremely pure and luminous. In the midst of that luminance, one beholds the form of the manifest Purushottam Bhagwãn and experiences bliss in the manner of Nãrad and the Sanakãdik. Therefore, all deficiencies which do remain in a devotee are due to his own lethargy.”
How is this lethargy overcome so that one’s true spiritual potential is revealed? By the association of a God-realized sadhu. Just as doctors are trained by doctors, engineers are trained by engineers, accountants are trained by accountants, similarly, spiritual perfection is learnt from one who is himself spiritually perfect.
In childhood, Gunatitanand Swami was called Mulji Bhakta. One day he passed by a well with some friends. The surface of the well was covered with moss. But when Mulji Bhakta threw a stone into the well, the moss cleared, revealing the clear water underneath. Others, too, threw stones into the well dispersing all the moss. Soon, the boys could clearly see their reflection. But shortly afterwards, the moss regrouped, covering the water surface again and blocking their view. Seeing this Mulji Bhakta told his friends, “Maya in the form of desires and worldly attachments (represented by the moss) prevents one from seeing one’s true form, the atma (represented by the clear water). Only when this barrier is removed can the atma be seen.”
This is possible only by remaining in the company of and living by the commands of God or his holy Sadhu, who are spiritually perfect.
Our life is full of imperfections. So, we must go deep to remove the clay covering and reveal the gold beneath. By this, true spiritual perfection is attained.