|Review and revise. Analyse and then act. These are essential ingredients for success. By indentifying faults and correcting them, progress is made. But often, ego and other baser instincts blur our vision. Our self-centred actions are judged with a self-promoting bias.
So, if we want to achieve our aims, we must stand back and focus on our faults.
"What is my fault? Sanjay, tell me! What's my mistake?"
On the eighteenth and final day of the Mahabharat War, a mortally wounded Duryodhan breaks the eerie silence of the battlefield with these words of self-pity.
Shocked by the critical wounds inflicted on his master, Sanjay is speechless.
"Tell me Sanjay," Duryodhan continues, "What have I done wrong? I've carried out all my duties, studied the scriptures, performed sacrifices, made donations.... And yes, I may be dying, but nobody has had such a dignified death as this!"
Even on his death bed, Duryodhan is unable to know the mistakes which have ruined his life. In these final moments, he is searching for ways to pin the blame for the Great War on the Pandavas. But, it is all in vain, for history tells a different story - it was Duryodhan who instigated the attempts to kill the Pandavas; it was Duryodhan who craved and plotted to see the Pandavas penniless; and it was Duryodhan who refused to part with even a needle-tip size area of the land which rightfully belonged to the Pandavas. And now he asks, "What have I done wrong?"
All he can see at this time are the roses of noble deeds he performed, but he does not see the underlying thorns of misdeeds - thorns which had punctured his happiness throughout his life. It was these thorns which made him unable to tolerate any good that happened to the Pandavas and made his life miserable. But he never thought to remove those painful thorns and enjoy the roses.
Duryodhan's question is not only confined to him alone. It is an eternal question. One that is equally applicable today and tomorrow, simply because every person, to a great or lesser extent, believes that he is free of blame for anything which goes wrong.
Students blame teachers for their poor results; children blame parents and parents blame children for family discord; while workers blame the management and the management blames the worker. Everyone is blaming each other, but nobody is prepared to shoulder the blame. Nobody is prepared to search within for their faults. And nobody is bold enough to admit their mistakes and do something about them. This is the reason for the misery which plagues our lives.
In any industrial production process, a quality controller is on hand to ensure that the product being manufactured is upto standard. It is his responsibility to ensure that faulty goods are rejected and only the perfect products are packed for sale. Without this step, a company's reputation is likely to suffer. The same is true in life. By failing to assess our faults within, and by not taking appropriate measures to correct them, we are unable to live at peace with the world.
Hence, it is essential that we regularly pause and ask ourselves, "What are my faults? And what can I do to correct them." Only then can progress be made. This habit of introspection is important in every aspect of life. Consider a team - in football, cricket, baseball or any other sport - which performs below standard. Only by analysing and accepting their mistakes can individual players and the team as a whole improve. To help a player improve, the first necessity is for him to analyse his own performance and his own strengths and weaknesses. The second requirement is a good manager who gives constructive criticism. Shriji Maharaj has pinpointed these principles as the route to spiritual progress.
In Vach. Gad. I-6, Shriji Maharaj says, "One who has a good discriminating sense will increasingly realise his own drawbacks...and if God or His holy sadhu speak harshly to him, he believes it to be for his own good."
Again in Vach. Gad. I-16, Shriji Maharaj emphasizes this technique, "A devotee of God who is able to discriminate between the real and imaginary, identifies his own faults and overcomes them...and whatever advice God and His holy sadhu give is accepted as true."
By applying this technique, faults are eradicated and progress is achieved.
The Selling Game
If real progress is desired, then introspection, admission of faults and steps for their correction are essential.
In the intensely competitive consumer market, companies which adopt a self-critical review policy succeed and progress rapidly. Those who believe, "no consumer is wrong," or "if anything is wrong, it is wrong with me," or "you can always improve" will be more capable of meeting their customers' demands and so increase their profits.
Likewise, on the spiritual front, regular and frequent introspection is vital. Shriji Maharaj says in Vach. Gad. I-38, "A devotee should analyse his mind to assess how much attachment he has for God and how much attachment he has for material pleasures. By doing this every year, he can slowly eradicate any outstanding desires for material pleasures."
In Vach. Sarangpur-18, a question is asked to Shriji Maharaj, "If a person is troubled by anger and other vicious instincts, can they be eradicated?" In reply, Shriji Maharaj says, "A businessman keeps a regular account of all transactions. Similarly, if a person keeps regular track of his baser instincts and evaluates the changes that have occurred since entering Satsang, then all his vicious instincts will be eliminated."
Until one reflects within, the intensity with which baser instincts have taken a controlling grip in one's life will not be realised. If one does not stop to reflect, one's actions will lead one away from God.
Jiva Khachar, the uncle of Dada Khachar, was intensely jealous of his nephew. This clouded his perception of Shriji Maharaj and led to his fall from Satsang.
Faiba of Macchiav had tremendous love for Shriji Maharaj, but her stubbornness became a barrier to spiritual progress.
Allaiya Khachar's ego hindered him, and prevented him from fulfilling his spiritual potential.
In all these examples, failure to introspect and failure to identify one's faults were the root cause of the problem.
Learning from Swamishri
While Swamishri was in America, recovering after his bypass operation, the sadhus read from the scriptures at meal times. On Swamishri's penultimate day in America, the final chapter of the Bhaktachintamani was being read. Swamishri asked Prabuddhamuni Swami if there were any sweet items which could be distributed as prasad to those present in celebration of the conclusion of the Bhaktachintamani recital. But there was nothing suitable. Prabuddhmuni Swami said, "I was going to make some shiro, but I became so pre-occupied with the routine work that I forgot." Swamishri commented, "It's my fault, I should have reminded you earlier."
Such a trivial matter, yet Swamishri was quick to take the responsibility. Successful people rapidly assess the situation, admit their mistakes and plan for improvement. Taking responsibility of oneself means to accept and correct one's mistakes.
The key to the doorway of success lies within. But one has to search there to find it. A Chinese philosopher has said,
"If you treat people with love and are subjected to enmity, search within;
If you selflessly help people and are greeted with non-cooperation, search within;
If you treat people with respect and are subjected to hostility, search within;
In fact, in any activity which does not bring the desired results, search within."
So the answer to the age-old question, "What is my fault?" has only one answer - "That I cannot see my own faults is my biggest fault."
And the only way to correct this is through constant introspection and humble prayer to God.