Every man’s work…is a portrait of himself…” -Samuel Butler
A sadhu once sent an artistic letter to Swamishri requesting that he also draw some sort of picture in his reply. Swamishri wrote, “I don’t know how to draw, but these sadhus and these devotees ¬- they are all my ‘pictures’.”
Each individual life that Swamishri has transformed is an artfully constructed masterpiece, in and of itself. During the course of his life, Swamishri has painted millions of such pictures. While these living portraits reflect the purity of his life and life message, Swami has no wish to display his work in a showroom or art gallery to receive praise. His only wish is to enable those around him to experience the same spiritual happiness that he experiences day in and day out. It is in the pursuit of this mission that he selflessly contributes for the betterment of humanity.
As Satsangis we, too, can be works of Swami’s ‘art’. He puts in countless hours to shaping each and every one of us, and the spiritual development that we undergo is a direct result of his effort, time, prayers and selfless care. The question that we must ask ourselves is, “Have I chosen to truly be a reflection of Swami’s work? Do I represent Swami in the best manner possible? Do the things I think, say and do truly represent his teachings, wishes and life?” At times our lives may feel like a reflection of him, and at times they may not. The truth is, we are usually an ‘in-process’ reflection of his work. To what extent we fully represent him lies in our hands. It is a question of ‘want.’ Swami has toiled day and night to guide us and mold us, yet the type of painting we want to become plays a direct role in the quality of that final image.
Our perspective can sometimes be the biggest barriers to this process. We want to believe that we are already perfect and that any setbacks we experience are a result of external factors. We seldom ask ourselves, “Where can I improve?” Yes, we are a reflection of Swami’s work, but without constant introspection and wanting to improve, we will inevitably be too contented with the mediocrity of an ‘in-process’ picture to become the masterpiece that Swamishri has envisioned. A Chinese philosopher said it best:
“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.”
What is our desired result? Is it to truly become a reflection of Swami? Is to become someone really great? Remember, “Every man’s work is a portrait of himself.” The lives Swamishri has transformed speak volumes about the greatness of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, himself. Let us, too, choose to lead our lives in a manner that we become a masterful portrait of Swami’s work. Let the work we do, the words we speak, the thoughts we have become a reflection of the greatness of he who is guiding us to be - of our true identity.