Sabras: Be A Ladder
During the weekend of New Year’s Eve, a group of people with diverse backgrounds, ages ranging from 8 months to 87 years, shared a magical weekend together. Before piling into four cars, they sat together in prayer, encircling a rose pink package filled with tiny sachets of salt, or ‘Sabras’. The meaning of this package emerged like a budding flower over the course of the retreat.
One of the members of the retreat held with him a few thoughts by Vinobha Bhave that provided an invisible direction over the next few days. “These words would have come to Vinobha at the appropriate time for his journey.”, he said, “Just like a flashlight, these thoughts have come to us. It is not important whose thoughts they are, but for now it is our duty to use them to find our way ahead as Ladders, not Leaders.” Here are some of those words.
It has always been said that extraordinary thoughts in the heart of any one person is the plan of the divine. Tradition states that just thoughts are not enough, the capacity to lead is also important. Today we challenge this tradition. We aspire to create a network of friends. Our faith in the divine tells us that we will be successful in seeking a process that will end this era of leadership.
There are some words that give inspiration to all of humanity, enabling them to achieve tremendous feats. Each era receives one word at a time. Just like ‘Quit India’ enabled all of India to achieve its independence. ‘Collective Service’ is one such phrase that has vast and profound meanings. Earlier, we had phenomenal leaders, but the days of leadership are over. That does not mean that we won’t be blessed with gifted people; in fact I think there will be people with even more potential than before and this is essential for the progress of humanity. But they will be so great that they will not assume the role of leaders. They will live as one with the people. Their beauty will lie in the fact that they will blend with society and work.
The universe has constantly sent men who will show humanity the way, but it has now decided that it will send us thoughts. Everyone will evaluate them, take decisions and together proceed ahead. The concept of humanity following one single person is out-dated. Social workers are too busy doing work and don’t do any in-depth thinking. That is why they do not adapt thoughts to their own context. They say that they are ‘Gandhian thinkers’ and work in line with ‘Gandhian principles’. The concept should not remain Gandhiji’s but should become their own. Only then will our internal faith build. If we make concepts our own, only then will enthusiasm build and we will have unanimous elation.
The beauty of the Bhoodan movement was that there was no pan-India leadership, because the Bhoodan Movement moved on its own feet. Even Buddha was not an all India leader. He travelled from Allahabad to Bodh Gaya speaking only Pali. But his thought was worthy of propagation and his life was led in accordance with this thought. Therefore, it spread across the world. The work for a ‘People’s revolution’ also takes place in one location, but travels across the world with the wind. Since I am also on a walking pilgrimage, the leadership is also local. In fact, it is not local leadership, but local service. And because we approach people as their servants, they donate land. Our strength lies in the fact that we are servants of our own selves, our own Gurus. The sparkling divinity in each person’s heart can be unearthed only when we approach them with this pure devotion.
I’m not interested in the grandeur of a full moon; I prefer being enraptured by the darkness of a moonless night. For in it we notice the countless stars in the sky. The stars that seem small are sometimes larger than the brightest star. They are all decorating the sky yet maintain their independence without the harsh light of the moon.
Vinobha Bhave, In Maitri Magazine, 12 Nov 2011.
‘Sabras’ was more than a collection of twenty individuals. It was about an aggregation of diverse thought processes that have now dispersed like grains of salt adding flavour to the world wherever they go. It is important that we facilitate its dispersion as effectively as we facilitated its aggregation, and that is why we share our thoughts.