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 Blooming Stars

Human Situations – 3

            Life presents many situations joyful as well as painful. It is the greatest university where we learn the art of living. Whatever situation we are in is the right situation we are called to face with confidence, courage, and serenity. The way we deal with our adverse situations especially shows us who we are, what we are about, and what guides our life, that is, our philosophy of life.

            Situation 3: After a fulfilling life in the USA, my wife and I decided to live a holistic life devoted to spirituality beyond religions in India. We decided to make our Shantisadan Siddhashram (Peacehaven Center for Realization) in a small village in the outskirts of Munnar our headquarters. We had little knowledge of what we were getting into. My wife volunteered to teach communicative English in a school very near to a parish school competing with it. Our relationship with the Catholic parish seemed to be fine before a bigoted, young parish priest decided to 'straighten us' out. After the ward prayer meeting conducted in a home near the ashram, a well-meaning and prominent member of the parish happened to tell the priest about the improved standard of spoken English since my wife started teaching in the rival school.

            His ignorant and bigoted answer was: "What good can come out of a person living in sin?" According to him we were an unmarried couple causing scandal to others. His answer shocked a close relative of mine who attended the prayer meeting. She communicated this information through an aunt of hers to my manager who happened to be my nephew, and who in his fear and naivete shielded me from this information for fear of hurting me and also taking on a powerful parish priest. I did not know what was going on as I was the last one to get the information. When I did get the information through a close friend of mine after a couple of months, a great deal of damage to good will for us has already taken place.

            After verifying the information from others present at the prayer meeting, I decided to confront the parish priest through a hand-delivered letter. In the letter I asked him to apologize publicly if he made statements damaging to our reputation publicly. To make the story short, the priest created a smoke-screen to cover his crime. His parishioners got emotionally charged in support of him and damaged, in the cover of night, my car and my property causing a large financial loss. My manager's house was encircled at night causing him a minor mental breakdown. To add insult to injury, my folks came from my home town far away, and without my knowledge went to the parish, and apologized to the parish priest apparently to save me from bodily harm and further financial damage to my property. When we came to know of it, my wife asked my close relatives to leave our premises.

             The written complaint to the local police inspector brought him and his police officers to the ashram. The police inspector asked me if I wanted to press the charges against the parish priest or to settle the problem through conversation with him. I agreed to settle the issues through dialogue in keeping with the spirit of the ashram. After two weeks I was told by the police inspector that the priest would not be able to come for the meeting due to possible complications with the Church. I was faced again with pressing the charges against the parish priest or letting the whole thing go. After agonizing prayerful reflection, I decided to let go. This unrepentant priest is at large after he was transferred. The parishioners finally seem to have realized the damage caused by a misguided priest; and they have at present a positive attitude toward the ashram.

            Others may have made other decisions in the situation I faced. I made the decision I thought would be best in view of who I am, and what my mission in life is. Any priest or leader can hide behind a smoke-screen for some time. Finally facts would have to speak for themselves. And as Abraham Lincoln once said: "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time".

 

     
 
 
 
 
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