Being a good person

Buddha exhorted : Be a good person, but don’t waste time to prove it.

If you think about it, this is great wisdom indeed. More popular poster art puts it a trifle differently : There is no limit to the amount of good that you can do : if you don’t mind who gets the credit.

Nobody stops you from being good, doing the right things, leaving the world a better place than we found it. However, today unfortunately we want to play to the gallery. We will do good if others will acknowledge me. We want to be admired and recognized. And get the same approbation that little Jack Horner wanted in his corner: he wanted it to end as ” What a good boy am I” . But when there is no credit, no public applause, no labels and stickers and bands for celebration : less people are ready to come forward to do good. Sad but true!

Of course there are exceptions, and those we must recognize and celebrate. Stories of an old Gujrati couple who donated their lifelong saving of over a crore of rupees for soldiers’ welfare. A rickshaw puller in Tamil Nadu who donates enough to start a library in the college in his village. Such examples gladden the cockles of one’s heart. And I want to write about some even more simple examples.

My father had a transferable job and during his 40 years’ career we must have changed 10 to 12 locations/houses. Shifting house did not have the support which today’s moves have. There were no packers and movers whom you could call. We had to ask the local grocery shop and offices for cartons. Each plate and piece of crockery was individually wrapped in newspaper by family members themselves. Shifting were great days, as for a week your kitchen was closed and you were being invited for breakfast, lunch and dinner at friends’ and neighbors’ houses. On the last day, the truckers came with some unskilled help and moved all the packages you had packed into the truck and took off.

On all these occasions, I remember my mother used to ensure that one broom was not packed. It was kept separately. And after all packages and furniture was removed, she would personally sweep the empty house. Idea was the empty house should appear clean and fresh for the new incumbent. What an attitude! What a learning that left on our impressionable minds!! Clean behind you. Do not ever leave a mess. Think of the next person who is yet to appear. What if we all practiced this simple learning in all that we do in our lives. I am sure the world would be a far far better place to live in.

Sometimes, in some locations, our frugal furniture would be supplemented with office furniture. God help anyone of us who did not treat it with respect and deference that office furniture deserved. Cupboards had to be closed carefully. If there was a loud banging sound of the door closing, immediately we would be reprimanded; “Arre office ka hai. Thik se use karo” ” Don’t put your feet on the center table. Office ka hai.” “Apna nahi ki ki tum kaise bhi use karo”. Office ka hai, careful, careful, careful.

The very day our goods were transported, we ourselves would get on a train to go to our new destination. We would reach and stay in the Guest House as our stuff was still enroute. A new series of “dawats” and invitations would start. It was getting to know new colleagues and their families. And when the truck finally reached, the reverse process of unpacking would start. New school, new friends, new neighbors, new colleagues, new equations, new adjustments. One more cycle completed one more cycle begun. As soon as the house was set, it was a practice that my parents would invite all new colleagues and their families for lunches and dinners. It was not only the people who were moving, but also the people who were staying on, as now they are your new friends and family, your new support system.

It took a couple of cycles for us children to understand that what my parents were practicing is what is called “feed forward” in today’s management parlance. They intuitively knew and understood that all the lunches and dinners they had enjoyed before leaving say Kolhapur; had to “given back” in say Amravati. So when they left Amravati and went to Pune, the feed forward mechanism ensured that they were welcomed and made at home in Pune. Their reputation as nice human beings always preceded them. They did good and moved on. A la Buddha they did not waste any time in publicity or propagation. That happened automatically.

My father took it to an extreme. He believed that his hard earned money would never be lost or misappropriated. ” I have never done anything bad to anyone. So why will anyone do anything bad to me” was his life’s philosophy. And he had the courage to live that. Doing good without any expectation of returns, he only got good in return.

29th May was his birthday. If he was alive he would be 89 years old today. But whether we feel his physical presence around us or not, we can never be far from all that he taught us. We all try and practice as much as possible his basic teaching : Do good and leave the rest. Life will repay you.

Thank you Baba for helping us understand the power of being good: vikas

21 Replies to “Being a good person”

  1. Loved the fundamental message of your piece and the small but significant acts that you experienced and shared in your blog. The “feed forward” concept is so inspiring. The world would be a much better place if everyone tried to do a good deed!
    Cheers and continue writing!!!

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  2. Excellent One Vikas Boss! Loved the article…..it really touched me, do good when someone is not looking at you, do it without any expectation of appreciation or recognition…..really difficult! But one certainly can….thanks a ton sir….Keep writing, you are and always be an inspiration for me and many of my generation. Thanks again for sharing your wonderful insights and teachings! Regards, Rohan

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    1. Thanks Rohan for your kind words and appreciation. We are what we are due to the contributions support and blessings of all the “good” people in our lives who encouraged and guided us. I was fortunate to have worked with some very good human beings who were of course good professionals.
      Keep encoraging me and I will keep writing. I must say I am enjoying myself

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  3. Boss… maza aagaya… purani yaadeN taza ho gayeeN. Naana jaan Nani jaan… all had great way to communicate with others. Poor neighbours would never go hungry, they would get food without their asking for it. Kitchen ki khushboo or no khushboo will tell the tale.
    GOOD old people taught us the art of living and not the art of leaving.
    Keep writing Boss.

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    1. Asim miyan zahe naseeb . I am honored that my story reminded you of Nana Nani. We are one common human chain and our stories are intertwined. That is why they resonate in our hearts and make us warm and emotional. Our human condition is similar if not same. The faster we discover this and learn to like it the better off we will be. One day we will all leave. But how we live till we leave will make a lot of diffrence. To ourselves and also to others around us.
      aap ne wo purana sher yaad dila diya
      Khudi ko kar itna buland ki har taqdeer se pehle
      Khuda bande se khud pooche “teri raza kya hai”

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  4. Great post. Missed knowing both your parents closely. Am not much of a foodie, but am passionate about cleaning. Loved the incidence of sweeping after the packing! Definitely a good person.

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    1. Thanks Nilambari. Yes that was indeed one of the unique touches which showed the orientation to leave the world a better place. Very few people have that thinking and orientation.

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  5. Jesus did not spend a great deal of time discoursing about the trinity or original sin or the incarnation, which have preoccupied later Christians. He went around doing good and being compassionate.
    -Karen Armstrong

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  6. Issue is not only “doing good things” it is also “being good” which is acknowledgement and appreciation from others. Our inner desire for appreciation is deep routed and manifest in smallest things. Words like “thanks”, “thank you”, “I like it” etc are common even if they are uttered without real meaning. Buddha’s wisdom is ultimately a sort of “dependency” on outer for our happiness which is the cause of all unhappiness.

    You family experience is wonderful.

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    1. Yes KK today’s interactions have become superficial and even false. Which is where the “manipulation” sets in. I fully agree we need to cut the umbilical cord of “dependency” and stand resplendent and brave in what we truly believe and what we genuinely are. Tough. But doable.

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  7. Vikas Sir,
    Nice one, demonstrates the practice of family bonding in earlier times in a nostalgic manner. And of course, good deeds get noticed by the almighty.

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    1. Mayuram: You said it. The days of no internet and no smart phones mean the skill of relating and conversing was in focus and we all were more relaxed and understood the importance of being for each other. World changes and we need to cope and move with the times. But sometimes one does wonder whether in the final analysis we have gained or lost?

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  8. Reminds me of the story of faith where when everyone goes to pray for rain only one boy goes with an umbrella. Our parents’ faith in life and living was indeed a listen. Pray we can live up to it

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  9. Thanks Sadiq miyan. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by positive persons like you from whom I got a chance to learn a lot. The effort through these blogs is to share my life’s learnings

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  10. Thank you so much for the post!
    Good people don’t die… they leave/make/inspire more good people, or rather more goodness in other people in their wake…
    He lives through us…

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      1. Nice one sir. I always enjoy reading your blogs. Besides being very interesting in content, your blogs also inspire us to imbibe the good in everything. Keep writing. More strength to you. M Sadique

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