Remember that parking-incident that I quoted in the previous issue? Let me describe it again…

“A very interesting thing happened as I was walking towards Gulab Bhavan this morning. There was an office-goer parking his motor-bike on the stand. After the bike was parked, he noticed that it was jutting ahead of the line of two-wheelers parked there. So he simply went to the back of his bike and started pulling it backwards. It was hard work and could be damaging to the stand too. I stopped and told him: ‘Listen, in the first place you must position your bike correctly and then park. If you realize it late, don’t yank it so violently… just take it off the stand, align, and re-park. Simple.’ This has a few lessons for us all…”

Well, it is time now for that promised article on the lessons from that incident. Allow me to relate that incident with the 7 deadly sins according to Mahatma Gandhi.

In our pursuit towards excellence, we must not forget to set some principles to guide our behavior. We need to keep a check on our value system consistently. The seven deadly sins according to Mahatma Gandhi are:

1.    Wealth without work
2.    Pleasure without conscience
3.    Knowledge without character
4.    Commerce without morality
5.    Science without humanity
6.    Religion without sacrifice
7.    Politics without principle

Each of the perversions mentioned above reflect a lack of values. They are real-time barriers to the pursuit of excellence! How do we check our value system? Give yourself a constant mirror test. Every time you let your heart overtake your brain, every time you lie, every time you feel rules are made to be broken, every time you feel an inclination to try situational ethics, you are moving away from the path of excellence!

This is exactly what that man in the parking-lot was doing! Let us take the above principles one by one and relate them to that man in the parking-lot…

ONE: Avoid wealth without work
Wealth creation is NOT a dubious activity if done the right way. Every activity leads to wealth creation… as does the simple act of parking your bike! When you park right, you are learning the basics of discipline, helping with parking aesthetics, and easing movement between the lines of parked bikes. Now tell me, can you create or get this wealth without having worked in the right way? Thus wealth without working the right way is a sin.

TWO: Avoid pleasure without conscience
If pulling and yanking the bike gives you pleasure, then God save your conscience! You will merely want pleasure the same way in your professional as well as personal lives… God save your company and your family!

THREE: Avoid knowledge without character
You obviously know that there is always more than one way to accomplish any task. That is knowledge. However, if you deliberately opt for a way or a method that scrapes and scathes and bruises objects and people… you need treatment. Knowing is not harmful, but doing knowingly is definitely an evil that you can and must avoid. The guy in the parking-lot knew that his method will be harming the parking area as well as his bike.

FOUR: Avoid commerce without morality
Commerce is business. Business is between two entities, not necessarily human. This interaction between a man and his bike comes very much near to any definition of business. However, the man is not having moral intent in his business relationship as he is profiting by using the bike and is repaying by being careless with it!

FIVE: Avoid science without humanity
Science is involved in everything. Making money in the stock market is also a science. So is driving. And so is parking a bike rightly. In fact, some will argue that even NOT parking a bike rightly needs scientific perfection… avoid this form of perfection! Once you see science in every act, including the dusting and the cleaning that your maid does at home, you will respect life and the living MORE… and become a better human. The choice is yours.

SIX: Avoid religion without sacrifice
Care. Concern. These are not mere words to be bandied about with brashness. These are the basic blocks of human equity. Care and concern also mean ‘religion’ for the spiritually evolved human. Now equate this with the incident in the parking-lot and you will know what I mean.

SEVEN: Avoid politics without principle
Henry Brooks Adams had remarked unprincipled politics as “a practice, whatever its professions, as being the systematic organization of hatreds.” Tell me, which organization or professional gained from ‘hatred’? Hatred demeans and diminishes you… and it begins where concern STOPS. If you’re not concerned about a bike, will you be concerned about your colleagues, friends, siblings, relationships…?

Park your bike with care and concern! Don’t smile or giggle… what is implied is that you must learn to envelop yourself with care and concern. That is the surest way to have a better, happier, and a successful existence!

[Arvind Passey]
Published in ‘The Learner’