One day I was travelling from Kanpur to New Delhi with a young man and we had discussion on a variety of subjects. The young man had just returned from the USA after doing his MBA and was in the process of settling down in India. The discussion, therefore, focused on this aspect. He had known me for quite some time and had been seeking my guidance but it was the first opportunity of having such a long session at a stretch. This gave both of us an opportunity to know each other more closely. Perhaps, he was unaware of many aspects of my life, of which he came to know during this journey. At the end of the journey he commented that it had been really a very useful journey and he had got an opportunity of understanding my mind regarding his career planning. To this, I Iightly remarked that it was only the tip of the iceberg and what had been discussed was only a small portion of what I had in mind. I invited him for further discussion and thereafter we could work out a detailed plan of the activities to be undertaken by him.
Somehow the phrase ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ got stuck in my mind and I started contemplating over it. Many interesting comparisons came to my mind which I propose to write here. My first reaction was that the ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ is a true description of one’s condition in this world. The world is like an ocean and we are like icebergs. Most portion of ours remain submerged in this worldly ocean and only a part remains outside. If we want to know the reality of ourselves, we have to rise above the world. Even if we remain inside the world, we should know our real size. In a way we can say that it is the process of self-realisation which makes us know our identity. And this is possible only when we are able to identify ourselves as different from the objective world. The ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ can also be compared to several other aspects of our life. It indicates that we use only part of our talent and most of it remains hidden. We should discover this potential and make use of it. The same concept should be applied to others too. We must understand that like us others too have a lot of hidden potential and they should be motivated to use it. If all of us make full use of our talents, the world will change for the better. Mobilization of our talent is possible when we become aware of it and make a determined effort to use it.
The comparison with the iceberg should also be used when we look at our shortcomings. Like an iceberg our negative tendencies are not visible to us and if at all we see them, only a part is seen. So the endeavor should be to know our shortcomings and remove them. While there is no need to expose our weaknesses we should gradually overcome them. This is possible only when we are able to accept them. Another lesson to be learnt from the iceberg is how to float in the ocean of the world. An iceberg floats because the density of the ice is a little less than that of water. It means that though a form of water, an ice berg is different from it. Similarly, while we should be in the world, we should be indifferent to it. This is possible only when we lighten ourselves by not worrying too much about worldly things which in any case are of a transitory nature. If we are able to do so, we can also float in the world like an iceberg and keep our identity intact. One more lesson to be learnt from the iceberg is that like an iceberg we are also melting away day by day and one day there will be complete merger with the sea. If the vastness of the sea is compared with the vastness of God, we can say that we are from the very beginning part of God and appear to be different for a certain period of time because of the body. Ultimately with the death of the body we merge with God.
Thus the Iceberg gives us some very interesting messages about life and if we take them in the right spirit, life can be made much more meaningful and purposeful.
‘Insult’ is a word frequently used in day-to-day life. History is full of instances where an ‘insult’ has turned the course of events and led to major wars. Even the famous war of ‘Mahabharata’ had its genesis in the ‘lnsult' of Duryodhana by Draupadi. While ‘insult’ in itself may not be explosive yet it definitely works as a spark and whenever the background is explosive, the spark of insult causes explosion. Quite often the person who is insulted or feels insulted is also the victim of this explosion, while the person who caused it, may remain unaffected. Thus we find that in most of the cases the person feeling insulted suffers more if he allows the explosion to take place. Therefore what should be one’s attitude in an insulting situation, deliberate or otherwise? My answer to this question is that you should refuse to be insulted and beat the opponent at his own game. How to do so will be discussed in this write-up.
First of all, one should analyse whether in a given situation one has been insulted or one is only feeling insulted. If we objectively undertake such an analysis, we shall find that in most cases the alleged offender had no intention of insulting us and the events which make us feel insulted are not deliberate acts. They are either on account of someone’s ignorance, lack of education, mere innocence, misinformation or our own inferiority complex. In such a situation it is mainly our own ego which makes us feel insulted. There can be a number of such situations. For example, you have been invited to attend a function and you consider yourself important enough to be given a seat in the front row. When you occupy such a seat, someone points out your mistake. At this you may feel insulted and may even lose your temper. After this even if offered a seat on the dais, you may feel hurt and find it difficult to focus your attention on the deliberations. The right course in such a situation would be to occupy a seat at the back and if you really deserve a front seat, the organisers will probably apologise and offer you a front seat. This will also enhance your prestige in their eyes. However if this does not happen, you may presume that you do not deserve a front seat and by not occupying one, you have saved an ugly situation.
There are a large number of such situations when we feel insulted without being insulted. We do so even with our close relations and friends. An invitation card for an important function at a close friend’s place has not reached you and without trying to find out the facts, you start feeling insulted and imputing all sorts of motives to your friend who himself feels sad for your absence from the function. So much so that you even avoid him when he tries to contact you adding to yours as well as his agony. The same thing may happen between brother and brother, father and son or even husband and wife. All such instances indicate your own lack of confidence. A person who is confident of oneself should never react in a hurry but should try to find out the facts. Even if the facts indicate that he has been ignored, he should take them coolly and redefine or review his relationship.
There may be another kind of situation where you have been insulted or ignored deliberately but in good faith. This is done to make you realise something which will help you. A father reprimanding his son, or a teacher punishing his student are such examples. The same thing may be done by a well meaning friend or relative. In such a situation, the role of both becomes important. While the person being insulted or ignored should take it gracefully, the person causing it should also not cross the limit, otherwise the outcome may become counter-productive. However, the underlying message is that there is no cause for feeling insulted. As a matter of fact these situations should refine you and you should be grateful to the person creating such a situation.
The third type of insult is more difficult to deal with and it is when you are insulted deliberately. Such insult may be inflicted out of jealousy, enmity or just to dampen your spirits. The person causing such an insult is likely to be in a superior position than the victim in one way or another. He may be stronger in strength, in position or in wealth. However such persons are internally weak and can be defeated with wisdom. For this the first thing to do is to maintain one’s poise. If the poise is lost, the person causing the insult wins the game. Secondly, such a situation should be turned into an opportunity to grow. There are several examples in history where great men became great because they were insulted sometime in their lives but drew deep inspiration from such insults. The example of our own Father of the Nation is known to all of us. An insult by a white man who threw him out of the first class compartment of a running train changed the course of not only his own life but of the whole nation. The situation would perhaps have been different, had he reacted angrily at that moment and ended up in a police lock-up.
Thus we find that in all situations of insult unintentional, in good faith or deliberate, there is no need to feel hurt but every need to think constructively. If we do so, we shall not only elevate ourselves but also win over the person who insults us. In worldly terms we can insult him by refusing to be insulted.