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{1} Introduction, Postponement Creates Crises,

{2}, Do the Unpleasant First

{3}, Recognize the Problem and Act

{4}, Dealing With the Crisis

{5}, The Three Powers

{6}, Every Effort is a Calculated Risk

{7}, Be Ready For Failure

{8}, Accept Limitations

{9}, Recognize the Grace

{10} An Effective Person



Crisis Management involves two aspects avoiding a crisis and facing the crisis. There are crises created by factors within one’s control and such crises can be avoided. Then there are crises created by factors beyond one’s control and these crises have to ~be faced.

Very often a crisis is first created by an individual on account of certain habits in terms of patterns of thinking and behaviour and hence many crises can be avoided by changing these habits. Where the crisis is created by factors beyond one’s control, one has to manage it with the help of an understanding of the realities of life.

How to avoid a crisis is what I will discuss first, because I am afraid that a good number of crises in our personal life and also in our professional, social, national and even international life is created by us. Major crises can be avoided if we act upon a situation at the right time. There is an old saying, "A stitch in time saves nine." This is so true.

There are two tendencies, I find, which prevent us from acting at the right time. These are: postponement of the unpleasant and non-recognition of the problem. If we recognize these tendencies within ourselves and eliminate them, many crises can be avoided.

Postponement Creates Crises

There is this tendency, a typical Indian trait to postpone; to take care of what is easy, pleasant, less troublesome and postpone or even avoid that which is difficult, painful, troublesome.

As students we are told, when we go for examination, to attempt the easy questions first. This is all right if it is purely from the standpoint of time management. But if it becomes a trait for the child, I ant afraid it is in for crisis after crises. If one always looks for the easy and the pleasant, it becomes a trait.

Everyone has the trait in one-degree or the other — the tendencies to do what is easy, trouble free, pleasant and leave for future the issues that are difficult, troublesome. If we observe the behaviour of a typist in an office, we find he or she looks for the letters which are short, and where the handwriting is clear, in the pile of work at hand, and the work requiring more attention is pushed below. Even an officer, who has to attend to a variety of files, prefers to take care of those, which do not involve a difficult decision or a big commitment. If deciding an issue requires consulting other files or other people, which involves a certain effort, there is a tendency to postpone it. Thus the difficult issues keep piling up. They become irritants. You do not want to see them on your desk because they remind you of your inefficiency, your incapacity to face unpleasant issues. So you tend to keep them away from sight, you push them inside the drawers! But even though the files are kept away from sight, you carry them in your heart—the files remain with you when you go home because a thing undone always remains with you. Many of our medical problems result from this kind of a load, in the heart.

Take a domestic issue. Your wife wants to talk to you. You know it is unpleasant. You find she is hurt and she wants to complain about your mother or sister or brother. You do not want to hear that. You are the only person she can talk to. If you are ready to face the painful and Listen to her talk, perhaps the matter will be settled because all she wants is to talk. But when you avoid it, it piles up and one day she blows off. It becomes a crisis.


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Do the Unpleasant First

When a person is afraid of facing the situations, of assuming responsibility, the situation turns into a problem and then into a crisis. We create crisis by this postponing and I find it in students, in clerks, in executives, in young, in old. This has become a national trend in India. One wants to postpone the unpleasant and do the pleasant first. If I postpone the unpleasant, I am stuck with the unpleasant; if I do away with unpleasant first, I am left with the pleas-ant.

An intelligent man is one who accepts this problem, becomes aware in oneself, of this tendency to postpone. You cannot expect everything to be pleasant in life. Like the two sides of a coin, the unpleasant always goes with the pleasant. A person is mature when he or she accepts facts, does not evade something that is disagreeable.

When you find in yourself, a tendency to avoid the unpleasant, reverse this tendency — do the unpleasant first. Then you will find there is nothing unpleasant. I will tell you my own experience to illustrate this. I never liked this vegetable kãrelã, bitter gourd. I never thought it was necessary to like it also and so I always avoided it. One day, I decided that as a sadhu, I am going to eat kärelä. The next time karelã was served in my plate when I when I went for bhiksã I ate the whole helping first. The lady of the house thought I had liked it and so she served another helping. Since I had decided to eat kairelã, I ate the second helping too. On account of the proportion of kãrela that I ate in comparison to other vegetables, the lady concluded that kärelä was my favourite dish. Then the word went around and I found kãrelä wherever I went for bhiksã and I wound up eating kãrelã everyday for one month because of my own decision! And do you know the result? I started liking kãrela ! A new habit has been created; what was bitter before has become pleasant I am no more afraid of kärelä.

The one who does not postpone, has to make a decision, right or wrong, to fulfil the responsibility and that one alone can become successful. At least, every successful person has this trait of facing the unpleasant situations. Everyone who has this trait need not necessarily be successful in conventional sense because that kind of success, such as financial success, requires other factors such as being at the right place at the right time etc. But as a person, such an individual is mature. He or she does not suffer for want of making a decision. Writing a letter, a simple letter, at the right time, conveying congratulations at the right time — all these things are important, because not doing them can give rise to a lot of misunderstanding. If you make a decision to decide the issue next month, well, that is a decision. You may think that the data available at present is not sufficient and you will wait for a month — that is also a decision. That is all right because a deliberate planning is involved. But postponing something because it is unpleasant is wrong; it has the potential of creating a crisis and when it occurs, you will be frightened, frustrated and inadequate to face it.

If you make up your mind to do. the unpleasant first, you will find yourself changed. You will find there is nothing unpleasant. There are only situations; comfortable situations and difficult situations. You are mature enough to accommodate the unpleasant as you even accommodate the pleasant The acceptance of the unpleasant will help you avoid crises born of postponing.

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 Recognize the Problem and Act

Another habit, I find, which causes crisis, is disowning a problem, in other words, wishful thinking. When there is a problem, we say, "There is no problem. Everything will be all right". It will not be all right. You must remember Murphy’s law What can go wrong will go wrong. The possibility of a thing going wrong is much more than its going right. One can act upon a problem, however small it is, only when the problem is first accepted. Action presupposes a decision, a will, and the will can be only when there is recognition.

I recently came across this article in a magazine, about a doctor, a successful cardiac surgeon. He had pain in the chest He was informed enough, qualified enough to know this can be a warning or it can be a simple heartburn. What it is could only be decided by a checkup. But he did not take it seriously. At some point, be even thought of having a checkup but found himself too busy to spare time for it from his busy schedule. A fortnight went by in this way and he got a heart attack. Imagine, a cardiac surgeon getting a heart attack for want of a checkup l This is not a problem of postponement; it is the problem of nonrecognition of the problem.

Whether you create the problem or by others, you create a crisis by not accepting it, by wishful thinking, "Everything will be all right if my karma is good" Karma does not work that way. Theory of karma is not fatalism; it does not justify passing the buck; it pins down the responsibilities upon you. You had performed an action and you must own up the responsibility. Do not blame God or Stars or your father-in-law or anybody else.

You always have the ‘will’ along with the karma. There are certain things, which you cannot change — you cannot change your date of birth, your parentage etc. — and there are things you can change also. When something is not accomplished inspite of our effort, we may say there may be some karma on our part, which may be playing a role there. We recognise them as ‘my karma’; and not someone else’s karma and thus assume the responsibility. We accept karma but always go by will and do something about it. Even when an astrologer says you have a bad dasa — a sanidasa —he always recommends what you should do to minimise the effect. So it is not fatalistic, it is positive. We fight against our own karma. That is a tremendous amount of self-responsibility.

So accept a problem as it occurs. If there is a resemblance of a problem, investigate whether there is really a problem or not. That does not mean we should become suspicious or fearful. I am talking about the objectivity. However minor a situation is, attempt to see if there is a problem and if there is trouble, shoot it; do what is to be done.


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Dealing With the Crisis

When I cultivate the capacity to do the unpleasant, when I am willing to accept a problem as it occurs and am ready to act upon it, I avoid crisis, which could arise on account of factors within my control. Now I can face problems which are not solely created by me.

Many external factors are involved in a situation and they often contribute to the crisis. If, for example, you are an industrialist, there can be government policies which can interfere, there can be non-availability of raw material, there can be interference from other people who want to create trouble and so on. These are the problems not created by you but you have to face them since you live in the society. I do not think any society was free from such problems. Even in the days of Sri Räma, there was a Rävana - in fact Sri Rãma came because Rävana was there! Such situations will always be there — there will be asuras in the society, there will be situations that are not conducive. If there is such a thing as storm, storm will happen; if there is such a thing as famine, famine will happen. Unfavourable situations will keep arising and you have to face them, you have to deal with them.

There are no norms in dealing with a crisis because situations are different every time and with every person. Dealing with a crisis requires an inner strength and you should be able to do whatever is to be done. It is like driving through traffic. When we teach driving to a person, we cannot create for him or her, all possible traffic situations. We create some typical situations, give the person general guidelines, educate him or her about the rules of driving on the road and then the person has to deal with the particular situations as they occur. The driver has to manoeuvre his or her way through the trucks and buses and autorikshaws and pedestrians and what not. In our life also, we should be prepared to manoeuvre our way through different situations, which can be difficult or tricky. Such situations are called crisis. You must be alert and your values and capacities must be intact so that you can deal with the situations.


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The Three Powers

As a person, you are endowed with three powers; the power to know, the power to will and the power to act You have the power to know, to think, to explore, to enquire, to remember — all this together makes up the power to know, jnana-sakti. Then you have the power to desire, to will, to create this is called icchd-sakti power to will or desire. And When you have ‘the power to desire, you should also have power and skill to fulfil the desire. This is called kriyä--sakti, power to do or act. Every human being has these powers which he or she employs in different disciplines of knowledge and action. These are the powers at the command of the human being to act in different situations.

Just as it is necessary to know that you are endowed with these powers, it is equally necessary to know that these powers are limited. For example, you have the power to know but there is a limit to what and how much you can know. You may know this object as a rose, but that is not all about it. There are a variety of disciplines of knowledge such as plant physiology, biology etc., involved in a rose and even in those disciplines also, much remains to be discovered. So for everything you know, there is a lot that you do not know and so the power of knowledge is limited.

The power of desire is also limited. It is limited by your knowledge. For example, a hundred years ago, no one desired to possess a computer or to travel by a spaceship because such things were not known then. You cannot desire what you do not know and there are countless things you do not know. Similarly, your power to create, power to fulfill your desires is also limited. Fulfillment of a desire calls for skills, resources etc., and these are limited in every individual.

With these limitations of knowledge, skills etc., can you expect to succeed always?

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Every Effort is a Calculated Risk

Let us say you have some ‘money which you want to invest to make some profit. A friend advises you to buy a particular stock because its, prices are rising every day and there is a potential of making a good profit. You buy the stocks; all your savings are invested in this particular stock and the next thing that happens is that the market crashes because there is a sudden change in the Union cabinet! Now there is nothing wrong in desiring nor is there anything wrong in desiring money. But you should know that when you buy a stock or even cross a road, there is no rule that you will succeed. We should know this, understand this because knowledge liberates; it changes the person, makes him or her effective.

Success does not come as a rule. When you begin to cross a road, there is a hope that you will safely reach the other side. In absence of that hope, you would not even attempt to cross. You look in both the directions, find no vehicle coming from either direction and cross and reach the other side. But sometimes it happens that one fails to notice a vehicle approaching the spot where one is and thus winds up in a hospital. Every time you expect a result for an effort, you base your expectation upon a certain data. For example, when you make a business projection for the following year, you take into account factors such as potential demand, availability of raw materials, possible changes in tax structure, labour strikes etc., and, make your projection. This is true not only for business projection but for a simple act such as crossing a road. Your expectation is based upon your knowledge of certain facts but the knowledge is very often inadequate. You know that inspite of planning well, sometimes you do not get expected results. Thus, there is a speculation involved in every expectation. There is no doubt a certain basis for the speculation and so we call it a calculated risk. So crossing the road involves a calculated risk and eating a meal in a restaurant also involves a calculated risk — there is no way of knowing that a lizard has not fallen in the sämbãr you are eating! Even breathing is a calculated risk now-a-days with all the pollution and viruses


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Be Ready For Failure

Since every intelligent effort involves a calculated risk, either of the two results can be expected for every effort; success in different degrees and failure in different degrees. in fact, the result is only one and in accordance with the action but we look upon it as success or failure. These two results are possible for every effort — are you ready to accept this fact?

If you are ready to accept this fact, I tell you, you will be able to face the crisis better. But generally we refuse to accept this fact. You get depressed when you meet with a failure: "Swamiji, I failed". Did you expect this or not? You should have expected it when your effort> was a calculated risk. Why should you not expect the result, take it in a stride and proceed further? Why should you allow yourself to become sad, depressed and lose whatever effectiveness, efficiency, courage you have? In fact, a crisis requires more courage than a normal situation does, but here, a crisis has made you less effective, less courageous. With every failure, a person seems to become more -and more ‘depressed, gets more and more frightened and a time comes when one is not’ ‘able to act at all. So it is important that you are prepared for a failure in your effort, because success does not come as a rule, because your powers are limited, because every effort is a calculated risk.

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Accept Limitations

To be ready for failure, it is necessary to recognise our limitations. Our knowledge is limited and so we cannot avoid many situations from occurring — otherwise we can avoid all accidents. Sometimes we have the knowledge, but our power is limited. We know that a cyclone is coming, but what can we do? May be the people can be shifted to a safe place but what about the animals and the trees and the houses? Very often we find ourselves helpless. So it is important to recognise our limitations; then only can we enjoy our virtues. If you do not accept your limitations, you get frustrated "How can this happen to me?" I would ‘ask, "How can the other thing, success, happen to you?" So many nice things have been happening to you. Why not recognise them?

You lose your ability to make use of your virtues, your powers by refusing to accept your limitations. You find yourself sad, depressed. Depression dictates your disposition. How can any one be effective in dealing with a crisis when one is incapable of dictating one’s own disposition? If you permit yourself to get depressed for reasons you seem to have no control over, well, you become helpless and the crisis, the outside factors will make you more and more inefficient, ineffective.

Depression is a reaction. In action, you have freedom, you exercise your will. When a situation is a crisis, it calls for an action from you, an immediate action. But here, the crisis makes you depressed, frustrated, helpless and one crisis leads to another and finally you get a heart attack — one more crisis, not only for you but also for your family and many others. Therefore, a crisis — financial or physical —requires you together as a person and that can-be only when you are free from depression and frustration. You cannot .get freedom from depression, sadness etc., by will because they do not seek your permission before coming. You have to go to the root of depression and one of the important reasons is the refusal to accept your limitations.

There’ is another factor also which you should recognise to enable you to become positive.


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Recognize the Grace

Accepting limitations enables you to be prepared for failure. The fact is, every one of us is born to fail ! Our knowledge is limited and therefore our projection can always go wrong. All, our expectations should go wrong! But look at yourself. You have been successful all the time! It is not that you have to make money to be called successful. You are successful -because you are surviving against all odds. How many times have you crossed roads? How many times and how many varieties of food have you eaten in restaurants? And you are still surviving. I look upon you as a successful person just because you are together as a person. It takes no time for an accident to happen and a person can end up in a wheelchair — this is happening every day to someone somewhere. It is not necessary that you should’ commit a mistake for meeting with an accident when you are driving — you can meet with an accident due to someone else’s mistake too. Coming to think of it, you are always in the jaws of death, but you are still alive and so you have always been successful.

Is it not necessary therefore, for an intelligent person, to recognise something that makes the difference between success and failure? It is very important — psychologically important —to recognise this factor which seems to have been working all along in your life. This factor is what we call grace, daivam.

You cannot manage a crisis unless you are together as a person, you are mature as a person and that maturity calls for the recognition of this factor. You - may call it luck or chance but we do not leave anything to chance. We call it ‘earned grace’. Recognition of this factor enables a person to accept the situations with composure. With composure, I can act upon a situation with the powers I am endowed with. I can study the situation better, understand it better, plan better and act better. This is all I can do anyway.

If I recognise the grace, I can offer a prayer also. I can make prayer a regular part of my effort. This is what makes the Indian culture unique. When an Indian driver — even if he is .a Christian — takes the car out in the morning, he first offers a salute before ,getting into the car. When we are building a house, we offer a - püjã -before starting the construction and again offer a piij~ before entering the house; there also, we place the Lord first and then, enter. This is because we understand that the difference between success and failure is on account of the grace, daivam and we invoke that factor. That makes one psychologically secure. Our culture is nonseparate from religion and nonseparate from our understanding of realities also.


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An Effective Person

In recognising a power other than yourself, you recognise your limitations. The more you recognise the limitations, the more effective you become, the more positive you become. You have been a success all the time; there is no reason to be disappointed, to have a sense of failure. The very fact that you are alive shows that so much grace is flowing in your life.

There is no such thing as failure. Failure is a sense that we impute upon a situation that we did not expect. You did what you could do and that is all that is expected of you. There is a risk involved in every venture and so the result is not a failure; .-there is only wrong expectation and that is always expected because your knowledge is limited. You better expect that. When we think of an accident or a failure, we always think of it as happening to someone else and not to us. That is not right. It can happen to us also. With this understanding, you become alert, like a sports person, ready to handle the situation as it occurs. You play the game and play it well. When you play, you play to win, but someone has -to lose because both cannot win in a game. Your knowledge and powers being inadequate, failure is always there up in the - sleeves of future. If it comes, take it, become wiser and face the situation whether it is a crisis or not. You do not create further crisis.

What has happened, has happened. You cannot do anything about it. Now you can make amends or repairs if you like. Acceptance of facts is a precondition to an action, non-acceptance is an ideal condition for reaction — in fact non— acceptance itself is a reaction. Non-acceptance does not alter the facts and one reaction creates a chain of reactions. So accept the fact and keep acting. Then life becomes a learning experience. There are no failures — there is only further learning.

Graceful acceptance is more recognition. It is not surrender. I accept a situation, pleasant or unpleasant, and act upon it. Surrender is when I do not act upon a situation. On account of my limitations, I cannot call all the shots; I do Dot have all the strings in my hands. If this is understood, I will accept the situation, otherwise I cannot accept. There is no defeat because defeat is when one cannot accept facts. So accept facts and proceed. There is no problem and the development is purely in tenns of understanding, nothing else.

I will conclude saying that - you have to accept your limitations gracefully and thereby avoid depressions, frustrations and the sense of failure. Then you become one who is together as a person endowed with the three powers at your disposal and you do what you can do. This makes you an effective person to face any crisis.

Om Tat Sat