Have you heard that old maritime legend?
A battleship was on an exercise at sea in bad weather. The captain was on the bridge. It was foggy. Just after dark the lookout spotted a light on the starboard side. The captain asked if it was steady or moving. The look out replied the light was steady meaning they were on a direct collision course with that ship! The captain ordered the lookout signal to the other ship:
“Change course 20 degrees. We are on a collision course.”
The signal came back ‘”Advisable for you to change course.”
The captain signaled ‘”I am a captain. Change course 20 degrees.”
“I am a seaman, second class. You had better change course 20 degrees” came the reply.
The captain was furious. He sent back ‘”I am a battleship. Change course!”
Back came the signal, “I am a lighthouse. Your call.”
Can’t we all relate to being stubborn like the captain and not changing course until an unmoving force like the lighthouse demands from us redirection?
It reminds me of one time when as a young teenager I got into an argument with my mother. For some reason we started talking about Los Angeles. She said something like, “You might like LA.” At the time we were living in Wilmington, Delaware, and I was very proud of being a tough guy Italian American from the East Coast.
I responded to her with inflated pride and anger shouting three times:
“I’ll never move to Los Angeles!”
I got louder and more sure of myself with each declaration. After the third time, I recall hearing a silent ringing as if my guardian angels were having a laugh. I thought to myself, “Jeez, I should be more careful about what I say.”
My mother used to say, “Be careful what you wish, you just may get it.” Or in this instance be careful what you are strongly averse to as you’ll also draw that to yourself.
I had completely forgotten about this experience until years later when Swami Kriyananda asked Dharmadevi and me to move to Los Angeles!
Let’s face it, as Swami Sri Yukteswar said, “Human conduct is ever unreliable until anchored in the Divine.”
What can we really rely on?
The Lighthouse of God.
And it is to our benefit to draw on that Divine Light through the saints and masters as much as we can.
Swami Kriyananda shares a story about Ananda Moi Ma:
“I remember the last time I saw that great woman saint in India, Ananda Moi Ma. She was very old and just about ready to leave her body. And I thought, all her life, even from childhood, she was constantly giving, constantly surrounded by people who drew from her. I said, “What a wonderful life you’ve had, what a wonderful sacrifice, and what a blessing for others that you should have given so much.” You know what her answer was? It was quite surprising to me. She replied very calmly, “Is that how you see it?” What I said to her was the way anyone of us would have seen it, but she didn’t see it that way. Because, as I understand it, her statement was motivated by two thoughts: that it was God giving through her, and that no giving was involved.
A lighthouse doesn’t give light. It simply is light. It is the ships that take that light and make something of it. Master said that, for the disciple, it is all-important to draw what he can; but to the guru, it doesn’t mean anything. His nature is to share. There is no giving in the normal human sense. There is no giving in that there’s no sense of “I” giving, and it is not giving because there’s no sense of pushing outward. There is just being, and in that being, people who understand and appreciate draw what they can.”
~ from Building Spiritual Power Against Troubled Times by Swami Kriyananda
So the next time you’re so absolutely sure of your direction, be open to other perspectives. Be on the lookout for the great Light of God!