Recently I was surfing the TV channels, when I stumbled upon a reality show, which is focused on testing the physical stamina of the contestants in every possible manner. After each event, one contestant is eliminated till the last one standing is crowned as the winner! In the few minutes I watched this show – before I moved on with my surfing – the judges were assessing the contestant to determine which one would be eliminated next, at the end of that show. One of the judges said, “XYZ has all the talents to make it to the finals. But it is not good enough just to be talented. You have to perform when the spot light is on you. Otherwise you are still in the dark and in the shadows”! The harsh reality of these shows is that those who do not perform when the spotlight is on are dismissed unceremoniously. Fortunately real life is far kinder than these reality shows!
There is a proverb which states, “Every one gets a few minutes of fame”. That is true only when you are ready to perform, when the spotlight is on. Why is it that many with lots of talents do not step up to the plate or even when they do, are not able to perform to their full potential? This is the perennial question faced by teachers, coaches, elders or leaders of any kind. What is it that makes one shine through when the spot light is on and thus perform to the full potential, despite all odds? This is the question addressed effectively by every one who is successful in anything. When the spot light is on, one could pull all the stops and burst forth, being cheered on by others. There could be revulsion and withdrawal in rising up to the occasion. Of course real life is a spectrum between these extremes.
Spirituality in practice comprises of helping others shine, when the spotlight is on them. This could be in the form of help to others to identify their inherent talents, identify the moment when the spot light is on them and facilitate their ability to shine through at those moments! Scriptures offer many metaphors for guidelines in such matters in our daily life.
Commitment, courage and faith are essential ingredients to perform well, when the spotlight is on. In the story of Bhagawath Geetha, Arjuna the hero, is also the best among the warriors. The spot light is on him, when he is ready to face his arch enemies in the battle field. Just when the war is about to begin, he drops his weapons and pleads with Krishna(his chariot driver) that he is not ready to fight and that he should be excused! This is often described as “the hysteria of Arjuna in the battle field”. Another view of this metaphor is as follows: Arjuna was not a coward, nor was he panic-stricken. But, even at the precipice of a crisis, he was courageous enough to ask the question “Why this war? Why this action? What is right? What is wrong? Why?”; he was also committed to find the answers before proceeding further; at the same time he also had the faith that answers to his questions do exist and he can find them on his own through his process of inquiry and/or that he can get those answers from some one else with the necessary wisdom (i.e. Krishna). In other words, when the spotlight was on, Arjuna was ready to perform, with courage, commitment and faith for self-inquiry as the pre-requisites. No one will know for sure, how Arjuna truly felt in the scriptural episode. But, such emphasis on self-control is essential for effective performance especially when you are under the spotlight.
One need not be in the spot light only in the context of a reality show. Every moment of life is an opportunity to be in the spotlight. The ability to smile, say a kind word or offer a helping hand to total stranger are all moments when we grab the spot light. These are also the moments when the spirituality in us shines through. Offering help at moments of distress, objective counsel or a pleasant conversation with some one we know, with no expectations what so ever are all acts of spirituality, when we let the spot light shine on us.