Story about "What is Important?" and a Prayer for Balance
IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE
A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty widemouthed gallon jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.[This is a story which is used in the Japa Retreat for setting our priorities of what is really important. I also found in on the Internet taken here with a little modification (i.e., "swanning")]
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.
They agreed it was. The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He then asked once more if the jar was full.
The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”
“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.
The rocks are the important things - your spiritual practices including the holy name, Vaishnava association, your family, your partner, your health, your children or dependents- things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter - possessions and facilities that support your service, like your job, your house, your car. The sand or "the small stuff” is everything else.
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life.
If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life, for having balance in relationship to your spiritual progress and inner happiness. Do the needful in relationship to your spiritual and material life, taking the opportunity to stretch yourself in service, and think long term [don't be a shooting star]. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, and other “maintenance” projects, yet never forget the importance of relationships, and your spiritual life. Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Don’t “major in minor or trivial things”.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.
By the grace of my dear Gurus and the previous acharyas—always seeking their blessings, I offer my humble prayers to you, my dear Lords Nitai-Gaura and Shri Shri Radha-Krishna.
I know there is a general and ultimate plan for everyone’s life and a specific purpose unique to my personal nature and destiny. I know it is your desire that my life be in alignment to your will as expressed in scripture and by great devotees, and that my life be filled with joy, purpose and victory in your service.
Please help me today to fulfill the destiny You have planned for my life by helping me make the appropriate choices for your service, moment by moment. I know that to accomplish this, I must live a life in concert to your instructions. In order to do this, please let me keep a life of balance, with my priorities in the proper place and my mind and heart focused on You.
Please help me to attain the necessary balance in all areas of my life, by taking proper care of my body, mind, emotions, intellect, and soul, in relationship to my spiritual practices, family, occupation, society of devotees, the larger society of the world, and the Universe. Examine my heart, and show me those places where I may be out of balance.
Taking into consideration my conditioning and level of spiritual advancement, please help me to focus on the activities that are most important for the time, yet not opposed to your service. Therefore, let me attend to my physical/emotional needs (etc.), yet keep me from being distracted by trivial worldly things that would take away my time and attention from You and Your service. Protect me from persons or things that try to [or I allow to] keep me from reaching my spiritual goals and achieving the dreams I have been inspired to pursue in your service.
And most of all, my dear Lords, remind me daily that you have called me to be fruitful in my devotional service and my life, not just to be busy for the sake of being busy—or to make a show. Give me the wisdom and strength to produce in abundance that which is most important and constructive in my life and service, and in the lives of those around me who look to me for inspiration and guidance. Thank you for reminding me of your constant presence everywhere and within everyone; for helping me to grow spiritually, mature intelligently, age gracefully, and to offer every area of my life to you with love.
By your grace and help, may your will and purpose be done, through me, within me and around me! May I live each day in gratitude for your kindness (even in difficulties or reverses) and see the miraculous in all things and circumstances, including the so-called tiny or ordinary aspects of life.
Here is a video for you (it takes a litttle while to download) :