Storytelling at Work
May 26, 2020
Inspiring Cows

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"Practice," it has been said, "makes perfect". Practice, indeed, is how human beings translate theory into action. Practice is how any of us get good at anything. Of course, there are a million of ways to practice. In a group. Alone. In a cave. In a gym. In your mind. Online. Off the wall. With a teacher. Without a teacher. The sky's the limit and even then there are pilots who can help. The following story is all about practice -- a version of it I never imagined I would try.

Here goes:

Some years ago, I was living in a commune on a 600-acre cattle farm in Virginia. We were three couples, two cats, and one child in a five bedroom house. We called ourselves "Ananda Household" (at least that's what it said on our checkbook), ananda being a Hindi word for bliss -- our go to word of the moment because all of us were students of the same teacher who, among other things, was helping us awaken to the source of bliss within ourselves. Or like, whatever.

Towards that end, once a week, we would have "satsang" in our living room -- "satsang" translating as "company of the truth" which, simply put, was a gathering of inward looking people to share, spontaneously, the timeless, non-denominational wisdom of the soul.

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The six of us, inspired as we were, would do our best to advertise these gatherings to our local community, but because our home was 12 miles in the boonies there were many evenings when no one, other than the six of us, would be sitting in that living room.

And while these gatherings were always inspiring, I began to feel like something was missing -- that something being people other than us to share this good news with -- even if my high school English teacher told me never to end a sentence with a preposition.

Not more than a few days after this somber feeling began to arise in me, we got word that one of Prem Rawat's Mahatamas from India needed a place to stay for a week and we were the chosen ones.

Wow! Whoa! Whew! We were psyched -- a chance to host a holy man, someone much further along the path than any of us. Cool!

And so we prepared with great rigor -- spotlessly cleaning our guest room, picking fresh flowers, and buying a whole bunch of Indian spices.

On the day of Mahatmaji's arrival, even though he was tired from his travels, he joined us for dinner and shared some stories from the Mahabharata before turning in for the night.

The next night was satsang and we were thrilled to have, in our midst, a genuine devotee -- someone way more tuned in than any of us -- the real McCoy who, we knew in our bones, would be way more inspiring to a roomful of people than any of us local yokels.

The room was set. The flowers were on the alter. The incense was lit -- me positioned at the front door to escort what I imagined would be about 20 people, arriving a few at a time, into the living room.

No one showed up. No one. Not a single soul. As usual, it was just us -- the six householders (one child asleep) and, tonight, Mahatma-ji, smiling from ear to ear. And while the evening, as I recall, was enjoyable, I couldn't help but feel we had missed an opportunity to fill the room with people likely to have an experience of a lifetime.

Did I mention that no one showed up?

The next morning, Mahatma-ji, sensing my state of mind, invited me to join him for a walk. And so I did. As we strolled the country road, I confessed to feeling disappointed at the lack of "turn out" at last night's gathering.

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"What do I do, Mahatma-ji, when no one shows up and I have so much, within me, to share?"

"Talk to the cows," he said, pointing to a field of Herefords to our left.

This was not the answer I was expecting. Talk to the cows? Really? Talk to cows? Giving satsang to animals seemed totally off-the-wall to me, maybe Mahatma-ji's misinterpretation of something he read in a scripture -- but we kept on walking, Mahatma-ji and me, the sound of mooing all around us.

A few days later it was Mahatma-ji's time to leave town and so he vamoosed just a few hours before satsang in our living room. Guess how many people showed up? None. As in zero. No one.

And so, the next morning, after breakfast, remembering Mahatmaji's advice to me, I went for a walk on the same road we had trekked just days before, cows to the right of me, cows to the left of me, cows everywhere I looked.

Clearing my throat, I sidled up to the fence and let it rip.

"Dear brothers and sisters," I began, "what a beautiful life this is! How fortunate we are to be alive at this precious time. And for what purpose? Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? To know ourselves. To experience the divine self. To feel gratitude for simply breath alone. To find the peace that passes all understanding."

And on and on and on I went.

The cows, it seemed, were enjoying what they heard. Herd! Their tails wagged. Their ears twitched. And some of them walked towards me. I realized course, it was possible that it was just the sound of my voice that animated them, or maybe the fact that anyone at all was standing at the fence -- maybe someone with a carrot or an apple.

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Indeed, it was possible, I guess, that I would have gotten the same response from reading the phone book or reciting Canterbury Tales in Middle English. But in that particular moment, none of these thoughts mattered. And why they didn't matter, was because I was experiencing something totally beautiful within me -- something way beyond cow or human psychology.

My heart was opening. My mind was still. And I could feel the beautiful choo choo train of love soaring through me, destination unknown -- not to mention a huge dose of ease, freedom, flow, goodness, gladness, grace, and gratitude.

I was, you might say, practicing -- getting into the zone of letting the spontaneous expression of my inner being come roaring through me -- uninhibited, unannounced, and uncensored. Practicing, yes! Not performing. Not trying. Not impressing. Just practicing -- whether or not a single cow twitched an ear, wagged a tail, or mooed -- most of them staring at me as if I didn't even exist.

PremRawat.com
MitchDitkoff.com
Photo #1: Lomig, Unsplash
Photo #2: RookieLuva, Unsplash
Photo #3: Alex Azabache, Unsplash
Photo #4: Jakob Cotton, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at May 26, 2020 09:23 AM

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ABOUT THE BLOG

Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

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Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
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