The Potter and the Clay

This is one of the stories in our Story-Gems project, a collection of our experiences with our Guru, Sri Chinmoy. Project homepage »


I was blessed to have quite a bit of private time with Guru on various occasions. One time I approached him having allowed myself to be immersed by a sense of failure. I told him that I was feeling failure all around me.

He said, “It is not like that. You have to think of yourself as the lump of clay that the potter has. When the potter is working on the lump of clay, you cannot say that it is very beautiful. But he is working on it and it becomes something beautiful.”

Another example Guru used was the farmer who works in the field. He spreads fertilizer, and you cannot say that that is very beautiful. But eventually the farmer grows a bumper crop of food. So it was not that I was a failure, Guru explained to me―it was simply that I was not finished yet. I was witnessing myself in the process of being perfected.

Then Guru added, “If all else fails you and none of that works, just remember that you belong to me. You belong to me.”

He also occasionally gave me light-hearted advice. In the later years of Guru’s life, people would be regularly invited to his home, but this required an invitation. However, Guru had said to me, “Whenever you come to New York, you come to my house at 8:30. You don’t need to be invited.” This was really quite lovely.

One time I came to New York and went to Guru’s house as he had directed, and no one else was in the room we were in at the time. He said, “Oh, Pradhan, you are here! Come and work on my leg.” As a chiropractor, I used to work on Guru’s leg, doing chiropractic manipulation and also massaging it. On this particular occasion I happened to be exhausted.

“Guru,” I said, “Please forgive me. I know that I am not working on you with the same intensity that I usually do, but I am really exhausted and I just need a good night’s sleep. I will be fine tomorrow.”

Guru called out to the disciples in other parts of the house, saying, “Everybody, please come down. Please don’t ask Pradhan to do anything. He is working harder than anyone else in the Centre, so don’t ask him. Please, everyone, come down.”

I laughed, saying, “Guru, please stop!”  There is a certain amount of self-indulgence in thinking that one is so tired and working so hard. Guru called me out on this lovingly and amusingly, and of course my tiredness immediately disappeared.

Patience Is Light
To please the Supreme
In His own Way
Is not possible overnight.
If you are sincerely and consciously trying,
What you need is patience.
Patience is light,
Patience is strength,
Patience is peace.

Sri Chinmoy 1