Goroba, a potter molded himself to become a widely-known Indian saint.
His disciples planned to visit temples and take a dip in holy rivers. They asked him, “Guru, can
you join us next week in our visit to the holy rivers? We will feel blessed.”
The saint thought for a while and said, “My calendar has a schedule conflict already. I will
delegate my attendance for this event.” He plucked a fresh bitter gourd from a climber on the
beautiful monastery wall. He handed over the bitter gourd to an elderly disciple with a
headgear, and offered, “I can’t come. You can consider this bitter gourd as my representative.
Take it with you, wherever you go. Wherever you take a dip to purify yourself, see that you also
immerse this bitter gourd in those holy rivers.“
The disciples were pleased. They took good care of the bitter gourd. Why? That bitter gourd
represented their Guru. They dipped the bitter gourd first and then had a dip in every river
considered sacred. They returned to the monastery after several weeks. “The pilgrimage
experience was awesome. As per your standing order, we dipped this Bitter Gourd in all the
holy rivers. We’ve missed your sweet sermon. Shall we have it now please?, begged a disciple.
Saint Goroba was pleased. He declared, “Well, I’m so happy that you followed my instructions
religiously during your trip. Instead of a theoretical sermon, why not have a Practical session
today? The world is a laboratory and every experience is an experiment,” and added, “Chop
that bitter gourd and taste it. Be ready for a miracle! It’ll taste sweet.” The disciples chewed the
bitter gourd with lot of excitement.
They were in for a surprise! The bitter gourd was bitter! It was a bitter experience for the
“Now your practical sessions are over,” announced the Guru. The disciples were dumbstruck.
The sermon was cancelled and the practical session also didn’t work the way the Guru wanted.
The ‘Realized Guru’ could realize their thoughts. He communicated the outcome of the
experiment, “The bitter gourd’s surface coming into contact with the holy water didn’t change
its nature. You coming into contact with the river that you consider holy doesn’t change you,
unless we change what’s inside you.“ These words resonated in their minds triggered a
realization to change.
Their Guru could’ve pulled out a miracle that day. Had he done that, the only learning for the
disciples would have been, a feeling that my Guru can do wonderful things that no one else can.
The disciples would not stand to gain.
The Guru did not wish to see his disciples remain where they are and remain devoted to him.
The easiest way to upgrade the people who believed in him but not in themselves, was to make
things simple for them, help them experience and realize that they can attain what he could.
Simplicity in approach powered by a strong desire, transformed the lives of his team.
Chapter 4.5 – Differentiate without Distancing